Is Allen Iverson really worth his $76 million extension? (No – Smith)

Allen Iverson recently signed a contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers estimated at $76.7 million over four years. All told, that comes out to a little more than $19 million per year.

All I can say is, thank God that he isn’t signing with the Jazz, and that he will only be playing in Utah once a year.

Iverson is a shining example of why the NBA is losing popularity at a record pace.

The glory years are over when the league could tout Michael Jordan as its golden child.

With a charming smile and an incredible sense of fashion, Jordan helped the league soar to record levels of popularity.

Now the league is left with a cornrowed, tattooed, overly pierced guy who is open about his association with his friends from the ‘hood (known to most of us as gangsters or thugs).

A few years ago, Iverson recorded and produced a rap album that never hit the streets because of its foul language and violent messages. (To be clear, I am an advocate of foul language, but not for a person whose image is already so badly tarnished.)

I couldn’t help but laugh when I overheard him in his press conference saying that he had to stay with Philly because he “just couldn’t do that [play for another team] to the kids.”

Was he serious?

What about the kids’ reactions to his thuggish image? What about the rap album-how would that have affected the kids? And what did the kids think about Iverson running around the streets of Philly half-naked with what resembled a gun looking for his wife two summers ago? What about the shooting incident last year outside of a nightclub that left his friend in the hospital.

The absurdity of Iverson claiming that he would do anything for the kids of Philly (who are typically from lower income families and are therefore more prone to lives of crime) is absolutely astounding. It ranks almost as high on the ridiculousness scale as a staunch Mormon arguing passionately in favor of Iverson (as is happening opposite this column). Mike’s love for AI is strangely similar to the scene so common to Utah’s culture, where a religious girl is strangely attracted to a “bad” boy.

The only thing I have to say to Iverson is, “If you want to do something for the kids of your city, clean up your piss-poor image!”

As for my colleague Mike, I wonder if he knows that on the length of Iverson’s right arm is a tattoo of a black panther. The tat is usually hidden because he wears a black sleeve over it during games (as does every kid in Philly, proving the impact he has on the city’s youth).

Make no mistake about it, Black Panthers are decidedly anti-white and typically favor violent solutions to political problems facing African-Americans. Not exactly the kind of message that Philly’s kids need to be hearing.

I could go on and on about Iverson’s antics, but I don’t have the space nor the energy to write a book. Suffice it to say that in a world desperate for role models, Iverson has taken a stance of unforgivable irresponsibility by shirking the title of role model.

Rick Reilly, a renowned Sports Illustrated columnist, wrote of the storm of e-mails and letters received by SI after the publication put a shirtless AI on the cover of its April 23, 2001, issue.

One of the readers who responded with anger was able to capture my own feelings on the subject quite accurately. The letter said, “The stare, tattoos and pants to the waist showing his jockstrap sum up the reason I have not watched an NBA game in years.” (A quick disclaimer: Reilly was unhappy with the reader response and is generally supportive of AI.)

Iverson is not just bad for his city-he is bad for the NBA.

I have to admit that Iverson, as a player, is pretty good. I would be hard-pressed to say that he is not in the top 10 players in the league, but I wouldn’t want him on my team.

The man wins scoring titles, but he does it by throwing up a lot of you-know-what in the hopes that something will fall. He is the most selfish player in the NBA, taking more shots each year than anyone else. It’s no wonder he wins scoring titles.

Charles Barkley said it best a few years ago when, talking of Iverson’s selfish play, he said, “There’s no “I” in team, but there sure is one in Iverson.”

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