Recalling Allen Iverson’s short-lived musical career…


allen-iversonAllen Iverson may be remembered most for his skills on the court, but he also had a memorable foray into rap. Thirteen years after the release of his debut single, For The Win (USA Today) takes a look back at Iverson’s controversial music career.

Allen Iverson hasn’t played in the NBA since 2010, but only last week did he officially announce his retirement from professional basketball.

Iverson was one of the most talented scorers of his generation and will almost certainly be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the near future, but his career was flooded with controversy from the start.

One of his most fascinating off-the-court controversies has mostly fallen out of memory: his brief music career, which got press for all the wrong reasons.

The summer of 2000 saw the release of his debut single under his nom de rap “Jewelz.” “40 Bars” included violent, misogynistic and homophobic lyrics and turned the forthcoming release of his debut album, Non Fiction, into a lightning rod around the league, as he had been so many other times in his career.

Iverson was not without talent, but it’s easy to see why the NBA didn’t take kindly to the prospect of him launching a rap career with a single like “40 Bars.” According to those who heard the album, the rest of the content was no different.

“The lyrics that have been attributed to Allen Iverson’s soon-to-be-released rap CD are coarse, offensive, and anti-social,” NBA commissioner David Stern said at the time.

“Whatever constitutional rights of free speech an individual may have, there is no constitutional right to participate in the NBA and I have the power… to disqualify players who engage in offensive conduct — including inappropriate speech. Allen Iverson has done a disservice to himself, the Philadelphia 76ers, his teammates, and perhaps all of the NBA.”

Iverson met with Stern and various civil-rights leaders in October 2000, ahead of the planned 2001 release of the album, and agreed to change some of the more offensive lyrics. He also retitled the album Misunderstood and issued a boilerplate “I-apologize-if-you-were-offended” apology.

“If individuals of the gay community and women of the world are offended by any of the material in my upcoming album, let the record show that I wish to extend a profound apology,” Iverson said. ”If a kid thinks that I promote violence by the lyrics of my songs, I beg them not to buy it or listen to it. I want kids to dream and to develop new dreams.”

Whether the lyrics were actually toned down, we’ll never know. In October 2001, the album was scrapped. Iverson said he was burned out on the controversy surrounding the album, and no longer had the passion for recording music.

In 2010, an album called Misunderstood was released featuring Iverson on four tracks, but it has since been deleted from the iTunes store, just as Iverson’s foray into music has been deleted from our memories. In a career full of controversies, this was one of the more peculiar and ultimately destined to be forgotten.

Iverson had not played an NBA game since Feb. 20, 2010, in his second, short-lived stint with the Sixers. The 6-foot, 165-pound guard also played for Denver, Detroit and Memphis over a 14-year career that has him 19th on the career scoring list with 24,368 points. He also played in Turkey before realizing the NBA doors would not open for him again.

Iverson, spent 14 seasons in the NBA, and was a winner of both the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year honors. He is an 11-time all-star, and 4-time scoring champion.

Iverson took his team all the way to the NBA Finals in 2001 but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. Despite never winning a championship, Iverson was rated the fifth greatest NBA shooting guard of all time by ESPN in 2008.

Iverson played in 914 NBA games (901 started), and holds career average of 26.7 points per game, and 6.2 assists per game, with 41.1 minutes per game.

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