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.