So I’m watching TV in my hotel room in Tel Aviv at 3am. If jet lag is indigestion, staying up past 2am on your 1st night in a time zone 10 hours ahead of yours is like eating a chili dog to fix it. There was no need to exacerbate matters; I was sleepy so I thought I better lay my head on my pillow and just relax so as not to wreck the following day’s productivity. Then a European basketball game came on and I looked up and saw Allen Iverson playing for the Turkish team, Besiktas. What?!…So much for the next day’s things to do list. A.I. on TV in Israel? My hands were tied.
Allen Iverson has a reputation, earned or not, of being a ball hog and not a team player. Maybe age has made AI kinder and gentler but from my vantage point in room 1812 he was a total team player. Some might argue that his apparent team first attitude will either be short lived or is the product of his waning ability. Maybe he has no choice but to defer to teammates because the days of him dominating by himself have passed.
One could go on for days speculating but I think the best indicator of who he is and has become is that he’s in Turkey playing basketball! A former all star, 1st ballot NBA Hall of Famer and arguably the best under 6’2” person to ever play is willing to lace up his sneaks and play in a gymnasium the size our elite High Schools play in.
I don’t know if he needs the money but my guess would be that he simply needs to play. There’s no senior basketball tour like there is in golf. Although, I think watching greats in their 40’s play hoop has to be more entertaining than watching guys in their seventies walk around in plaid pants for 3 hours.
A.I. played hard every game. He often played entire games with no breaks. He often played hurt and he did this against people who were taller and weighed more than him. Sure, he was athletically blessed but he still left everything he had on the floor every night.
I usually side with the entertainer and despite our so called egos I have met and worked with many greats who have tasted fame, seen it run its course but still lace’em up every night and give the people what they want. Be it a stadium, cruise ship, makeshift stage in a Turks and Caicos resort or an old folks recreation room.
Only time can reveal certain things and I think time has shown that A.I. is the ultimate performer and competitor. His Turkish team won. He had 10 points. I spent the next day yawning and eye rubbing but it was all worth it. And I hope when I’m 70 telling jokes on a local channel at 3am someone will watch me and appreciate it.