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Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 at 12:25 pm  |  18 responses

No Questions Asked

Allen Iverson’s first SLAM cover story.

He accepts the burden as “just another responsibility” a young brotha must deal with in order to survive.

“I can accept all of the tags people give me,” he says after a season of dealing with crowds calling him “OJ,” ignorant fans yelling “Go back to jail,” and schools playing “Jailhouse Rock” during time-outs. It got so ugly that one time Coach Thompson, being pops on the spot, refused to play a game until the opposition started “acting civilized.”

Through this, Allen’s age of innocence finds depth. He’s in so much control it’s scary. Where other brothas would be annoyed, angered and well…pissed, Allen remains calm. Just like his “father” taught him. Life, not basketball will carry you through.

What does not kill us only makes us stronger. In other words, “You go boy!” Everyday Allen knows that he carries a different type of pride around with him, in his heart and mind. The luxury now is that he doesn’t have to carry it on his own. On the court Othella Harrington and Jerome Williams will help him become Big East player-of-the-Year and NCAA Defensive Player-of-the-Year. Off the court, Coach Thompson will help Allen fight off rumors-and temptation- of turning pro after the season. His future could be so much more damaging and out of control than his past. It’s frightening. In the exploitation of his situation, Allen is about to run into this game called life. He’s fortunate to have “Big poppa” as his guide, his protection, his father for life or at least for the next two years.

The answer. He slips the grey kente-trimmed #3 uniform over his head. The five letters, HOYAS, spread across his chest like a shield, a badge of honor. It’s real, however, not a replica. Although he is right-handed, his left arm carries the answer, A tattoo is engraved in the form of a bulldog. Above the mascot (“a coincidence,” he says) are two simple words: THE ANSWER. The symbolism. The logic. As his sinewy 6-0 175 pound body prepares to go to war, you realize that nothing is missing. Every aspect of his game, from offense to defense, is complete. In a conference that will be as star-studded as last year’s ACC, Iverson will make everybody recognize that he-not the tattoo-is the answer.

Coach Thompson, towel in check, calls Allen to the sideline. A simple pat on the back of the head speaks volumes. That’s the power he’s got. Allen breathes deep. Maintains control. Then continues to do his thing like there is no other. Mecca and the soul brotha. As Allen dips, defenders trip, slip and fall. The world’s not ready for this. John Thompson lives for this. This is his “son,” and he’s proud. He’s done good. Thompson and Iverson. Cliff and Theo. Some guys have all the luck, and some…well, they just deserve it.

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  • http://www.slamonline.com Mojtaba Reza

    wow ………. amazing piece of an even more amazing person

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ 1982

    I miss Scoop.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Funny how many times this story was written in some form, by someone..
    Iverson’s impact and the reaction to him, have been the same for so long.

  • Jeremy

    What an incredible piece. I did tear up a bit, but that okay. Wish I could have watched him play in person, anyone here get the chance to
    ? care to share

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Reading this reminds me of living in Hampton Roads, VA.

  • Brooks C.

    Big Shouts to Scoop Jackson for the article and BIG shouts to one of the greats in the NBA Allen Iverson… regardless of what ppl say about him he was one of the most unstoppable players in NBA history even with him being really 5’10-5’11 160 pounds… Most def should be Hall of Fame first ballot… Bad knees and age has caught up with him now but hopefully he’ll be back in the league dis year!!!

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ 1982

    I saw him live 2001-2002. Fastest up and down the court bar none – they won versus Golden State. Nothing too memorable game wise, but seeing him in person made me realize how ridiculous of a player he really was. Unstoppable.

  • HAMMER

    Co-sign 1982.

  • HAMMER

    Let the record’s show that the co-sign was 1982′s comment @ 1:19. Scoop was the man.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    AllenP or any other Iverson Historian where did his nickname the Answer come from? Himself? This Article? John Thompson? do you know?

  • J

    Love this article!
    ALLEN IVERSON is such a talented player, I remember sitting courtside in awe of his speed, determination and confidence.
    He is fearless and so energetic on the court which is much more than you can say for many of the players in the league today.
    During the last few years he was not the right fit for the teams he played for, being asked to sit on the bench when players who are not experienced or comparable are starters is very difficult to accept.
    AI needs to be on a championship-worthy team.
    He deserves respect for all he brought to the NBA.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    @ nbk: I’m not exactly sure, but it might have been a marketing thing by Reebok–he wore the questions, so the next shoes would be “The Answers” and the name just stuck. Again, don’t quote me on this.

  • http://slamonline.com 1982

    The Answer was one of his nicknames before Georgetown, it was a local thing his friends called him. I read it in his biography.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I saw him play in D.C. when I was in college. It was after the lockout when they were running the cheap tickets specials, and I went with my homies at least two of the times he came into the city to play the Juwan Howard- Wizards.
    Iverson easily had more fans in the building than the Wizards, and they were on pins and needles waiting for him to kill the entire game. Any nice move got the crowd buzzing. I remember after pretty much coasting to an easy 25-28 for most of the game, he caught a Wizard on the break and and gave him a series of crossovers. The crowd was hype, me included, and he didn’t even use the Big Dog crossover on him. Then he splashed the jumper, casually ran down the court, and the building cheered him the entire way. It was crazy.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    NBK
    According to his autobiography and other sources, he got it from a friend. I can’t remember the exact story off the top of my head, but at one point he got sued by someone who said that they gave him the nickname and deserved to get paid.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Good lookin out, I’ve been trying to figure out where it came from for a while.

  • Pingback: Allen Iverson career retrospective | The Point Forward - SI.com

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