I was asked to pray for Allen Iverson. Actually, the “basketball world” was asked to pray for Allen Iverson. We were asked to pray for Allen Iverson. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Stephen A. Smith, that’s what Iverson’s close friend and business manager Gary Moore has asked us to do. Pray? I won’t.
Moore is asking for divine intervention in a career that was so blessed with opportunity and fortune. A life endowed with tremendous ability and natural talent. “Prayer,” if that’s what you want to call it, has been good to Allen Iverson. His shortcomings are on him, don’t ask us to pray.
Iverson was one of the best to ever grace the hardwood. He was fast, tough, and deadly from inside and out. He took a mediocre 76ers team to the finals on his back, and by himself, willed them to one gritty win over the Lakers.
Iverson, though, was always selfish. Later in his career, reflecting on his quarrels with Philadelphia head coach Larry Brown, Iverson said, “you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.” Constant tantrums, and the infamous “practice” press conference ultimately led to the end of Allen Iverson in Philadelphia and he was given new life in Denver. Iverson would play 136 games out of 246 for the Nuggets. He still could not find it in himself to share the ball or the spotlight, averaging nearly 20 shots a night, when healthy. When he was given yet another rebirth in a trade to Detroit, he promised to do whatever the coach asked. With a playful laugh and what appeared to be a new attitude, Iverson said he would come of the bench if it was necessary. He, again, couldn’t do it. He would later blame the coaching, and the Pistons front office for “lying” to him about his duties in a Piston uniform. No one bought it. Allen Iverson infected the Pistons organization like a malignant cancer. He would divide the locker room, and change Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince forever. He was given another opportunity in Memphis. That lasted less than 10 games, because apparently a paycheck to support Iverson’s Blackjack career wasn’t enough. Then, finally, Philadelphia gave him one last opportunity, one last hurrah, to revive himself. He failed. Out of money, out of sorts, and out of skill, Iverson may be done forever.
Iverson’s sense of entitlement is what led to his demise on the court. Off the court, a life of gambling and booze may lead to his ultimate demise. A man that was handed everything now finds his handlers asking people for their prayers. Well, find a new audience. This never ending saga has been exhausting for the NBA world, and now nauseating for NBA fans. I refuse to pray for someone who has taken everything, and given back nothing but childish and detrimental behavior. For the thousands of talented inner-city youths who would do anything to have the opportunities that Iverson has been handed over and over again, it is in their name that I will not pray for Allen Iverson.
No one is beyond redemption. Iverson’s redemption, however, must come from Allen Iverson. It must be a will to change perhaps in consultation with his own high power. That said, I am apathetic about the outcome.
“How the hell can I make my teammates better by practicing?” -Allen Iverson