In this wonderful age of social media, misleading story teasers, and quick links on Twitter and Facebook have brought more speculation and less reporting into journalism. (I blame you, TMZ.)
Right now, we know few things about Allen Iverson for certain.
We know that Iverson's four-year-old daughter Messiah is sick with an undisclosed illness.
We know that Iverson left the Philadelphia 76ers, for the rest of the season, to be with his daughter.
We know that Sixers coach Eddie Jordan said that there's no chance for Iverson to return to the team next season.
And we know that Iverson, on personal leave, attended a club last Saturday night and gave his detractors near-unlimited ammunition.
Here's what I know: Iverson made the right choice by leaving the Sixers for his daughter.
Any good parent should be willing to drop anything, at any time, to protect his children. Since Iverson can't cure his daughter's disease, he figured the next best thing was to be by her side as much as he possibly could.
Iverson Tweeted the following:
"I needed to be there to hold my little girl's hand and encourage her to get better. I wanted her to wake up every morning and see her Daddy's face, at least until she got better. Through God's Strength, She Will Keep Getting Better!"
Yeah. That sounds like a guy real worthy of the cheap shots and criticism that he's been receiving lately.
Here's what I'd say to the people dishing out the Iverson hate: What would you do in his situation? For their sake, I'd hope and pray that they chose Iverson's course of action.
Some writers have managed to keep an objective head about Iverson's situation. Henry Abbott of ESPN's TrueHoop wrote, "As a parent, I can't doubt for a moment that Iverson has far more important things on his mind than NBA basketball. Word is that until his daughter's health situation is resolved, he won't even think about what's to come of his NBA career. Fair enough."
Good man, Henry.
Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer, a typically respectable writer...well, he couldn't avoid the cheap-shot-at-Iverson trap.
Ford started off great:
"Let's pause right here and acknowledge that there is an apparently sick child involved in this story, and although neither Iverson nor the Sixers have been forthcoming about the nature or severity of the illness, that situation must be understandably difficult for Iverson."
But then...Bob fell into the "slam Iverson while he's down" trap.
"It might be less difficult if, as he said when he signed, he was committing himself fully to Philadelphia, and moved his family here. If that were the case, he could have keep doing his job."
I don't care if Iverson lived/moved his family right next to Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. In his current situation, a good father lays down his job for his family.
And to the fine people, like SportsByBrooks, raising a stink about Iverson's club appearance this past weekend: Do you realize that the club appearance in question was a launch event for his scholarship fund?
And do you realize that such events typically don't come together without months of preparation?
Here's the difference between continuing playing for the Sixers and attending this scholarship launch event: Basketball is a game. A scholarship fund creates futures for the next generation.
Had Iverson continued to play with his daughter in the condition that she's in, it could have been construed as a mental crutch to escape the harsh reality of his daughter's illness. (In fact, that column would have appeared in three different forms on Philly.com.)
A night launching a scholarship fund, even if it's Allen Iverson doing it, doesn't have to be anything more than that.
Just a man paying back some of his immeasurable wealth to people in need.
By the way...it's the age of TMZ, citizen journalism, and stealthy club cell phone pictures. So why haven't I seen a single picture of Iverson having a drink in the club that night?
You'd think some would have to exist if he partied it up as much as some people believe.
In the end, Iverson earned a limitless amount of my respect for his decade-plus of pouring his heart out on the court in Philly.
But he earned even more by stepping away from basketball and taking care of what really matters most: his family.