I remember watching Allen Iverson at Georgetown and wondering why the hell John Thompson let him do whatever he wanted on the basketball court. He took horrible shots, he turned the ball over, and he played very undisciplined. After watch ESPN's 30 for 30 series The Trial of Alen Iverson it all made sense. As a young man Allen Iverson was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his alleged role in a fight at a bowling alley. Had it not been for the support of his community and divine intervention (a pardon from a sympathetic governor on his way out of office) there would be no basketball career to speak of. What John Thompson did was give him the freedom to find himself again. The 15 months her served behind bars stifled his growth and destroyed his confidence. He got that back at Georgetown and became the #1 pick in the NBA draft. After all he's been through it's easy to see why he doesn't trust people and why he's always true to himself. Nothing was given to him and everything was taken away in the blink of an eye. He lives everyday like it's his last and plays every game like it's his last. Over the year Allen Iverson has been labeled a problem child, a selfish player, and a coaches nightmare yet he's been voted to 11 allstar teams and one as recent as this season when he played virtually no games. Why do we love this little guy so much? Here's the 3 reasons we root for Allen Iverson:
1. Individual performances. Allen Iverson will take on ANYBODY! ABSOLUTELY ANYBODY! His heart is 2 times bigger than everyone else. We saw this in the 2001 NBA finals where he went for 47 and beat the unbeatable Lakers. And of course who could forget when he crossed over King Jordan then dropped the J on him. That was a career defining moment. It was almost as if he was saying, " Sorry Mike, even you can't hold me."
2. We see the potential. The reason his community fought so hard on his behalf is they knew what he could become. At his best Allen Iverson is the MVP of the league telling kids to stay out of trouble and winning scoring titles. At his worst he won't go to practice and doesn't talk to his coach. We cross our fingers hoping for The Answer and not the problem.
3. Memories last long. When you watch a player you admire you never want their career to end. With Allen you remember all the crossovers, all the battles, and all the excitement that comes with rooting for the underdog. He's simply done things he shouldn't have been able to do.
Allen Iverson is the uninvited guest that becomes the life of the party. Too bad it's 5:30 in the morning and probably time for Allen to go home. It was a great bash though.