There was a time, in the NBA’s post-Michael Jordan era, when Allen Iverson was considered to be “The Answer” and he was paid accordingly. Iverson pulled in $154 million just on Philadelphia 76ers paychecks; outside deals sent that figure even higher.
Now, though, Iverson may well be broke.
On Monday, a Georgia judge ordered Iverson to pay a jeweler about $860,000 and, because Iverson apparently could not do so, the court is going after his bank account and garnishing his earnings. This is only the latest development in what has apparently been Iverson’s increasing insolvency over roughly the last two years.
Financial problems reportedly lay at the heart of his decision to sign a two-year, $4-million deal to play in Turkey in 2010 and reportedly are behind rumors that he’ll play abroad again, possibly in Puerto Rico. The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly showed some interest in signing Iverson, but wanted him to play in the NBA Developmental League first.
Bill Lyon, former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist, watched the Iverson years unfold in Philadelphia and wrote about Iverson’s days of excess that included enormous entourages. “Their numbers varied day to day, week to week, most of them from the old neighborhood in Virginia,” Lyon wrote. “There might be as many as 50 for tickets to a home game. There was a hair stylist who traveled, did his corn rows two to three times a week.”
Iverson had his reasons for remaining loyal to the crowd, telling Lyon “they made me.”
He meant they had protected him from all of the casual violence, especially in the early days, allowing him to get where he was. Literally, they kept him alive.
And he owed them.
One night, during the playoffs, in a hotel suite darker than a coal mine at midnight, you saw the depth of his debt: There were bodies everywhere in that suite, all the furniture occupied, the floor, too, the snoring rivaling a 747 takeoff. It was the Posse and assorted hangers-on and remoras and this thought struck you:
It may take a village to raise a child, but in A.I.'s case it has been the other way around.