Commentary

Iverson needs a place to land

Originally Published: March 11, 2010
By Scoop Jackson | ESPN.com

Allen IversonAP Photo/Evan VucciWhat does the future hold for Allen Iverson? His close friends need to step in and help.

What makes the book "Push" (on which the Academy Award-nominated film "Precious" was based) so hard to read was not the fact that all those things happened to the main character, but that they happened (it seemed) all at once. The unthinkable incidents were never-ending. It seemed with every turn of the page, Precious' life just got worse -- then worse.

At some point you begin to believe, "This can't be real, because all this can't actually happen to one person." At some point it becomes too much to endure, and the weight of it all forces you to put the book down. Sadness overtakes you. You just can't take it anymore.

This is where it seems Allen Iverson is right now. If this were a book or a screenplay, you'd be forced to believe this couldn't all be happening to one person at once, then detach yourself from it. The sadness is too much to take.

But this isn't fiction. This is not "The Life and Times of Bubba Chuck." This is this man's life. Real life. No awards will be collected at the end.

And it has to feel like the end to Iverson. Although he sounds like "Iverson" in his tweets (From March 8: "You all know that my life isn't perfect. I am going through some very tough times right now, like I am sure that we all do from time to time. However, I will stand tall like always with 'rhino' thick skin. Even though I have become used to hearing people say things about me that aren't true, it still hurts. I encourage you to continue your ongoing support and I want you to trust that this is another obstacle in my life that, with God's help I will overcome."), the laws of human reality tell us any human being that's had all Iverson has recently had come down on him is going to die trying to survive … or just barely survive.

Allen Iverson and Tawanna Turner
AP Photo/Myron T. MillerIn happier times, Allen Iverson walks with his wife Tawanna.

We've been told we should pray. Pray for him at this time because he is in deep trouble and is about to disintegrate.

A daughter's severe and undetermined illness. The abrupt end of a career. A wife filing for divorce. Public disclosure of drinking and gambling. Alone has never been this solitary.

Concern grows. Carmelo Anthony said he didn't "want to see nobody go through what [Iverson's] going through. … Having to deal with family issues is one thing, but having to deal with all the other stuff that is going on. … Nobody wants to deal with that stuff. … I wish he could just deal with his family issues, and then that would be it." John Chaney called Iverson's life right now a "train wreck," and felt that coach John Thompson was the only one that might "wrap his arms around Iverson and have an impact." (Actually, Larry Brown could probably do the same.) Even Stephen A. Smith, who wrote the column that was the straw that ruptured the camel's spleen, said during several television appearances that he's tried to reach out. But is anything really being done? Is anyone really going to Iverson's rescue? Am I?

Because when looked at collectively it is easy to see how the combination of incidents compiled one after the other could be overwhelming to anyone. Which is the sole reason I place it in the same context as "Push." But will it lead to the hopeless end that seems to be the next (final?) chapter in Iverson's life story?

The fear is that Iverson could head in the same nonfictional direction as Stephon Marbury or, worse, Maurice Clarett. That everything that had meaning to him leaving or being taken away from him will lead to an ending not even Sapphire could imagine. But in this reality the support system does not exist.

What he's going through is enough to break even the strongest of men. A few weeks ago, when he came back to the Sixers after missing five games while dealing with his 4-year-old daughter's illness, he admitted: "I like to look at myself as a strong person, especially dealing with everything in my life. But this is a totally different situation; you find out you're not as tough as you thought you were when it's one of your kids. All I do is just pray on it." And that was before the team said they would finish the season without him, before his wife officially filed for divorce, before his apparent issues with gambling and drinking were made public.

My faith in him leads me to believe he'll survive this the way he has everything in his life up to this point. But faith might not be enough this time. Iverson needs to know who loves him. He needs to know (this personally from me) that no matter how bad it gets, I'm not going to put his "book" down. I can't allow it to get that sad or tragic.

If what is being reported is correct, Iverson needs a life preserver in the form of someone that loves him. He needs more than a friend: He needs a place to land, he needs a foundation, he needs something to go right in his life to balance the hell that it's become in the past six weeks.

He just needs that so he can push forward.

Scoop Jackson is a columnist for ESPN.com.

MORE COMMENTARY »

Scoop Jackson | email

ESPN.com columnist

ALSO SEE