Allen Iverson Is My Hero Because He Was Passionate, Authentic, And Vulnerable

Allen Iverson Is My Hero Because He Was Passionate, Authentic, And Vulnerable

Seeing Allen Iverson in person was the closest I've ever come to seeing Jesus Christ come back to life.
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"I didn't want to be Michael or Magic...I wanted to be Allen Iverson." " - LeBron James

Back in the days of dial-up Internet, I used to go on to the NBA website and wait minutes at a time for NBA games stats to refresh. In particular, I'd follow one player: Allen Iverson. I'd check what he did the last play, how many points he scored, assists he dished out, steals he had. I remember this used to be the highlight of my young childhood nights, and one night, I had the chills and could not sleep from something incredible he'd done: Allen Iverson scored 60 points on February 12, 2015, against the Orlando Magic.

I am a Philadelphia sports fan because of Allen Iverson. Even though I only lived in Philly for one year when I was really young, the Sixers are my favorite team in sports to this day - and to that, I owe one man, the man who made the biggest cultural impact on the NBA: Allen Iverson.

I was working a 7-hour shift at work the other day at my university gym as sports camps for kids were happening, and as I'm doing rounds around the gym, I hear a rumor from one of my co-workers.

"People here are freaking out about a famous basketball player."

"Who?" I ask.

"Allen Iverson."

No way, I thought. Someone probably just started a stupid rumor. There was absolutely no way Allen Iverson was actually in our gym, so I didn't get too excited because I didn't want to buy into false hope. However, I saw kids sprinting to the top floor of our building. Apparently, there must have been something there worth checking out.

And walking around the gym, I still didn't see him. Looking closer, there was one person sitting in the middle of the court helping coach the kids that stood out, and he was wearing a red bucket hat. I saw the tattoos, saw the chains, I saw the cornrows. It was actually him. It was actually Allen Iverson.

I stood there for 20 minutes in utter disbelief, completely unable to shut up to every spectator near me, pointing out the person to make sure I wasn't dreaming or hallucinating.

This was my hero, standing only 100 feet away from me. I held him to such status and influence when I was a kid that I never thought I would actually see him in person, and yet there Allen Iverson was, on the phone as he watched the kids play ball.

I had to go back to work for a little bit, but any downtime I had, I went back to the top floor, trying to get as many pictures as I could that weren't grainy and hard to see.

I stayed there intermittently, just staring at him play basketball and take pictures with some of the kids for three hours, still freaking out in utter disbelief. I could never get close enough to take a picture with him or try to talk to him, but just seeing Allen Iverson in person, on the phone, playing basketball with little kids, was the closest I've ever come to seeing Jesus Christ come back to life.


A player built like Allen Iverson should not have been a great NBA player - at 6'0" (5'10" probably without shoes), 165 pounds, A.I. did not have the size to compete with the greats of his time.

There was Kobe, T-Mac, Vince, but then there was the Answer. He was just differently from the rest. He was an iconoclast in not only the way he played the game, but how he carried himself. They called A.I. inefficient, a ballhog, a thug, a basketball player that didn't practice. And with each label, positive or negative, he gained my attention - because Iverson carried on and persevered, and never stopped playing every game like it was his last.

He would drive into the lane and take hits from two guys much bigger than him, and then come back the next play and do the same thing. He would dare to go head-to-head against the greats, like his famous crossover over MJ when he was only a rookie. And then there was one of the greatest shots in NBA history - the crossover and then fadeaway over Tyronn Lue that iced a memorable game 1 against the indomitable Lakers in the finals. If there was any athlete that was the epitome of heart, it was he.

He was David going against Goliath every single possession, and he did it while averaging 41.1 minutes a game his career. The only other NBA players to do so? The greats: Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, and Bill Russell.

And it wasn't the fact that he was a great player - it was the way he carried himself off the court. Allen Iverson was just different - and inspired a cultural evolution of the NBA.

I don't think of A.I. as a hero in that he was perfect - in an objective analysis of his impact - he is as most humans are: an anti-hero. There was a lot of good, a lot of bad, and a lot of mediocre, and what each depends on who you are and how you see things. I wish he would have agreed to extend his career by agreeing to come off the bench. I wish he would not have gambled as much on defense.

However, Iverson was the realest player to every grace the NBA, and that's what makes people love him. Bryan Arhem Graham of "The Atlantic" captures what made so many NBA viewers of my generation love A.I. so much:

"Yet even as he stumbled—and stumble he did—there was an authenticity to Iverson that made him a magnetic public figure. In an era of sanitized athletes with meticulously cultivated images, Iverson’s lack of filter made him an anomaly. He compromised for no one. Whether you loved him or hated him, you could not look away. "

As such, he was one of the most polarizing and divisive players in NBA history. He has been labeled the NBA's "most controversial superstar." I love Allen Iverson not despite all of his perceived flaws and misgivings, but because of them. Flawed, but accepting of those flaws, the fact that the city of Philadelphia and fans like myself loved him because he was so human.

