The backlash from Iverson report

Stephen A. Smith:

Once upon a time it was hard to decipher what was more difficult to
stomach: the foolish, detrimental behavior of a professional athlete or
the apologists disguised as their inner circle, eager to excuse the
inexcusable. And then there came Allen Iverson, who didn’t make it
difficult at all.

We can sit around and pretend that Iverson was victimized last week. That somehow he was outed and his personal business was thrown out into the street. But the truth is, from missed practices to excessive tardiness to a flagrant disdain for authority in any venue he’s frequented in the past decade, nothing new about Iverson’s habits was revealed in the last few days.

If only the same can be said about the rest of us.

Sadly, including myself.

It’s been a difficult week, folks! I’ll just put it out there. After revealing what’s been heard for years about Iverson’s drinking and penchant for the casinos, I’ve received the kind of beatdown only Joe Frazier can relate to from the pummeling he suffered against George Foreman decades ago.

I’ve been vilified and excoriated, called a turncoat and a sellout, unworthy of so much as a handshake from several members of Iverson’s former team, the 76ers – the last people in need of more adversaries.

The truth is, I deserve it. Despite the objectivity exercised while disseminating the news, it’s impossible to be completely impartial about someone you’ve known for 14 years and are incredibly fond of despite the innumerable mistakes he’s made.

The thing is, if I’m honest enough to express these feelings about Iverson, to stand up and say none of us who care should sit idly by and act as if the combination of Iverson’s history in the fast lane and his present family issues will be healed by silence, where are his so-called friends, the ones with the all-is-well expressions while knowing there’s mounting evidence to the contrary?

No one said Iverson is an alcoholic or a gambling addict. What was reported was that he’s drinking and gambling too much, enough to concern quite a few people in the NBA.

Saying what needed to be said is something I don’t regret. The truth hurts sometimes, particularly when it involves someone at a low point in their life. Electing to stand alone, however, while a bevy of individuals – former teammates, locker room personnel, team executives, hangers-on, and his business manager – stand around in silence was perhaps the most questionable decision of all.

Most of us have heard about the mistakes Iverson has made, but what about the teammates who witnessed them? What about Iverson being in casinos at 3 a.m. on game days? What about calls into this newspaper’s newsroom of Iverson being in Philadelphia while his daughter was ill – when Iverson’s closest confidant, Gary Moore, was reported saying Iverson was in Atlanta?

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