COMMENTARY | How does somebody with "The Answer" as his nickname raise so many questions?
Allen Iverson came into the NBA under scrutiny. He was an undeniably talented basketball player who had all the tools to thrive as a professional. So many tools, in fact, that he was selected with the No. 1 pick by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Iverson was a no-brainer from a basketball perspective. The same couldn't be said about his character, though.
His troubles began in his hometown of Hampton, Virginia. He went from an untouchable high-school athlete to being sentenced to 15 years in prison following a bowling-alley brawl. Public outcry led to Iverson being released after four months, and a lack of evidence eventually forced the case to be dropped.
Iverson had been freed, but the damage was already done.
The brawl might have taken place before he was even an 18-year-old, but a similar story seemed to play out during his days with the Sixers.
Iverson was (unfairly) depicted in a negative light because of his image. David Stern and the NBA didn't care for the cornrows, baggy clothes and loose chains. He couldn't score enough points to change people's thoughts about his tattoos and bad-boy look.
The most unfortunate part of it all is how Iverson failed to help himself.
The exceptional point guard continued to perpetuate the public's concern by getting into trouble off the court. His rant about "practice" during a press conference is still being talked about. Following that, he ended up facing felony charges after carrying a gun and threatening two men while looking for his wife.
It didn't matter what was taking place on the court, Iverson could never escape his past.
In some ways, Philadelphia was the perfect place for him. The city appreciates hard work, sweat and pain. Try and come up with somebody who has put on a Sixers uniform and put in more hard work than Iverson. Somebody who has left more sweat on the floor. Somebody who has battled through more pain.
You won't find anyone.
Not everybody liked what he did with the ball or the kind of person he was away from the hardwood, but he played every game like it was his last, and it was impossible not to respect that.
Iverson's exit from the game of basketball couldn't have been much rougher. His athletic gifts that once lifted him above the rest of the league slowly began to fade. The confidence he once used to give him an edge on the competition became an ego that no NBA franchise wanted to touch.
Scrutiny had finally pushed him out of the league.
Iverson was never a closed book. You could always see what he was feeling, even if he didn't have to say anything to explain it. Unfortunately, seeing what he was going through was never enough to stop people from questioning his character.
Understanding the man behind those emotions will always be the biggest question.
But then again, how well have we ever really known "The Answer?"
Zachary Arthur has been a Featured Columnist for the Philadelphia 76ers on Bleacher Report for the past nine months. His passion for the Sixers began while visiting family in Philadelphia at a young age, and has been there ever since.
- Sports & Recreation
- Allen Iverson