But I believe, to my heart, that no player was more misunderstood as A.I. No moment of his career is more misunderstood than the infamous practice rant that many attribute humorously a lack of work ethic and immaturity.


What people forget (or maybe never knew), is that yes, without context, that's what it means. But the real story is much murkier once the details and emotions behind the story are known.

The team had just been knocked out of the first round of the 2002 NBA playoffs, a major disappointment from having gone to the NBA finals the year before.

And my gripe with the video now is that it only shows part of the interview, the most meme-worthy part. No one knows the detail that Iverson was still actively grieving the death of his best friend, Rashaan Langford. Only a few days before the interview, the murder trial for Langford's death began.

"I'm upset for one reason: 'Cause I'm in here. I lost. I lost my best friend. I lost him, and I lost this year. Everything is just going downhill for me, as far as just that. You know, as far as my life. And then I'm dealing with this. ... My best friend is dead. Dead. And we lost. And this is what I have to go through for the rest of the summer until the season is all over again."

And that captures another part of what made Iverson such an icon and beloved figure, and ultimately, my hero. Allen Iverson was vulnerable. He was vulnerable his whole career - tell me what athlete is open to the public with their flaws, tribulations, and shortcomings all the time? What athlete carries through those without shame and only acceptance of who he was, who made mistakes and didn't try to cover them up?

That was Allen Iverson. All heart. All the time.

Cover Image Credit: Ryan Fan

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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21 Tips For Creating a Kick-Ass Résumé

Your first line of defense is advertising yourself.

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As a college student, the importance of writing an exceptional resume is heavily stressed. You want to be prepared when you start applying for jobs! Whether it's your first job, a temporary job, or a position that will result in the start of your career, a kick-ass resume will make all the difference.

A résumé is simply a snapshot of your education, experiences, and skills. In other words, you as an individual, are advertising yourself. You want to portray that you are more than qualified for a position. It is important to remember that even if you are not exactly qualified, you may still portray yourself as someone who is responsible, hard-working, and communicable. More often than not, your résumé will be the employer's first impression of you, therefore you need to make it a positive and lasting one.

1. Include an objective statement at the beginning.

This should be one sentence of what type of position you are looking for. In this section, you can add in phrases that describe your experiences. Remember to be clear and concise.

For example: To obtain [a position] in which my [education, expertise, and social and personal skills] may be utilized in a positive and efficient disposition.

In the statement above, you would insert what is specific to you and your own skills and job search!

2. Include your address at the top.

It's important for you to include your address on your résumé. I usually add mine right under my name. It lets employers see how far away you are from the place of employment. Some might overlook it, others don't. The tricky thing is when you have a permanent address and a local address. You could add both to your résumé or explain if you've been given the go-ahead for an interview.

3. Including your contact information is pertinent.

I would say that your contact information is much more important than your address. Employers might not really care if you don't list your address but they definitely will care if you don't include your contact information. Your contact information typically includes your phone number (either cell, home, or both) as well as your email! The email should be a professional one, it shouldn't be some ridiculous username that you made up in the 4th grade. This allows employers to contact you if they want you for an interview.

4. ALWAYS include a section for your education and (work) experience.

The tricky thing about résumés is that they are individually tailored. In terms of the sections on the résumé, you have a handful to choose from. You could include skills, awards, volunteer experiences, leadership experiences, or research. You have to choose what is most important to you and what will most accurately portray you as an individual. The two absolute sections you should always include is your education and your work experience!

5. Under your education section...

It is important to understand that in many cases, the university you attended is not what is most important. Focus on your degree (otherwise your area of concentration). It doesn't matter if you went to Florida State University or the University of Tampa, employers (post-graduation) will be focusing on your area of study. They want to know what you focused on and how that can be applied in the future.

It is also very important to include your expected graduation or the year you graduated. This allows employers to put it all into perspective.

6. Under the (work) experience section...

Include the names of all employment places, your start and end date, and a small description of your duties and skills. It is not as important to express your duties more so than it is to emphasize your accomplishments and promotions.

7. Word play is essential.

Incorrect example (for a server): I took orders, served food, cleaned tables, and closed checks.

Correct example: Assisted customers in order selection, recommended specific menu items, and ensured prompt, accurate service.

