Farewell, A.I.

So last Friday Sports Illustrated’s website ran my latest column, a piece about Allen Iverson and his staggering lack of readiness for the real world.

Today, the Memphis Grizzlies dumped The Answer.

In the immediate aftermath of the column, I received some extremely heated letters. Who the f*** was I? What right did I have to slam Iverson? A.I. is The Man, and I’m some loser journalist who picks his nose, then eats the remnants.

Truth be told, however, I’ve always loved Allen Iverson. I love his grittiness. I love his heart. I love the way he drives through the lane and gets pounded time after time after time. I especially love the way he absolutely humiliated Michael Jordan with one of the deadliest cross-overs of all time (See Above Video). Yes, he never won a title, and his stays in Denver and Detroit and Memphis were pretty disastrous. But vintage Iverson—Philly Iverson—was as good as a little guard got. He was magnificent.

One more thing: Let’s not forget Iverson’s important place in hip-hop culture. What professional athlete was wearing cornrows before A.I.? He brought a sort of street-cred edginess to the game, one that enticed young fans while making David Stern and Co. squirm.

So instead of mocking Iverson, or wondering what all those people in Memphis was No. 3 jerseys are thinking right now, let’s take a moment to appreciate a wonderful player whose place in the Hall of Fame is certainly secure.

I meant everything I said in my column.

But I sure hope I’m wrong.

PS: For those who never read it, here’s a recap of my week with A.I.

15 thoughts on “Farewell, A.I.”

  1. I didn’t realize this until now, but my fading interest in the NBA coincided perfectly with the diminished skills of Iverson.

    Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it’s very probable that Iverson was the last, best player I avidly followed in the NBA.

    A great, great player.

  2. You wrote in your column how terrible it is for an ex athlete to have to constantly retell the same old stories and how you’d never wish that upon anyone. You also said you are complimented on what you once were, which is a reminder of what you’ll never be again. This is all well and true, but I don’t think someone in your profession should really feel bad for him at all. You spend your entire professional life writing about the feats and accomplishments of other people. Your entire existence is spent chronicling the careers of others. This is something that takes no real talent and provides no real source of entertainment value either. You’re merely providing a subjective opinion on something of no real significance. Myself personally, I feel bad for you. When that day comes where you have finally written that last column and you look back on everything you’ve ever wrote, what fulfillment could you possibly get from that. To me the life of a sportswriter has to be equally as painful. Sure the athlete has to retell the old memories, but to me that’s a hell of a lot better than never creating a memory in the first place.

  3. John, I just finished a biography of Harry Truman by David McCullough. It’s 1100 pages. It’s got 5/5 stars on Amazon, rated by 320 people. I truly enjoyed it.

    But your comment that chronicling the careers of others takes no talent and provides no entertainment value changed my perspective.

    I guess I didn’t enjoy the book. And obviously someone made a terrible mistake in awarding two Pulitzer Prizes and a Presidential Medal of Freedom to a meaningless, no-talent bastard like David McCullough.

  4. You’re not reading about the writer, you’re reading about the subject. Also, a part of my point was that he covers sports, something of little consequence, that is purely subjective. The president of the United States is a completely different subject matter you imbecile.

  5. I also don’t care how long the book was, I’m not impressed. What an apt comparison that was. A guy who spends all of his time writing about lab creations like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, to an actual writer who devoted his life to chronicling the lives of people who have actually made an impact on this country. Yes, what a marvelous comparison indeed.

  6. John:

    I would personally like to thank you for clearing this up, and for potentially providing all of us with a much-needed service. Please do us all a favor and offer a list of those American figures—politics, sports, military, music, etc—who are worthy of being written about.

    Thanks.

    Jeff

    PS: Am genuinely curious: What do YOU do for a living?

  7. I don’t write for a major publication so it isn’t relevant. You write for Sports Illustrated and you offer your opinion which is open to both praise and criticism. You just wrote a very bizarre column about Allen Iverson. I didn’t like the article and I’m obviously not the only one. In my first post I explained what really bothered me about it. I have nothing against you as a person, I just happen to think what you do is equivalent to a film critic. Not exactly the most significant profession.

    1. I ask, once again, what you do for a living.

      I love how, suddenly, your tone is subdued and you’ve decided you can denounce one’s worth while deeming your own status as “isn’t relevant.” How pathetic, and how cowardly. Hell, all we know you as is “John,” which is even more sorry—a typical coward not even decent enough to use his full name below (or atop) his words. You wanna bring the criticism? You wanna call out someone? Fine—100% your right. But at least back it with … something. Anything.

      Summation: We don’t know who you are or what you do. You’re not even strong enough to give us that information. This doesn’t make you a bad guy, but it makes you a woefully typical genre of blog poster.

  8. Fine? It doesn’t sound fine. Why should I show you any respect at all? You show no respect for anyone in your articles. You showed absolutely no damn respect to Allen Iverson in your latest “article”. In it, you just as well assumed he already pissed it all away. How would you know something like that? Curious isn’t it? Your entire article about Iverson is B.S. Your job is to write about Iverson and his abilities pertaining to basketball, but you in all of your self righteousness, feel the need for some reason to examine his life after basketball and how he isn’t prepared. This would be a good topic if it was any of your damn business! You’re a sports writer, it’s your job to write about sports! For some reason that’s not enough for “writers” like yourself. Maybe I was too critical about your profession in my previous posts. There are some sportswriters who do an adequate job. You’re not one of them. You use your platform as a national sportswriter to explain to everyone how Allen Iverson isn’t living his life the right way. You’re in no position to make that proclamation. You talked to some ex nfl player who had a cup of coffee in the NFl, and had him comment on Allen Iverson’s personal life. He says the worst off person in the world is the poor S.O.B. who tasted the good life and can no longer afford it. What the hell does that mean? What does Buddy Roscoe know about Allen Iverson and how does that comment at all pertain to Iverson. “Taste of the good life and can no longer afford it”? That sounds like he’s talking about himself and not Iverson. What evidence do you have that supports the idea of him not being able to afford his lifestyle anymore. He made 150 million dollars in his career. You’re making a generalization. That makes you cowardly and a jackass. You’re an amateur who passes himself off as a professional. To me you’re no different than Lupica, Mariotti, or any of the other so-called sportswriters. You’re a caricature.

      1. Although it’s a tiny bit suspicious that you used two words to spell a profession that only calls for one. It’s not “fire fighter,” it’s “firefighter.”

  9. You lost me at film critic.

    I am susceptible to the argument that sports, and therefore sports reporting, is relatively meaningless. I feel guilty about my interest sometimes, too.

    But, to me, John reveals a certain mentality I cannot stand when he speaks of the meaninglessness of film critics. Because writing about art isn’t meaningless. Looking closely at things and reconsidering them in language that communicates ideas is not meaningless. And while, in the course of a film critic’s work, they have to cover a hell of a lot of shit that isn’t close to art, the good critics do this in a way that often elevates their own writing to something approaching its own art.

    I’m not sure sports is as important as art, but it must be pretty damn important is humans keep inventing it. And, like film, often the writing is more interesting than the actual event. We are chroniclers of our own existence. In this way, the cave paintings were a type of journalism. And since come consider hunting a sport, a type of sports journalism.

    (I used to want to be a Fire Fighter when I was a kid, by the way. Then I wanted to be an Astro Naut.)

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