By GLENN MINNIS
Allen Iverson would almost certainly tell you not to call it a comeback, though every fan of his that bleeds and prays for him hopes that it will indeed prove to be one.
The world of post-NBA superstardom has not been kind to the man known as The Answer, lowlighted by a bitter split from his wife and former high school sweetheart and the equally public breakup from a game he clearly was not ready to separate himself from.
But now there's talk of new beginnings, hope that A.I. might again be putting himself into a position of giving even more to the game he once revolutionized. Word is Iverson is set to travel to Manila later this year to take part in a series of events where organizers insist "we're introducing him as a coach."
Yeah, yeah, I know, the thought of The Answer being a coach might strike some as being as unlikely as others may find the prospect of him ever embracing the idea of practice. Still, you hope for the best, hope that this could be because so much of you wish such grace for Iverson.
"It's what he wants and he has a couple of schedules right now for basketball clinics," said Asia-based agent Sheryl Reyes, who adds the Philadelphia 76ers, the organization Iverson spent the bulk of his NBA career with, are not only on board with the endeavor but have quietly been grooming Iverson for coaching. "He's doing clinics for kids," that's already the direction he's going to so we want to support him."
By the time the 6-foot, 165 pound, top-pick in the 1996 NBA draft had hung up his Reeboks, he arguably had changed the game as much as anyone of his era. An 11-time All-Star, he was named league MVP in 2001 and led the league in scoring four different seasons, largely on the strength of a style built on grit and toughness that often found him going mano mano against the game's biggest bodies and talents.
A.I. was just riveting off the hardwood, almost overnight elevating himself to the status of icon within the hip hop community based on his style and personality.
And then, as quickly as A.I. had become accustomed to beating would-be-defenders off the bounce, it was all gone - much of the more than $200 million he grossed in NBA contracts and Reebok endorsement deals gone with it. With that, the man who teammate Aaron McKie was championed for giving "small people hope," shrank in ways not many of us could have ever foreseen.
But now lies a chance for redemption and a chance for Allen Iverson to make a comeback. In a statement, Iverson told the world "I'm looking forward to my coming visit to Manila. I've heard a lot of good stories about the Philippines, specifically about the Filipino basketball fans. See you all real soon."
Hoops Nation eagerly awaits.
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