AI: Artificial Intelligence

Watching in awe, the Answer has left me with a number of questions over the past week.

Allen Iverson spent much of yesterday in custody of the Philadelphia police department after turning himself in at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

He was processed, placed in a private cell, arraigned and then released, all on charges stemming from an alleged incident where he went looking for his wife in the apartment of relatives, with a loaded gun.

Iverson, arguably among the NBA's top three players, is now in jeopardy of spending up to 50 years in prison for the assortment of charges. However, lawyers quoted by believe it is unlikely that Iverson would serve jail time even if convicted.

Police retracted initial reports of blood in his Cadillac Escalade late yesterday after they determined that stains on the upholstery were not blood, but rather were likely juice stains given that Iverson's children frequently ride in the car.

Around the Georgetown campus - where I am living for the summer - the loyal fans of the ex-Hoya all scream police fabrication and media feeding frenzy, while the truth slips through the lane and is dropped into the basket of unfortunate reality, much like an Iverson fast break.

Regardless of whether or not the Philadelphia police are out to get Iverson, he has a track record of less than admirable conduct, and he should not be held up as a role model.

Here at Georgetown, legendary coach John Thompson gained a reputation for taking African American teens from backgrounds of poverty and turning them into players with great opportunity ahead of them. The likes of Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning came through the Georgetown campus and while Thompson's teams challenged for NCAA championships, his players also got world-class educations. Iverson is not of this mold.

Before matriculating at Georgetown, he had spent four months in Virginia prisons following a brawl at a bowling alley in 1993. While it is true that the event did pit white against black with only black being arrested at the end of the ordeal by white local police, and while his conviction was so suspect that he was pardoned by then Gov. Douglas Wilder, this is not a good sign. Neither is being arrested for possession of marijuana and a gun in his car in 1997.

Neither is it a good thing that youths around the country don jerseys of a man who refuses to practice (his jersey is the best seller in the country), records rap albums where he uses derogatory terms for women and homosexuals, and calls press conferences where he criticizes his teammates and asserts that he is the MVP even after getting beat in the first round of the playoffs.

I am sure that AI, as he likes to be called, has a very complicated life, and I am also sure that he is probably not as guilty as he seems, but still, I hope he is embarrassed by his behavior.

I hope he realizes how lucky he is to have three years and $40.5 million left on his contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, plus have a lifetime shoe contract with Reebok worth $5 million a year. It is true that if he is convicted, the current NBA collective bargaining agreement will not protect his salary. It is also true that there is frequent discussion in Philadelphia about trading AI. But somehow, none of that matters in the world of sports.

If the 76ers were to try to trade Iverson, they would find a suitor with no problem. If Iverson was jailed - which will never happen - salivating teams would greet him upon his release.

I have no problem with professional athletes making the type of money that they do. The way I figure it, teams make astronomical amounts of money by marketing their product, and I am more comfortable with large shares of money going to the players than I am with already rich investors and speculators running to the bank. If the 76ers make hundreds of millions, Iverson should get a lot of that - God knows he is what people pay to see.

But in the world where the rest of us reside, in the world where most people have to scrap and save to take their family to a NBA game, I just wish that Iverson would shut up, open his eyes to the bounty of good fortune before him, and stay out of our headlines unless he is dropping 50 on the Knicks.
Josh Fay-Hurvitz is a Columbia College senior majoring in political science and the 125th Sports Editor of the Columbia Daily Spectator.


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