רציתי להרים את הפוסט הזה כבר בלילה שבו אלן אייברסון הודיע על הפרישה שלו, אבל רק כרגע קיבלתי את האישור מאי אס פי אן לפרסם בו את הסיפור שכתבתי עבורם לפני שנתיים.
זה פחות פוסט, אלא שחזור של שתי כתבות שכתבתי על אייברסון: אחת במסע שערכתי בעקבות התחנות של חייו זמן קצר אחרי מתקפת הטרור על אמריקה, כשאייברסון היה בשיא יכולתו ואני עוד חיפשתי מה לעשות עם החיים שלי.
בכתבה השניה נסעתי אחרי אייברסון לטורקיה. הוא היה בשלהי הקריירה, והחיים שלי התחילו לקבל מסגרות.
אייברסון הוא לא איזה גורו טיבטי, אבל אם אני צריך לסכם אותו במילה אחת, המילה תהיה אומץ. לא האומץ לקחת כדור ולהיכנס לתוך איזור של אנשים גדולים וחזקים ממך. זה עשה גם מרברי. אני מדבר על האומץ לקבל את עצמך ולחיות עם זה בשלום.
והכתבה מהמגזין של אי אס פי אן באנגלית:
Allen Iverson is in a sweet and familiar spot. He’s the most known athlete in a sport-mad city, where basketball is only a second fiddle, and where his team, Besiktas, is only the third most popular team in Istanbul.
And he is dribbling at the top of the key, with the shot clock inching down to the point where coach orders are a mere suggestion.
Well, since nothing in this world is really perfect, it is just a practice, but still: Iverson is dribbling down the ticks, standing on the top of the key he screens his options, changes the ball from one hand to the other, and when the seconds narrow down to 03, he shifts his whole body to the left, and then move the ball with his right palm to the right. There are only two seconds on the clock…
A few days after this practice session, Besiktas hosted Germany’s Gottingen for a European Cup game.Iverson, again, was injured. He has signed with Besiktas after getting no interest from any NBA team to apply for his talents. Iverson went to play in Turkey to prove, again, to all the doubters that he still belongs. He sounds convinced and sure of himself when he was talking about his comeback.
But what Iverson came to learn in Istanbul is that his make up has changed. Now, it is his body that will not listen to his soul.
Iverson stepped out of the locker room just a few minutes before the game started. He was wearing a corduroy brown loose suit with white T-shirt and matching white sneakers and a brown Minnesota Twins baseball cup. With his diamond watch, earrings and cross chain, he looked like someone who had won the lottery and opted not to give up his day job at UPS.
A one-man posse screened out all requests for autographs and pictures, allowing Iverson to constantly massage his blackberry with texting. The arena, with a capacity of 3,000 it looked like an average mid-major home court, was empty but 300 diehards.
“It takes a certain talent for a European to play in the NBA,” explained to me a local journalist, “But it takes a certain kind of a character for an American to be successful in Europe. Here, it is not an individual game of isolation. It is more a team effort of trust and help. Allen doesn’t get it.”
And it’s not just on the court that Iverson doesn’t get it. “We adore our sport teams and we worship our superstar,” told me a fan during the game. “Even if he would average 40 points a game it won’t matter. He isolated himself from us. It doesn’t fly in Istanbul. No one really cares about him. There were hundreds of people who came to welcome his in the airport when he arrived, now there are empty seats, and it would be like that even if he was playing.”
…Iverson is all alone in the spot that will spring him to Springfield someday, under the free throw line and outside of the paint. Swish. But there is nothing familiar or sweet about this moment. Just a man who used to play in the Mount Everest of his profession and now is just playing on a hill, knowing that his Sisyphean effort is over, and from here one can only go down.