Allen Iverson looks off into the distance (Gary Dineen/Getty).
NBA legend Allen Iverson is in the middle of considerable financial disaster right now, currently holding such little cash that a judge has ordered his wages garnished to pay back a jewelry debt of more than $850,000. The guy needs money as fast as possible, and for Iverson that means getting a basketball job. Yahoo!'s own Adrian Wojnarowski reported two weeks ago that Iverson has an offer to play in Puerto Rico, and Chris Broussard of ESPN.com cites sources claiming he'd spend some time in the D-League if it meant a chance at an NBA....
Iverson is clearly looking for an answer (pardon the pun) to both his financial woes and diminished standing in the sporting world. And while desperate times call for desperate measures, some offers are just too ridiculous to consider. For instance, an indoor soccer club has now extended a not-insubstantial offer to Iverson. Here's the official press release from the Rochester Lancers (via EOB):
The Rochester Lancers, of the MISL's top level of pro indoor soccer, today announced a contract offer to former NBA star, Allen Iverson.
The Rochester Lancers host two remaining regular season home games to conclude their season. The offer stands at $20,000 per game, with a bonus of $5,000 per goal scored, win bonuses, and merchandise bonuses. There are over 12 goals scored on average per game.
"Allen Iverson is one of the premier athletes of our time," said Rich Randall, Vice President of the Rochester Lancers. "With his athleticism and competitive hunger, I think he can be a great fit with our team and fans as we make an important playoff push, while also driving interest to an exciting, growing sport."
If accepted, the Lancers have also offered to host his friends and family through the duration of his stay. With the per-game pay and bonuses, this offer will come close to the offer (per game) set by Turkish basketball team, Besiktas and ultimately keeping him the United States.
It's hard not to be a little curious about Iverson as a soccer player. For years, observers have speculated that, based on his elite quickness and toughness, he could have been one of the best soccer players of all time if he'd devoted himself to it from birth in the manner of athletes in other parts of the world.
Still, let's call this offer what it is: a publicity grab by a team in a minor sports league looking to get as much attention as possible. There's no way they can expect Iverson to take this deal. Disregard all the talk about helping Iverson stay in the United States or hosting his friends — the Lancers are exploiting a great athlete's name recognition and dire circumstances in the hope of getting some extra money.
Iverson is far from a perfect person, and any consideration of his financial situation has to consider that he frittered away more than $150 million in salary (and more in endorsements) over the course of his NBA career. Yet there's a difference between giving a thorough explanation for why someone's in trouble and reveling in that misfortune. Love him or hate him, Iverson is one of the most important athletes of the past 25 years. It's genuinely sad to see someone who once held so much sway over the NBA reduced to a punchline. It's fine not to feel compassion for him. But, at the very least, please don't treat him like an object of derision. He deserves better than that.