When former NBA MVP Allen Iverson made an appearance to deliver the game ball last night prior to the Philadelphia 76ers' Game 6 victory over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, he received a hero's welcome. While the fans likely view AI as a retired player, though, Iverson himself doesn't feel that way.
Iverson has continually said that he wants to continue to play in the NBA despite the fact that he hasn't garnered any interest since unceremoniously departing the Sixers in 2010. Many believe that AI is only saying this because he needs the money, but nothing could be further from the truth.
According to Peter Vecsey of the New York Post, a source is reporting that Iverson has an account that contains $32 million. While he is prohibited from withdrawing from that account until he is 55, he is fed $1 million annually. That may pale in comparison to the $150 million he made over the course of his career, but he isn't a pauper by any means.
If you want to feel bad for Iverson because he can't continue his dream of playing in the NBA then that's one thing, but his financial situation is something none of us should be worried about. For Iverson's worth to have dwindled down to this point there is no doubt that he has spent wastefully, but it isn't difficult in the least to live well with $32 million in the bank.
Perhaps Iverson does want the modest salary he would receive playing in the NBA at the veteran's minimum, but that can't be his driving force. It's clear that AI loves the game and wants to play it for as long as he possibly can. He was often called a selfish player over the course of his career, but until his closing seasons with the Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies, nobody ever questioned his commitment.
With all of that said, no NBA team should have sympathy for Iverson either. If there is a team out there that honestly believes that he can be part of a winning culture, then they ought to sign him. Aside from that, though, there isn't much reason to bring him in. Teams shouldn't feel bad for him financially and it's clear that no team does since he hasn't been signed to this point.
After the way his career ended, I can't imagine that any general manager is eager to sign him. His tenures with the Pistons and Grizzlies ended ugly, and his return trip to Philly wasn't a success either. Iverson was at his best when he was getting a high volume of shots, but at his age his skills have eroded and he can't be anything other than a bench player.
A bench player with a me-first attitude is never good to have, however, so the chances of Iverson catching on anywhere are quite slim. Don't shed a tear for him if he never plays another game of basketball again because he was one of the best in the game for many years and he still has more than enough in the bank to get by with.
There is no question that Iverson being broke is a fallacy that was perpetuated by people who can't understand his love for the game. Whether or not Iverson plays in the NBA again, he'll always be considered one of the all-time greats. Fans should remember that rather than his tumultuous final season or the rumors that he blew through his considerable fortune.
Most athletes go through hardships at some point during their careers or thereafter, and that has been the case with Iverson. Rumors of his financial demise have been quite premature, though, so it's truly a non-issue at this point.
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