Allen Iverson: Drinking and Gambling His Career and Life Away

Brian TuohyCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2010

CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 20: Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers is slow to get up after being hit in the face during a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on February 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the 76ers 122-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Allen Iverson has had his fair share of on and off-the-court problems, but what was revealed today is perhaps the most shocking of all.

According to an article written by Stephen A. Smith in the Philadelphia Inquirer , Iverson is a shell of a man today.  His wife Tawanna, who is already separated from him while obtaining custody of their five children, has hired a high-price attorney in order to file for divorce.

What's worse, Iverson is reportedly consumed with both drinking and gambling, two addictions that are tearing his life apart.

Smith wrote: "If numerous NBA sources are telling the truth—and there's no reason to believe they'd do otherwise in a situation of this magnitude—Iverson will either drink himself into oblivion or gamble his life away."

Smith continued to write that Iverson has a "well-known penchant for alcohol" and has been "banished" from both Detroit and Atlantic City casinos.

His fear is that Iverson's downward spiral has no safety net at the bottom.  As he points out, despite earning in excess of $200 million in his career, after taxes, manager/agent fees, and the expected divorce settlement coupled with child support, Iverson may be destitute.  Smith also believes that Iverson has in no way, shape, or form planned for his post-NBA days.

Despite Iverson's personal issues—which seem horrific—the question fans are left to wonder is where has the NBA been during this period of time?

Iverson has been a major star for the league and at one time was one of their spotlight players.  In the post-Jordan era, he was to be one of the stars that kept the NBA vitalized.

Yet if Smith is to be believed, Iverson has had major personal issues in the form of drinking and gambling, both of which could have affected his play on the court for years.

While the NBA seems to crack down on drugs (though their drug testing program has several major loopholes players can exploit), it does nothing publicly against players drinking.  No NBA player has faced suspension due to a DUI arrest, and no active player has publicly gone through a rehabilitation program for alcoholism.

History has proven that top notch athletes can be both a menace on the playing surface and in the bar after the game.  So Iverson's drinking problem—no matter how long it has in fact been a problem—could have been with him throughout his playing days.  

Of course it is Iverson's responsibility to clean himself up, but if Stephen A. Smith knew Iverson had a drinking problem, so too did others within the NBA.  Why has no one apparently reached out to help?  Where has the league been all this time?

As for Iverson's gambling, the NBA has again completely dropped the ball.  After the Tim Donaghy fiasco, the NBA should be even more on guard for what its players, coaches, and referees are doing in casinos.  Yet it has been revealed that not only does Iverson have a gambling "problem," but he's even been banned from certain casinos (Smith does not write why Iverson was banished).

With all of his other issues, doesn't the idea of Iverson's gambling naturally lead to the notion that he could have been used to shave points or fix games? 

It is a bit of a leap to make.  However, when former mafia members, gamblers, and players who have fixed games all state that the easiest way to get an athlete to comply with such a plot is by blackmailing him to repay a gambling debt, then Iverson's gambling problem looms even larger.

Again, where has the NBA been?  They employ a virtual secret police force in the form of NBA Securities to monitor and watch for exactly this sort of behavior with at least one agent in every city in which the NBA has a franchise.  Did the NBA know about Iverson's gambling?  Do they know how deep his addiction may run?

One would like to believe the league is on top of the issues surrounding Iverson, but when one looks back at the Donaghy situation, it leaves major questions.  Donaghy supposedly caught the NBA completely off-guard.  Is Iverson going to do the same to the league?

And who, if anyone, is going to help him?

For more, visit:  www.thefixisin.net