I'm not usually one to kick a player when they're down. In all honesty, I have, over the last few seasons, become a somewhat fan of Allen Iverson. The same Iverson who I disliked more than any other professional athlete for a good ten years or so.
But now comes reports of Iverson having gambling and alcohol issues , after taking a leave of absence from his team, the Philadelphia 76ers, to aid his ailing four-year-old daughter.
I support Iverson 100% in taking time away from basketball and handling family issues, especially when it relates to his children.
But don't say you're going to leave your team to handle family issues, then have reports surface of alcohol and gambling addiction while your team is battling for a playoff spot. That leaves me absolutely zero compassion for him. Derek Fisher was caught up in a similar family situation in 2007. While playing with the Utah Jazz, Fisher was notified that his daughter had a rare condition called retinoblastoma , a type of cancer of the retina which can be lethal if not caught early enough. He asked his head coach Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz to be with his daughter during her surgery and chemotherapy in New York, as Salt Lake City did not have the needed facilities.
Fisher missed the first three quarters of a playoff game against his former team, the Golden State Warriors, while he was with his daughter in New York undergoing treatment. Fisher arrived to Game 2 of a playoff series halfway through the third quarter, and was greeted with a standing ovation. Later in the game Fisher made a key defensive stop, helping send the game into overtime, and in overtime his crucial three-pointer, sealing the game for the Jazz.
Fisher is a champion both on and off the court. Regardless of if he had Shaq and Kobe, four rings is still four rings. The guy had family issues, and he gets excused from work to handle them. Not only does he handle them, but he returns mid-game and plays a major role in winning a playoff game.
In case you forgot, Iverson has zero rings, and has worn out his welcome on his previous three teams. What he does have that Fisher does not is a handful of scoring titles. Whoop-de-freaking-do. When you shoot the ball 30 times per game (and only shoot a mere 42% from the field) a scoring title doesn't mean jack. Champions are not made out of scoring titles, and Iverson has yet to grasp that concept. Iverson has always been a me-first player, and while no one will ever question his toughness and heart for the game, that doesn't change his selfish mentality.
During the 2009 offseason when no one wanted him, the Memphis Grizzlies signed him to a contract, giving him an opportunity to continue playing professional basketball. That was not good enough for Iverson. He whined and complained that he was too good to come off the bench, and left Memphis for "personal reasons" (sound familiar?) and ten days later Memphis and Iverson mutually agreed to terminate the remainder of the contract.
Iverson then announced his retirement, even though anyone with any basketball intelligence knew he was retiring simply because no one wanted his services and he didn't want that hanging over his head. Sure enough, the Philadelphia 76ers eventually signed Iverson to come back to Philly in early December. Low and behold, just two months later, Iverson leaves the team for more personal reasons, to tend to his ill daughter.
We all know how consumption of alcohol and gambling will cure ailing children.
I'm not trying to say that Iverson is not helping his daughter—he very well may be. But you don't request to leave your team (that gave you yet another opportunity to continue playing basketball when NOBODY else wanted you) only to be caught up in alcohol and gambling. If you want to take time off to help your daughter, by all means do so. But the alcohol and gambling reports make this seem like he could still be on the court helping his team AND helping his daughter. Something that a four-time champion like Fisher seemed to understand how to do.
Just another reason why Iverson has never been a champion.