Friday, March 05, 2010

Here's hoping a sad end doesn't turn tragic

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA - Age guarantees a lot of things.

It's almost a give-and-take process. A lot of physical attributes like speed, strength and reaction time slow at the same time one's knowledge and wisdom are expanding.

It's almost a cruel joke, one that Allen Iverson is going through right now.

What "Father Time" doesn't guarantee is maturity, a learned rather than instinctual behavior that is never determined by one's age.

Iverson was an immature 17-year-old teenager in 1993 when he was convicted for his part in a Hampton, Virginia bowling alley brawl that left him incarcerated for four months. The case became a bit of a cause-celebre after he was convicted as an adult of the felony charge of maiming by mob, a rarely used Virginia statute that was originally designed to combat lynching.

After Iverson spent four months at a correctional facility in Newport News, Va., he was granted clemency by then Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder, and the Virginia Court of Appeals eventually overturned the conviction in 1995 for insufficient evidence. By most accounts, Iverson was railroaded, likely because of the color of his skin.

Allen Iverson was sent home last week by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Nearly 20 years later, Iverson might as well be that same teenager. People close to the mercurial guard have pointed to his ordeal in Virginia as the one that shaped adult years that have been dotted with the same signs of immaturity.

It didn't have to be like that. Unlike a lot of young African-Americans, Iverson got a second chance. In fact, calling his career a second chance is a bit of an understatement considering Iverson has been paid over $153 million dollars to play basketball over the last 15 years.

Evidently, you can't buy maturity.

In 1997, A.I. Was a 22-year-old when he was pinched on misdemeanor charges of marijuana and gun-possession, resulting in a plea bargain that carried three- years probation.

At 25, his immaturity resurfaced when he recorded a rap CD with lyrics that mocked homosexuals and embarrassed his employer.

In 2002, when Iverson was 27, he allegedly broke into a West Philadelphia apartment and threatened two men with a gun while looking for his estranged wife Tawanna, resulting in terroristic threats charges.

A year later a member of Cru-Thick, Iverson's posse, was shot in the leg in the Old City section of Philly and police believed Iverson may have also been targeted.

In 2005, Iverson was served with a civil lawsuit when two men claimed his bodyguard beat them in a Washington D.C. nightclub and one of the men was awarded over a quarter of a million dollars.

Last week, just months after reuniting with his old team, Iverson was sent home by the Philadelphia 76ers. The cover story this time was Iverson's 4-year-old daughter, Messiah, who is suffering from a still undisclosed illness,

In his last absence from the team before the release, Iverson was spotted at the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament in Charlotte, N.C., reportedly for a fund-raising commitment that included partying with hip-hop star Jermaine Dupri, far away from his daughter in Atlanta.

The latest blow to A.I. came on Tuesday when Tawanna Iverson filed for divorce in Fulton County, Ga. Superior Court.

The newspaper also reported that several NBA sources have confirmed Iverson has been troubled by excessive drinking and has a number of outstanding civil lawsuits filed against him.

For once I'm not worried about Iverson's legendary selfishness, his stunning lack of maturity and a reputation as a coach-killer.

His personal life is starting to resemble a runaway train, and I'm hoping a sad end on the basketball floor doesn't turn into a tragic one off it.

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