Archive for Saturday, October 7, 2000

Iverson marches to own drummer

Apology notwithstanding, rapper/basketball player doesn’t care what anybody else thinks

October 7, 2000

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For the record, I'll state that I believe Allen Iverson did indeed author the apology issued Thursday about the controversial lyrics from his upcoming album.

I'll even say I believe he is sincere when he says he didn't mean to offend anyone by writing a song that encourages misogyny, gay bashing, violence, murder and other forms of miscellaneous mayhem.

Now what does all that mean?

Well, today, Iverson's apology means everything. But as far as tomorrow, who knows?

That's the way things work in the world of Allen Iverson. Iverson doesn't just march to a different drummer. He marches to his own percussion section.

By now everyone should have figured out that in his mind, this is his world, and we're all less than squirrels trying to find a proverbial acorn.

Allen Iverson is who he is.

If you understand him, fine. If you don't understand him, that can also be fine as long as you accept that and stop trying to figure out when or if this guy is going to change.

The Answer's answer to question has always been when or if it darn well pleases him to change. Save your breath. Save your energy. Save your prayers.

No amount of cursing, moaning, consoling, praying, begging or anything else is going to speed that process - if indeed there is a process to go on.

A.I. might have the basketball skills to become another Julius Erving or Michael Jordan, but those comparisons will have to end on the court.

Off the court, Iverson is never going to be mainstream. He's never going to be "safe." He's never going to be what most 76ers fans want him to be.

The comical thing is a lot of people think Iverson is stupid. They say that if he would just do X, Y and Z, he'd be acceptable, that Madison Avenue wouldn't be terrified of him. Iverson is far from stupid. Stupid people don't get to where he is after coming from where he's been. If it's a choice between Iverson being really dumb or really smart, I'll go with the latter.

Iverson darn well knows where he fits in and with whom he fits in.

I'm not a gangsta rap fan; never have been, never will be. I don't get it. I don't identify with it Non-buyers like me don't matter. Frankly, Iverson and his record label couldn't have paid enough for the type of free publicity his album has received over the last few days. Negative publicity from the mainstream is preferable in the world of over-the-edge music.

Here's what the situation boils down to: Allen Iverson isn't the white-bread, squeaky-clean, milk-drinking sports icon you want him to be. He told you from the beginning that he wasn't. What terrifies you is that so many of your children idolize him.

Be like Mike, sure. Be like A.I., call out the National Guard. Without doubt he should recognize that he is a role model to kids. But that doesn't mean it's his job to ease your responsibilities as parents.

If you don't like the image Iverson puts out there, you have to do a better job of making sure your kids don't buy into it.

He's 25 and going into his fifth year in the league. For those who keep saying he just needs to grow up, here's a secret: He IS grown up.

Allen Iverson is who he is. It's who he chooses to be. It's who he was yesterday. It's probably who he's going to be tomorrow. The day after that, who knows?

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