Don't forget that your résumé is the first impression employers will have of you! Use this to your advantage and hype yourself up in all the appropriate ways!

8. (Reverse) Chronological order is key.

I cannot stress this enough! Under any section, whether it's your education, experiences, or awards, utilize chronological order. Employers want to see your most recent experiences and honors first, not last! Your experience section should start with your most recent job and end with your oldest job.

9. Dates, dates, DATES!

Dates allow employers to put everything into perspective. Every section should be date and in chronological order.

"Oh, your last job was three years ago?"

"Oh, you received three promotions within the span of a year?"

Trust me, if you don't include dates, I guarantee you that you will be asked when you did what and for how long.

10. Focus on a simple format.

Résumés should be very easy to glance over. It should provide a quick, simple, and easy snapshot of your qualifications. Don't utilize a variety of colors or different fonts all over. Stick with one font, one size (except for headings), and maybe one or two colors.

11. Preferably 11-point font!

Most places, more likely than not, will prefer that you use 11-point font. Feel free to use 12-point font, but remember that you want to depict as much information you can within a limited amount of space. The rule of thumb is typically 10 -12 point font. Most places would prefer a lot of information with little white space rather than a larger font and a longer résumé.

12. Times New Roman is the way to go.

Every high school and college kid already knows ... Times New Roman is where it's at. It is clean, crispy, and easy to read. It's not too fancy or too "extra," it's the perfect font. I'm not saying that nothing but Times New Roman can be used but... why mess with a classic?

If you decided you don't want to use it, pick any other font that is conservative and simple.

13.  Two pages, at most. 

Once again, résumés are to provide a quick snapshot. Employers don't want to read every thing you've ever done. They want you to choose what you think is the most important. You need to keep it concise, simple, and brief. Most employers will prefer a résumé that is only one page. However, most are open to two pages. Do not, whatsoever, write more than two pages. Keep in mind that a cover letter can be utilized to help add more information that couldn't be squeezed into your resume.

14.  Align all content!

You shouldn't have things added in all over your résumé. It needs to have a semblance of order and balance. Keep it all justified throughout your paper. All titles/sections should follow one alignment while all the information within each section follows another. Align your content but also use the alignment to create clear sections.

15.  Bold and italicize.

This can really help make the important information on your résumé stick out. Better yet, it can also help you create clear sections. I tend to bold all the subtitles/sections: education, experience, skills, etc. I italicize pertinent information underneath each section. For example, under my bolded experience section, I will list the job I held in my regular Times New Roman font, then italicize the position I held. It helps the reader's eye immensely.

16.  Add pops of color to make your résumé stand out.

When I say pops of color, I don't mean rainbow font or bright pink letters! Remember, the key is to keep it simple! You can get around having a boring black and white résumé by adding a thin border to your paper! As I attend FSU, I make my border a deep maroon color! This is easy to do, looks very clean, and makes your résumé stand out!

17.  Tailor your résumé to every job.

Every job is different. Every job will require different abilities and skills. Every job will look for different things. What you might want to include on your résumé for one job might not be what you want for another. You have to basically pick and choose what is appropriate! Keep that in mind and always go over your résumé before turning it into any employer.

18.  Proofread, proofread, proofread!

Proofread! I don't know how many times I have to say it for you to get it but... proofread! Understand that this résumé is going to be what your employer first associates with you. Do not give them some poorly written piece of paper that is hard to read. They will automatically discard you from the pile of applicants. Reread your résumé upon making it. Look it over before submitting it. If need be, have a roommate, parent, or teacher look it over for you! Who knows, they might have some advice on how to make it more exceptional.

19.  If nothing else... use Grammarly.

PROOFREAD. But once again, if you are the type of person who hates going back over things, use Grammarly. It's free. You can upload the document or download it onto your computer and it will highlight errors as you go. I cannot stress this enough... proofread.

20.  Word/Websites have pre-formatted résumé templates for you.

If you are too lazy to take the time to sit down and create your own résumé that is tailored to you, don't sweat it. Many people do. In some cases, people don't know where to start. If you are one of these people, don't fret! Just search up résumé templates on Word or online and a gazillion will pop up! Just insert your information as you go! I tend to stay away from templates because it's hard to add in certain things or change something I don't like. I stick to making my own.

21.  Do not lie on your paper.

I get that writing a résumé is stressful. You might assume that employers might not fact check every single piece of information on your résumé but it doesn't hurt to be careful. It is important that you realize that it might come back to haunt you. Your employer could ask you all about it and then you'd be screwed.

These are all of the tips and tricks I utilize when writing my professional résumé! I hope this helps you prepare for your next big interview, best of luck!

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