Thursday, April 21, 2011

Allen Iverson

I’m a Knicks fan. I started watching the NBA just as Pride of Coney Island - Stephon Marbury came home to New York. To me, that period of time in the NBA was great. We’d sit all morning talking about them. There was a Garnett fan, a Tim Duncan fan and a Kobe Bryant fan. We were casual players, winning the odd 3 on 3 during recess time. I’d be playing football most of the time. We knew most guys on the school team. A hot tempered small forward who’s been in the team since freshman, a Larry Bird like big man who loves to shoot 3, and his best friend who is taller than most people but was so quick that he plays point guard – Magic Johnson esque. There was also an ex classmate who is probably the quickest, Marbury-esque, average shooter but gets inside so well. Then there was the obvious hate – a Mommy’s boy 1st class student who gets into the team every time because his dad was the head coach. Looking back, my most satisfying moment was probably putting Steve Nash as my point guard when he was still at Dallas when everyone else chooses Jason Kidd.

Allen Iverson? There’s a guy who loved AI. Plays like him. But he was average. AI means something. To a lot of people back then. AI was like John Lennon – something good that adores people and people adore – True basketball fan at that time would just love him. While its obvious that his athletic talent are great, it’s the hype that he brings to a game, how he makes average players contribute, his hustles, his white arm band, that wins the heart of people.

These days they don’t allow them to wear what they like. But Allen Iverson was different. The youth and later the mature, shows that AI is who he is. The truth about basketball is that it’s a game, players who play a game should try their best to win it. Sometimes people overlooked this fundamentally important thing. AI is who he is – he wants to win. Transform him into a fatter, whiter and richer 50 years old, you would have seen George Steinbrenner. AI represents the will to win, the want to win that most of us are too coward to express because the price would have been uncomfortable. AI’s life was in ruins ever since he was born. While its unfortunate, it gave Allen the nothing to lose mentality, the mentality that the only way is up, that seeing him doing things makes people believe in themselves. And it was this believe, that at the stage of growing up, when I start to understand I’ll never be in the A class, that life has to have a new direction, this very believe in ourselves kept us going.

LeBron, Kobe, Mike, DRose, Pierce, Reggie, Melo, Ewing or any other athletes of any sports, will have their struggle story of themselves, maybe even tougher. But AI was a beacon. AI was our age. That being different, expressing yourselves, wasn’t wrong. It was like an uprising of poor people. And its this that turns the neutrals into Iverson fans. I am one of those neutral and I believe Iverson sells more jersey than any other player, including Mike. .

People often measured teams and players with success. You’d find the biggest fan base teams most probably have the most championship wins. But there was always an exception, somewhere. Yogi Berra had 10 rings but he won’t be the first player that people talk about when it comes to the Yankees. AI never won an NBA title. But AI gave basketball a different identity, gave people who saw him a belief, gave people an idol that was different to look up to, gave people the chance to witness the depressed (non mainstream) overcoming the oppressed.

For all those moments in all those years, Allen Iverson, The Answer, AI 3, thank you.

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