Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson Hardcover – Jun 2 2015
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"A searingly honest and intimate portrait of a captivating icon, but also a cautionary tale for any young star. Kent Babb captures the complexity of Allen Iverson from all angles in a fascinating must-read for all sports fans." (Baxter Holmes, ESPN NBA reporter)
“Allen Iverson was impossible to ignore, a one man hurricane, on the court and off; equal parts dynamic and depressing. With Not a Game Kent Babb brilliantly tells his story and it's a tour de force like AI himself.” (Dan Wetzel, National Columnist, Yahoo Sports and New York Times bestselling author)
“Babb’s thorough storytelling empathetically ebbs and flows between Iverson’s trials and triumphs, connecting the dots while taking the reader on an emotional truth-seeking ride of nostalgia, hope, and exasperation . . . . Not a Game is engrossing and definitely to be read and discussed.” (Shana Renee Stephenson, founder and editor-in-chief, AllSportsEverything.com)
“Allen Iverson’s is a life unfathomable to most. With Not a Game, Kent Babb questions the enigma that is The Answer, taking readers into a world most don’t know — and, quite frankly, most don’t want to know — exists in America.” (John Valenti, Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and author of Swee’pea, the story of New York City basketball legend Lloyd Daniels)
"For better or worse, Allen Iverson has the uncompromising "my way" persona. Kent Babb eloquently, and at times poignantly, captures Iverson's swagger—raw and flawed, regal yet real." (Benjamin Hochman, sports columnist, The Denver Post)
“This is more than just great sports writing, this is writing at its best. Babb strips away the public persona of iconic superstar Allen Iverson to tell a stunning story of triumph, tribulation and ultimate tragedy. It’s a must-read about a complex hero who had it all for too short a time.” (R.G. Belsky, author of The Kennedy Connection and The Midnight Hour)
"Babb delves deep into Iverson’s inscrutable soul. This is a sad but fascinating read.” (Publishers Weekly)
“It pricks the skin and provokes a response.” (The Washington Post)
About the Author
Kent Babb is a Sports Enterprise Writer at The Washington Post, which he joined in October 2012. His work was included in the 2013 edition of The Best American Sports Writing, and his long-form journalism has been honored eight times by the Associated Press Sports Editors, including first place in feature writing in 2005 and 2010.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book felt like a combination of Mickey Mantle meets Mike Tyson. Like Mantle, Iverson was a Hall of Fame player in his sport, yet he remains an undependable alcoholic whose greatness could have been even more amazing. Like Tyson, Iverson burned through a staggering amount of wealth while being bled dry by moochers and hangers on.
The book does include somewhat shocking stories of a destitute Iverson calling up ex teammates and asking to borrow money by 2011 and violent fights with his wife, Tawanna, that included chasing her around Philadelphia with a gun and vowing to either "...die or I'm going to jail. And I guarantee you I'm not going to die." But it is the "We talkin' 'bout practice" rant that is seemingly the most fascinating part of the book.
I am a huge fan of playing low-level poker, and Atlantic City was where I first heard that the genesis for the practice rant was that Iverson was an alcoholic who would keep vampire hours and frequently drink to excess in A.C. until 8-9 a.m., then be unable to make practice a few hours later. The Babb book confirms that Iverson was drunk during the rant. It blows my mind that a guy could miss 70 practices in one year. The excuses became so laughable that Sixers coach Larry Brown kept a running tally in his office for how many times each member of Iverson's family was sick or how often Iverson would have car troubles and be unable to attend practice. At the end, Brown got to the point where he was indifferent to whether or not Iverson came to practice because he was such a colossal pain in the *** when he would show up at practice too hung over to do anything or still drunk from the night before.
Babb's book talks about 76ers general manager Billy King standing off-camera a few feet from Iverson during the practice rant and contemplating whether or not he should just walk in front of the cameras and end the press conference. Former 76ers team President Pat Croce, who was instrumental in the team drafting Iverson, was watching the press conference at home and turned the channel once he realized Iverson was drunk and ranting. Croce sandbagged Brown into taking the 76er job by telling the coach that Iverson was an "angel" and that the two of them would get along splendidly.
Throughout the book, Babb wrestles with whether or not Iverson is a bad guy who occasionally does some good things or a good guy who just never grew up or was forced to take responsibility for his actions. In addition to many stories about Iverson coming home so drunk that he would frequently urinate on the floor (if he came home at all) and being so apathetic to his five children that he did not even know where they went to school, the book contains stories of incredible acts of kindness from Iverson such as kicking back his daily per diem to Sixers equipment personnel and the lifelong bond he has formed with the Georgetown medical trainer, Lorrie Michel.
Babb went through a litany of events that Iverson no showed, even going so far as to sit at a bar and get drunk rather than attend his own basketball camp that charged middle school campers $225 a head to supposedly meet Iverson. In the end, though, Babb offers at least a fleeting hope that Iverson can salvage the rest of his life. Larry Brown left Philadelphia because he had grown tired of dealing with Iverson, but the coach continues to reach out to the star player, just to see how he is doing and if the awful stories he has heard recently are really true. It was Brown who used his connections with 76ers management to get the team to bring Iverson back for a swan song in 2010. Ultimately, though, Iverson screwed up his last chance in the NBA by remaining unreliable.
In the book's epilogue, Babb continues to wrestle with his feelings about Iverson, an irresponsible alcoholic prone to acts of incredible kindness. "The point was not that he was [either good or bad,] a friend or a headache." wrote Babb. "A caring family man or an overgrown child without regard for responsibility, an astonishing success or a man who lost it all. He was both."
Personally, I never had illusions that Iverson was a saint. But he certainly comes across as less likable than he was before I read Babb's book.
Kent Babb’s Not a Game provides this story and more by depicting both sides of Allen Iverson’s life, beginning with his troubled childhood in Virginia and his first athletic achievements, leading to his inelegant departure from the NBA, his dwindling fortune, and the ongoing conflict between he and his wife. This book is a poignant reminder of Iverson’s charms and all the ways he endeared himself to the public. Iverson fans will picture him at his best, envisioning his captivating smile and many nuances, and reliving his greatest moments. They will also feel the pangs of seeing their once beloved superstar essentially sabotaging his own future, and the lack of effort of those closest to him to steer him in the right direction. The hope will remain that somewhere in the pages of this book Iverson will come to his senses and make out all right. Not a Game is a must read for anyone looking for the untold story of Allen Iverson, and also for those intrigued by how celebrity can often prevent us from fully acknowledging the flaws of our favorite superstars.
and i don't think the book will sway you one way or the other if you are cool with him or in different.iverson was tough and a complex figure and yet he was that real is real personality. a deep read.