Stephen A. Smith, star of the smash hit “Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith,” reports today that Allen Iverson has major issues of the non-basketball variety. Smith’s column from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer claims that Iverson has major drinking and gambling issues that have derailed his career and threaten to ruin his life. Honestly, a lack of understanding of the “team concept” has derailed Iverson’s career more than drinking or gambling ever could, but the report is troubling nonetheless.
Smith claims that there is wide-spread worry among NBA sources that Iverson “will either drink himself into oblivion or gamble his life away.”
Iverson’s wife Tawana filed for divorce March 4, which was also the date it was announced that the four-time NBA scoring champion would not play again this season. In the filing, his wife claimed the eight-year marriage was “irretrievably broken” and she is suing for full custody of the couple’s five children. Iverson also left the Philadelphia 76ers several weeks ago to deal with his four-year-old daughter Messiah’s illness.
According to Smith, Iverson’s gambling problem is serious enough that he has been “banished” from Casinos in Detroit and Atlantic City.
Smith quotes former Temple head coach John Chaney as recommending that John Thompson (Iverson’s former coach at Georgetown) should intervene on his former player’s behalf.
Whatever happens, Iverson needs some guidance in his life. It seems like he’s been around forever, but he’s only 34-years-old. While his best on-court days are surely behind him, he has a lot to live for. He’s an 11-time All-Star, a former NBA MVP (2001), he has been First Team All-NBA three times and Second Team three times and is currently 22nd on the NBA’s career scoring list. He’s likely to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and has five children to devote his post-playing career to.
If Smith’s reports are true – and with how closely he’s followed Iverson’s career there’s no reason to believe he’s wrong – someone has to reach out of Iverson and help him through this tough time. I’ve never been a fan of A.I. but this is terribly sad and no one should have to suffer through this sort of downward spiral alone.
Here’s hoping Iverson gets himself right.