Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Missing Allen Iverson. By Katz Salao

For weeks now, my social media timeline has been exploding with all forms of basketball-centric posts. The regular season is upon us. I see arguments between haters and fans. I see rants by stressed-out NBA fantasy managers because of all the injuries. The NBA is back. It’s already all so massively entertaining and we’ve only just begun.

While everyone is happily praising their beloved teams and trashing their vile enemies, I had a realization. I have not seen my favorite player do his crossover in this kind of setting in over four seasons. I still wonder. How do I survive as a basketball fan without Allen Iverson?

I mean…how am I surviving as a basketball fan without Allen Iverson?

Damn. Even typing that was painful. In understand. It all sounds a bit silly. I know. I know. It’s been a while. It has been years since he last made an impact on the floor, months since his jersey retirement ceremony with the Sixers, so I should have accepted this already.

But it’s hard to breathe. There’s heaviness in my chest. I’m physically hurting. I appreciate the pain, though. It’s assurance of a love that’s real. The love-is-forever kind. The kind that makes me certain I’ve loved.

I loved Allen Iverson. I still do.

Iverson had a glorious career. Correction: Allen Iverson himself was glorious. It frustrates me that whenever I mention that he’s still my favorite, I end up hearing all the tired labels. Overconfident. Selfish. Practice. I loved him because he was beyond what he was often tagged as. He was just being A.I.

What critics saw as arrogance, I called fearless. Maybe that’s why I fearlessly defend him, too. In an era of bigger, taller, stronger men better fit to play the game, it was him they called The Answer. Barely 6-feet, tatted up, cornrowed, cocky. He was the same hero who crossed up the great Michael Jordan, who fought gallantly versus fan-favorite Vince Carter, who carried his team to the finals to face the Shaq-led Lakers. Remember all of these? I do. It hurts, because that’s all I can do now. Remember.

I love Allen Iverson. I miss watching him on the court. I miss him each time I see an arm-sleeve on a current all-star. I miss him when athletes today display incredible speed. Sure, there will be other players I might like, maybe a few I might actually love, but it will always be A.I. for me. Who is, pound-for-pound, the greatest, most hard-wearing, most fascinating basketball player of all time? I’m grateful I know and love The Answer. KS

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