Who is the NBA equivalent to Brett Favre? I’m gonna go with Allen Iverson. Consider…
A.I. and Favre have the eternal respect of anyone who’s ever played with them, played against them, covered them closely in the media, or simply watched them on TV more than once.
Favre and A.I. are warriors who play with their emotions on their sleeve and have battled through injuries countless times, still performing at an all-world level.
A.I. and Favre have come to define tradition-rich franchises in sports-crazy cities, enduring the worst and enjoying the best of times with those teams.
Favre and A.I. are, as good as they are, probably given more credit than they deserve as winners. (That’s not a knock at all, but think of how highly people speak of A.I. and Favre’s competitiveness, then count how many championships they have.)
A.I. and Favre are considered among the greatest of all-time at their respective positions in their respective sports, yet neither of them makes a great case for being called THE best of all-time.
Favre and A.I. never seem to age.
A.I. and Favre are undeniably human, which is part of their appeal to some of their most loyal fans. Each man has his flaws, and their troubles have been broadcast to the public, and each man has overcome them to succeed.
Now given all of that, if Allen Iverson had announced his retirement this summer, then changed his mind and set off a messy situation where the Nuggets — actually, let’s make it the Sixers — didn’t really want him back but couldn’t stand the bad PR of just saying they didn’t want him back, would it be getting half as much coverage as the Favre story? A third of the coverage? A fifth?
Would we be subject to hours of airtime devoted to A.I. every day, even on days when nothing substantial happens? Would we get field reporters breathlessly spitting “breaking news” that A.I. may or may not have sent someone a text message? Would we have a constant “A.I. Watch” that starts to resemble the coverage of a high-speed chase? Would we see every ex-NBA player who’s ever thought of working as a TV analyst brought out to opine on the A.I. story? And for those few weeks in between the time A.I. announced his retirement and when he changed his mind, would we get tons of hopeful “He’s not REALLY retired” rhetoric?
Of course not. So the question is: Why? What’s so different between Brett Favre and Allen Iverson that would create such a contrast in the way the media covers them?