Book of Rhymes: Not A Game - The Incredible Rise & Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson

Posted On Wednesday, June 10, 2015

When it comes to Allen Iverson I honestly think I was dude's biggest fan. Now, riddle me this...what was the key word in that sentence? Yup...ya'll guessed it..."was." I can't remember the first time I saw Iverson because I wasn't a huge college hoops dude back in the early/mid 90's but the thing that stood out to me about dude was of course those ill Georgetown unis but more importantly was dude's bulldog tattoo. Before Iverson, I thought tattoos were for bikers, crazy folk and wrestlers (see Dennis Rodman and Bam Bam Bigelow) but Iverson made that bulldog tat seem like it was the dopest thing in the world. I remember when the Sixers got the #1 pick, I was hype as hell that this dude might be actually running point for MY squad. Well, we all know what came next. A rack of exciting moments in South Philly & throughout the NBA, the MVP trophy, that 2000-2001 Finals run and stopping the Lakers' sweep through the playoffs and that infamous step over Tyron Lue moment, all the all star appearances, etc. etc. But there were also a rack of for a lack of better words, fucked up moments in South Philly too. From court cases, shelved rap albums, no shows appearances, suspensions, gun charges, martial issues and of course the infamous practice rant that everybody from Jazzy Jeff & J Live to my dude Fanat used in their rhymes. The straw that broke the camel's back for me was back in '07 when Iverson was a no show at a bowling event in Philly for families of season ticket holders because he was beefing with Mo Cheeks. Why was that the final straw for me? Because at that time I had just become a father and all I could think about was what if I had promised my daughter a chance to meet Allen Iverson and this asshole doesn't show up? And the reason was because he was beefing with his coach? And now baby girl is sad and disappointed?!?!?! Nah bruh, I was done with dude after that.

Throughout his years with the Nuggets, Pistons and Grizzlies, I really didn't keep up with dude cause I really didn't care anymore. In fact, after he was done in Memphis I didn't want us to sign him cause I'm a big believer of once a relationship is's over. Plus I knew it wouldn't end well, cause to be honest, nothing seems to ever end well for Iverson. Then last year one of my old heads stepped to me about going up to Philly for Iverson's jersey retirement and my first thought was "nah, I'm good." But after a quick back and forth, I realized I couldn't turn down a free Sixers game, a trip to the crib AND a Larry's chicken I went. And I'm glad I did. I can't really explain it but the second I stepped in the Wells Fargo, ALL of those dope Iverson memories came flooding back to me. All of those exciting moments. All of those crossovers. All of those game winning shots. It was like I was 22 years old again. And after the highlight reel, his speech and seeing his jersey hanging in the rafters next to Dr. J, Moses Malone and other Sixers legends, all those years of me not caring, went right out the window. And for a brief moment in time, I was an Iverson fan again. So, when word got to ear that there was a new book on Iverson dropping, it was a no brainer it was getting copped. And not only did it get copped but it got banged out in 2 days. FYI, my record for reading a book is 1 day to help give you a perspective on how good the book was and that I couldn't put it down.

One of the dopest things I like about Kent Babb's book is the way that it's laid out. The way it's written is that it goes back and forth between the past and the future. So you'll get one chapter about Iverson back in high school and going through his trial and then the next chapter will deal with the money issues that he's dealing with now. So for someone who may not know Iverson's story, will be on the edge of their seat to find out what happened and how did this cat went from being the #1 pick in the NBA draft to having to whisper on the phone to his old teammate Samuel Dalembert asking to borrow money. Yeah, AI was asking to borrow money from SAM DALEMBERT! Not to mention, by me being the Iverson dude that I was, I always felt like I knew everything about dude so what was a Showtime documentary or this new book gonna teach me? And when it came to that Showtime doc, I didn't learn anything new from it. A lot of reminiscing but like KRS One & Just Ice said, it wasn't saying nuthin new. But with this book, there's absolutely NO WAY that you're gonna finish this without learning a rack of new stuff about Iverson. In fact, what really lead me to buying the book in the first place was seeing stuff online on different sports sites about Iverson being drunk during his practice rant. Now, even though I don't think he was drunk (but what do I know?) trust me when I tell you there are a million Iverson nuggets (so many, I had to start highlighting them cause some of them are SO unbelievable) that you're gonna walk away with. Plus, where the Showtime doc fall short in my eyes is that it doesn't REALLY deal with the downfall that BIG talked about. But this book not only deals with the downfall but it breaks it down so that it can forever and consistently be broke.

The Cosby Show is one of my fav TV shows EVER because it's always been so relatable. When I was growing up, I saw myself in Theo. Whether it was dealing with girls, school, bad grades, or dealing with girls again, I felt like I was Theo. And now that I 'm a parent I watch the show through the eyes of Cliff and Claire. And that's how I reading this book. See, when he got drafted in '96, I was 22 years old and I LOVED his fuck the world attitude! Wanna get a million tattoos? That's what's up. Don't wanna go to practice? Don't go! I mean...we're just talking about practice! Wanna wear a doo rag to your MVP ceremony? Why not? Rep your hood! Now, the problem that began to rear it's ugly head is I started maturing but Iverson didn't. So while reading Babb's book, instead of saluting Iverson for missing practice (like I used to) I'm pissed off that this dude left a blazing trail of bullshit for the 6 (yes this dude had 6 coaches in his career...I NEVER understand how this dude's name doesn't come up as a coach killer but Deron Williams' does smdh) coaches, management and fans had to deal with. But at the end of the day, Iverson's story is a sad one. And while I know a lot of folk who don't feel sorry for him, I do. I feel like Iverson was the guinea pig for the "new" black athlete. No one was ready for Iverson when he came int he league with his tats, corn rows, playground styles, etc. I mean, does anyone think that NBA commissioner David Stern starts going to Rucker Park game if Iverson didn't bring the playground to the league? Does And 1 even have the And 1 mixtape tour without Iverson's influence? Do tattoo artists' work flow quadruple if not for the Answer? Does EVERYONE this side of Mars start wearing a shooting sleeve if AI didn't rock it first? Probably not. The saddest part is with all of his influence on the entire world, this dude only had one endorsement, and that was with Reebok. I know I said earlier, that it never seems to end well for dude but hopefully this is one of the many times that I'm wrong. Cause if there's anybody out here that needs a new nigga for this black cloud to's Iverson.

4.5 outta 5

And for a 'lil treat outta my personal collection of game tape, check out Iverson while he was at Georgetown going head to head with Stephon Marbury reppin Tech in the Garden back in '95! Where else ya'll gonna see something like this but here?

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