Report: Iverson facing trouble

Updated: March 9, 2010, 8:32 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Multiple NBA sources say Allen Iverson is facing alcohol and gambling issues that have derailed his career and threaten his post-basketball well-being, Stephen A. Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported in a column published Monday.

[+] EnlargeAllen Iverson
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesAllen Iverson played only 25 games for the 76ers before stepping away for the season.

According to multiple NBA sources, there is widespread concern that the four-time NBA scoring champion, who left the Philadelphia 76ers in late February to deal with his daughter's illness and will not return this season, "will either drink himself into oblivion or gamble his life away," Smith reported.

Iverson's gambling problem is serious enough that he has been banished from casinos in Detroit and Atlantic City, N.J., according to Smith.

The report comes as Iverson is dealing with significant personal problems. He posted four messages Monday night on his Twitter account, acknowledging he was going through "some very tough times."

"To my fans: 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," Iverson wrote. "However, I will stand tall like always with 'rhino' thick skin."

Iverson's wife, Tawana, filed for divorce March 4, the same day the 76ers announced the All-Star guard would not return for the rest of the season. In the divorce filing, made in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta, Tawana Iverson said the couple's 8½-year marriage is "irretrievably broken" and sought full custody of the family's five children, child support and alimony.

Iverson, who played 25 games for the Sixers this season, returned to Atlanta in February to be with his family and deal with an undisclosed illness affecting his 4-year-old daughter, Messiah.

Smith, who has covered Iverson closely for years, wrote in Monday's column that Iverson needs someone with "the ideal combination of compassion and toughness" in his life.

And former Temple coach John Chaney said that person is John Thompson, Iverson's former college coach at Georgetown.

"[Thompson] is the one guy who'll have a chance of slowing this train wreck down, who could wrap his arms around Iverson and have an impact, because clearly it has not been done," Chaney said, according to Smith. "But there's still this one question: Will [Iverson] listen?"

Allen Iverson said on Twitter it hurt to hear stories about his personal life that he says aren't true.

"Even though I have become used to hearing people say things about me that aren't true, it still hurts," Iverson wrote. "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."

Iverson started the season with the Memphis Grizzlies but only played three games, amid disagreements over playing time, before announcing a short-lived retirement.

He signed with the 76ers as a free agent in December, making a tearful return to the city where he spent his first 10½ seasons, won four scoring titles, earned the 2000-01 MVP award and led the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals.

Iverson was traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2006 and played for the Nuggets through 2008, when he was dealt to the Detroit Pistons.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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