As an unabashed Allen Iverson fan, this news truly hurts my heart. It’s long been rumored that A.I.’s finances are a total mess (and/or non-existant), but when word came out last week that a judge ordered that Iverson’s bank account can be commandeered to pay off a $860,000 jewelry tab, what we all suspected became sickeningly real.
It’s now being rumored that his financial distress goes way beyond that jewelry account. Way, way, way beyond. As in all of his money, an estimated $154 million in earnings, being pretty much gone.
So how did it get to this point? The answers are plentiful, but to topline a few, let’s go with many, many years of recklessness unchecked, poor management, hard-headedness, and blind, utter loyalty and devotion to those seen as family. Loyalty is truly a virtue, but there’s a limit to everything, especially when it has been a key component to the dismantling of your life and the live of your family. It’s obviously a sentiment that Allen Iverson would fight to the death.
In a Sunday article on Iverson’s situation, Bill Lyon, one of my favorite sportswriters ever, broke down his take on how we got to this point for the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Croce, calling him by his nickname, said: “Bubba Chuck is who he is, and he will not change.”
And he wouldn’t, even if he could.
Because he had the Posse to support, the ones whose loyalty was guaranteed.
Their numbers varied day to day, week to week, most of them from the old neighborhood in Virginia. There might be as many as 50 for tickets to a home game. There was a hair stylist who traveled, did his corn rows two to three times a week.
Moderation was not in vogue.
There were excursions to see the Ice Man, whose handiwork included a platinum pendant made in the shape of a ‘3’ as a tribute to A.I.’s jersey number, with 63 diamonds embedded on it. You could land airplanes on it. It was worn on a gold chain, by A.I.’s mother, Ann.
Told that she was “a real trip,” Ann Iverson said: “Honey, I’m the whole package.”
She was the buffer. Her word was law for the Posse. She could intuit trouble, of which there always seemed to be too much.
A.I. said: “They made me.” He meant they had protected him from all of the casual violence, especially in the early days, allowing him to get where he was. Literally, they kept him alive.
And he owed them.
One night, during the playoffs, in a hotel suite darker than a coal mine at midnight, you saw the depth of his debt: There were bodies everywhere in that suite, all the furniture occupied, the floor, too, the snoring rivaling a 747 takeoff. It was the Posse and assorted hangers-on and remoras, and this thought struck you:
It may take a village to raise a child, but in A.I.’s case it has been the other way around.
Heartbreaking, yes, but sadly, not surprising. For the record, I have reached out to Iverson’s camp multiple times to get an official comment on his situation over the last several weeks (including this morning), and after some back and forth, I finally got this text from Allen’s long-time manager, Gary Moore (who up until VERY recently appeared to still be acting in that capacity): “I have no idea what u r talking about Pat. I’m not involved in Allen’s or anyone else’s finances.”
So there you have it.
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