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Monday, October 25, 2010

The Turkish Answer

When money talks, alcoholism flies thousands of miles to play basketball.
Allen Iverson has agreed in principle to a 2-year, $4 million deal with Besiktas, a Turkish pro team, according to Yahoo! Sports. Iverson is expected to sign the deal this week, and fly out to Turkey to report for duty.

The 35-year old Iverson was unable to field any worthwhile NBA suitors, after a very tumultuous 2009-10 NBA season, in which he played three games for the Memphis Grizzlies, retired, came out of retirement, returned to play for the Philadelphia 76ers, took a leave of absence in March, and later had Stephen A. Smith report that his alcoholism was spiraling his life out of control.

And he's also getting divorced.

The former league MVP and 17th leading scorer of all-time will travel to the United States and meet with Besiktas executive board member Seref Yalcin to discuss the details of the deal, which include arrangements that can be made for his children to go to school in Turkey.

For anyone who has followed the career of Iverson, this news is pretty depressing. To many, he was less a basketball talent, and more of a cultural icon. At barely 6 feet tall, Iverson drove to the hole amongst the giants, played with relentless passion, and brought the hood with him every step along the way. Iverson brought the tattoos and the long hair to the league, and largely because of his platform, spilled it over into the society at large. Wasn't a good thing, or a bad thing, just a "thing" thing. He was the "Tipping Point" of the hood becoming mainstream in the NBA. He was the reason David Stern and league owners enacted a dress code.

He is also the reason players like Monte Ellis, Jason Terry, Eric Gordon, and other under sized two guards aren't forced into playing the point. Iverson was a shooting guard, no "ifs", "ands", or "buts" about it. When he got the ball, it was pretty much a 90 percent chance that it was going up, and not around.

He was also the most open, honest, and quotable player of his era. As always was the case with Iverson, that unique quality of his had its own good and bad sides. We all remember his "Practice" tirade, but there was also this jewel (pun intended) about the fans relationship with the players: "Its unfair because, the people booing, I believe, wouldn't want to have their child booed. Fans don't understand our lives and what we go through. They don't look at us as humans. We love the fans because they support and love the game, but at the same time it hurts when they turn their back on us."

And really, at this point, the fans, the ones that repped A.I. over the course of his 15 year odyssey through the NBA, is all he has left. If you loved him for his persona, or just appreciated the way he maximized every ounce of physical potential out of his 6'0", 170 lb frame, with freakishly long arms (for real, I think he is half orangutan), this last phase of his career has to be a downer, at least a little bit.

Good luck in Turkey, "Bubba Chuck".

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