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.

"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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7 Lies From F*ckboys That We've All Fallen For At Least Once

They might've had you goin' for a hot second, but you know better now.

There’s no use in even frontin’; we’ve all been there. You know he’s a f*ckboy from the beginning, but you’re interested in pursuing him anyway. Ain't no thang; I fully support you.

You tell yourself you won’t fall for his games or lies because you’ve been through it all so many times before. Yet, time and time again, you find yourself slippin’ for a hot second, wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt until he inevitably disappoints you. Here are the top seven lies you’ve heard from f*ckboys that get you heated every time.

1. You’re the only girl I’m talking to/sleeping with

HAHAHA. OK, first, I don't actually care what (or who) you're doing in your spare time because you're definitely not the only guy I'm seeing either. I'm just asking so I know you're clean, OK? I don't need more stress in my life.

2. I know how to treat girls right

Isn't it super ironic how the WORST f*ckboys are the ones to toss this line?

3. I’ll text you

This statement is so unbelievable that on the off chance that they do actually text you, you basically fall out of your chair in shock.

4. I’m gonna give it to you good

I cry/cringe/die of laughter every time I hear this one because it's always the mediocre ones that throw this line. None of my most memorable hookups have ever said this because their actions clearly speak for them. Mediocre boys, TAKE NOTE.

5. Damn, I wanted to see you though

Well, you were supposed to, but then you clearly had other plans in mind. So the desire wasn’t all that intense, obviously.

6. Yeah, she and I broke up

CLASSIC LIE. CLASSIC. Sure, I believed it the first couple of times, but don’t even try that sh*t with me after I see she’s still blowin’ up your line.

7. *No response for hours after making plans* Damn, sorry I fell asleep

Honestly, how many times are you gonna throw that line when you’re literally viewable on Snap Map. BOY, I see you at someone else’s house. Stop frontin’, there’s no point.

Again, don't ask me why we put up with this sh*t because the mystery remains. I guess in our own sick, twisted ways, we crave the dramatics and thrills that come from their f*ckery. Whatever the reason, though, at least we've got some ~fun~ stories to tell.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube | I'm Shmacked

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15 Of The Most Iconic Figures In Chicago Sports History

Chicago sports fans have been blessed with great teams in the past and present. These are the players and coaches who helped build great teams in Chicago professional sports.


Chicago has always been one of the premier sports cities in America. In all four major North American sports they have fielded some of the best teams of all time in their respective sports. The Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears, Cubs, and White Sox have all had periods of supremacy in 4 competitive leagues. Players and coaches have come and gone, but the truly great ones live in the hearts of fans forever. From the gridiron to the hardwood, these are Chicago's greatest sports icons.

1. Walter Payton, Bears 

Walter Payton was more than just a great running back, he was, and still is, one the most celebrated players in the NFL history. Sweetness is the epitome of great Bears' running backs. His never die easy attitude made him one of the most legendary players ever. He broke Jim Brown's rushing record in 1984, won an MVP award, and won a Super Bowl in 1985. Payton's status as an all time great will never be challenged. Attend a Bears game in 2018 and you will still see number 34 jerseys in the stands.

2. Michael Jordan, Bulls

Michael Jordan put the Chicago Bulls on the map as soon as he entered the league in 1984. It was apparent early on that he would cause headaches for the rest of the league for many years to come. Jordan didn't just win 6 NBA championships and 5 MVPs. He made the game of basketball a global sport. That was never more apparent than during the 1992 Olympic games when Jordan was a part of the legendary Dream Team. Everywhere the team went, everyone wanted to get a glimpse of the best player in the world.

3. Stan Mikita, Blackhawks 

The late Stan Mikita spent his entire 22-year career in the windy city. He still leads the Blackhawks in games played, points, and assists. He was a gentleman off the ice and his impact was felt by everyone. He helped Chicago hoist the Stanley Cup in 1961.

4. Frank Thomas, White Sox 

Frank Thomas was a force to be reckoned with. "The Big Hurt" was the face of the White Sox as their first baseman and designated hitter for 16 years. Thomas was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014. He chose to have his White Sox hat in his hall of fame plaque.

