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I do not like him but he's got game!

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com

Southampton, PA (Sports Network) -- He plays the game like a water bug in heat and moves around the redwoods camped under the basket like a squirrel trying to escape a ravenous fox. When he is hot he can light up the scoreboard faster than a bolt of electricity and when he's not he still performs better than most. But, I cannot bring myself to like him.

He has more tattoos than spots on a leopard, an IQ that is not as high as his scoring average and makes rap records when he ought to be practicing his three point shot. That does not interfere with his game, as he leads the league in scoring, but they are not reasons why I do not like him.

In a sport where role models are a thing of the past he is being idolized by an emulating youth for whom he is anything but a standard bearer. Why? Because he does have game. He can do tricks with a basketball and introduce it to the nets more often than a politician shaking hands on the trail of votes.

His hair-dos will never make the cover of GQ and they are as defiant as his attitude towards competing players. But he does merit All-Star status, MVP of the All-Star game, leading scorer in the league and he does have game. That does not mean I have to like him.

It is hard to believe that he took real courses and tests in college and was likely just another John Thompson product of the Georgetown machine that cared less about education than it did about W's and L's with many more of the latter. There's a point at which ghetto hardship wears thin and talent on the hardwood or floating above the rim has little to do with obtaining an education. It has more to do with filling the coffers of the coach at hand and serving as a stage for early entry into the NBA by the player who had no intention of receiving a diploma in the first place.

He has game, lots of it, but I do not have to like him or feel sorry for him.

Allen Iverson has been touted as the best little man of his size to come along. Maybe, but likely not. And, what is his size? With all the game at his command, he can shoot the jumper as if it had eyes when he is on and he can dart between the legs of the giants patrolling the paint before they know he has come and gone. But, does he have the magic of a Bob Cousy or the range of shots? For those of you that never saw "the Cooz" play, no. Does he rank with Pete Maravich as an all around guard? Pistol Pete forgot about more than Iverson can put on display right now. We will leave out Magic Johnson at 6' 9" or a Larry Bird that went, as did Magic, guard or forward or whatever they were called upon to do. Even Dick Maguire of the old Knicks, more of Iverson's size, could do more with the ball.

Wayne Gretzky Gretzky dominated his profession during his NHL career
It is so easy to be called the best these days. Everyone is. Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky, Dan Marino, Pele and countless others. Until someone else comes along. Pretty soon we run out of "bests" and it is just a matter of what is in vogue, or who is in vogue, at that particular moment in time. The best team ever to play in the NBA would have 25-30 players on it that could start, except for Michael who would be a staple. Ditto baseball, except for Ruth, Mays or Mantle. Hockey the same other than the great one.

The leader of the 76ers does not want too much competition and when he is not playing, they are not winning. It only lends to the legend and you can bet that he loves it. Another great player on this team, precisely what they need to win the championship, is not about to happen. He will not allow that. Another reason I do not like him. Not because his absence makes the heart grow fonder for his presence if you are a Philadelphia fan but because he will not tolerate intrusion upon his domain.

He's got game but not all of it. He is not a great passer. He's got enough game to be a franchise leader but he does not have as wide an assortment of shots as his team would have you believe. He has enough game in him to take his team to the playoffs but I do not have to like his attitude about the game or life on and off the court.

What do I really know about Allen Iverson? We have never sat down for a conversation, broken bread or gone to the flicks together. And none of those are likely to occur within the near or distant future. But, what I do know and see, I do not like. His game? He's got it. Enough to fill the First Union Center in South Philly.

Do you have to like someone to appreciate their talent? Nope. Do you have to like them to root for the team in your current hometown? Nope. Need they take an intelligence test to prove that they have earned their place on the planet? Nope once again. And, does their game overcome all of their transgressions, arrogance, IQ deficiencies, hairstyles, tattoos, body piercing and rap records insulting the rest of us? Hey, this is America. Of course it does and we forgive our athletes faster than it takes falling rain to hit the sidewalk and bounce into a waiting puddle.

I liked Magic, Larry, Kareem, Dr. J, Michael and can like Kobe, Shaq, Scottie, David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Grant Hill and a host of others but I cannot bring myself to like Allen Iverson. But, does he have game? More than enough. Enough to have him up there as a role model for more than what he can do with the ball? You gotta be kidding!