2002-08-10 / Sports

Iverson’s Brush With

Law Could Happen Again
By Elio Velez

By Elio Velez

It was growing more apparent each day that Philly 76ers’ Allen Iverson would not be charged with 14 counts that included using a weapon, trespassing and conspiracy charges. If anyone noticed what the media, the police and attorneys were saying before Iverson’s hearing that was set on July 29, the Philadelphia DA’s office did not have much of a case if even if it was brought to trial. And it turned out true.

Note the laughable absurdity of Philadelphia Judge James DeLeon, who dismissed 12 of the 14 charges even as he admitted his great like of Iverson. DeLeon admitted that he even wears Iverson t-shirts under his robes while presiding over trials. Deleon said, "I had to stop wearing my Iverson shirt as soon as I got this case." As a supposedly fair-minded judge, I hope Deleon did not ask Iverson for an autographed t-shirt.

The court system may not be perfect but it just might be for Iverson. Only in American can Iverson be charged with 14 serious counts of harassing his wife and others, and still make training camp in September.

At this point, Iverson will only be charged with 2 counts of terrorist threats. After the way Richard Sprague, Iverson’s attorney who finally arrived from his European vacation, destroyed the credibility of witnesses Charles Jones and Hakin Carey, Iverson may get out of a tough jam and I don’t mean a double team near the free throw line.

For any normal John Doe, two counts of terrorist threats, guilty or not, would be taken seriously. Iverson doesn’t seem to care and why should he? Philadelphia’s Assistant District Attorney Charles Ehrlich said last Monday that charges would not be refiled. Even if Iverson were convicted, he would only face probation. Iverson did not even show up for the hearing to set up his Sept. 18 trial date.

Iverson will enter training camp in September a richer man from his contract with Reebok. His thugging and mugging has made him millions and sold more of his jerseys than ever before. And if most people think that’s its only the kids from the projects who buy his jerseys, think again.

I can walk down Beach 116 or 129 Streets and if I don’t see one white kid with a black Sixers jersey, I would be shocked. His popularity reaches all ages and races and not only does the jersey look cool, Iverson’s thug life sure adds to his mystique. He’s getting away with it and that is what sells.

It’s a calculated move by Reebok to use his thug life image to sell shoes. And a lot of shoes do sell for a guy who has a $50 million contract with Reebok. For a man who wanted to portray the image of a doting husband with a wife and two kids in the 2001 run to the NBA Championship with the 76ers, he quickly went back to the image of a tough hardcore dude to sell some Reebok shoes.

I won’t blame the shoe companies by saying they extort these young athletes to falsify their self-image by purporting a fake image. Iverson signed the contract willingly. It does happen of course to some people but its up to Iverson to take the blame for certain aspects of his fake persona blurring with his real one.

Iverson needs to change his image from a wannabe thug really fast. You can still maintain that toughness on the court that gives you the edge over most players that wish they had your talent. Is it that hard to get back to playing the style that electrifies fans from coast to coast and get the 76ers back to the top of the Eastern Conference? How about going to practice with your teammates once in a while? How about strengthening your relationship with your wife and your two children?

This latest brush with the law can be Iverson’s last one if he uses the time before Sixers training camp to brush up on his priorities. If a more serious crime happens to Iverson, Reebok, Philadelphia, the 76ers, his family, friends and fans will all leave him. And the only baskets he will be shooting at will be in a prison yard.

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