5. Ernie Banks, Cubs 

Ernie Banks defined what it meant to be a Chicago Cub. The man they called "Mr. Cub" was one of the best shortstop's baseball has ever seen. He was the first player to win back-to-back NL MVP awards in 1958-59. Despite never appearing in the postseason, Banks is one of the most legendary Chicago athletes ever.

6. Dick Butkus, Bears

Dick Butkus was the original Monster of the Midway. His demeanor on the field struck fear in the hearts of his opponents. Butkus played in a time before roughing the passer was a serious concern for quarterbacks, and he took full advantage of that. He spent his entire 9-year career with the Bears. During his playing days, he set the bar high for any and all middle linebackers who come to Chicago, Illinois.

7. Scottie Pippen, Bulls 

Scottie Pippen was Jordan's right-hand man during their dynasty in the 90s. He was one of the defining players of his generation and was an iconic Bulls player. For all of Michael Jordan's greatness there would be no dynasty without number 33 by his side.

8. Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks 

Jonathan Toews came to the right town at the right time when he was drafted 3rd overall by Chicago in 2006. In his second season Toews was named team captain, the second youngest in NHL history at the time. In 2010, Toews and the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961. Toews also won the Con Smythe Trophy in 2010 as playoff MVP. He would go on to lead the Blackhawks to two more Stanley Cups in 2013 and 2015. Toews' leadership has kept the Hawks moving forward as he's left his mark in NHL history.

9. "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, White Sox 

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson was a superstar outfielder in the early 1900s. He will be forever linked to the "Black Sox Scandal", when players of the 1919 White Sox fixed the World Series. Jackson was banned from professional baseball in his prime.

10.  George Halas, Bears 

There probably wouldn't be a National Football League if it weren't for George Halas. Halas started his career as an end with the Decatur Staleys. He would move them to Chicago and the Staleys would become the Bears. Halas was a player, coach, and owner for the Bears from 1920 to 1983. He won 6 NFL championships and was the winningest head coach in history when he retired. "Papa Bear" was a co-founder of the NFL way back in 1920. In 1963 Halas and 16 other inductees was a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Bears wouldn't be where they are today if it wasn't for Halas. No coach or owner had more respect from his players than George Halas.

11.  Patrick Kane, Blackhawks 

Patrick Kane was and is one of the cornerstones of the Chicago Blackhawks modern NHL dynasty. He helped lead the Hawks to 3 Stanley Cups from 2010-2015. In 2013 He won the Con Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Kane was the first American player in the NHL to win both the Hart Memorial Trophy as MVP, and the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion. His fast and electric play on the ice has made him one of the most entertaining players of his generation. Kane helped bring the Hawks to glory in the 2010s.

12.  Gale Sayers, Bears 

Gale Sayers was a once in a lifetime athlete. The "Kansas Comet" burst onto the NFL scene like no other rookie had before or since. His God-given talent made him one of the greatest running backs the game has ever seen. He only played pro football for 7 seasons, as knee injuries cut his career short. Bears fans are left to wonder what could have been. But during his time in cleats, Gale Sayers was the perfect Chicago running back.

13.  Joel Quenneville, Blackhawks 

Joel Quenneville was the head man in Chicago from 2008 to 2018. In that span he won 3 Stanley Cups and became the second winningest coach in NHL history. He led the Blackhawks to 9 straight playoff appearances. His personality and leadership were critical in Chicago's success in the rink. He may have been fired recently, but the memories he helped create in Chicago won't be forgotten by true Blackhawks fans.

14.  Ryne Sandberg, Cubs 

Ryne Sandberg spent nearly his entire career in a Cubs uniform. Sandberg was one of the best second baseman of all time. His stats speak for themselves. When he retired, he had hit more home runs than any second basemen in history.

15.  Mike Ditka, Bears 

Mike Ditka was a typical Chicago Bear. He was a tough player and he revolutionized the tight end position. He became the head coach of the Bears in 1982 and three years later he led the Bears to their first Super Bowl title. His toughness defined him both in the field and on the sidelines. He is one of the most iconic figures in Chicago sports as a player and coach.

Chicago is the 3rd largest city in America. Their professional sports franchises have brought championships and many great memories to the residents of the great city. Some teams will have their ups and downs in the future. But Chicago's past proves that good times are ahead. Each major sports league has historic franchises in Chicago and the memories these icons created will last a lifetime.

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