(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Continued Fall of Allen Iverson


Against the backdrop of a 76ers' team with a passionate, refreshing and straightforward coach and players who dive for loose balls, defend, set screens and pass (to the point that the other night 7 players scored in double figures), comes this story from veteran, venerated columnist Bill Lyon. It's perhaps one of many we'll continue to see, about the (spectacular) free fall of one-time NBA MVP Allen Iverson.

What's particularly sad about this story is that mostly everyone who followed the 76ers saw it coming and yet remained powerless to protect Iverson from himself. He played like a house afire and lived his life the same way -- exciting, determined, stubborn, kinetic, frenetic, unique. But we all knew that the energy couldn't last, the money would run out, and the style of basketball would be exposed for what it was -- a one-man band, with a supporting cast whom the star failed to help make better, especially when the star took too many shots to score the points that he did.

The will not to believe, of course, was strong. The will not to believe that the type of basketball was borne of guts and energy but not discipline (both on the court and off) could last or was good, especially because of all people Larry Brown gave public testimony for it. The will not to believe that poor off-the-court habits could outdo and outlast the stronger work ethic of players like Kobe Bryant, who made up for their lack of bling and pizzazz with their sniper's accuracy. The will not to believe that AI would end up where he is now.

Which is unwanted and broke, a basketball junkie and lifer without a team, without crowds chanting his name, designating him as the most valuable player. It wasn't so long ago that he could run by opponents, leave announcers agape and fans wanting more.

And most of us saw it coming.

Even if, for a while, few wanted to believe it.


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