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For soap opera to end, Iverson must grow up

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Allen Iverson
Iverson
May 7
When is the soap opera going to end in Philadelphia? The Larry Brown-Allen Iverson saga gets tiring. We're talking about two major-league stars here -- one the Philadelphia 76ers coach, the other the team's star player. Brown is going to be in the Hall of Fame one day, and he is certainly deserving of that honor. Iverson has Hall of Fame ability. Pound for pound, he's the toughest athlete in the NBA.

It's getting sickening to hear about Iverson missing practice. Isn't it sad? Is it really asking too much of a player who makes millions of dollars to show up and be part of the team? Come on, Allen, it's time to grow up! You are a special player with all the talent in the world. You could be such a role model for young kids across America.

I know that kids would listen to what Iverson has to say. It's time for the young man to look in the mirror. Talent is not the issue, and he's one of the fiercest competitors I've ever seen. But it's sad to see his missed practices hurt his teammates and his team's long-term goals. It's a joke, my friends, plain and simple. If you want the respect of your teammates and of an organization, you show up and work hard. Sure, sometimes you're unable to practice due to injuries, but at least show up and support your teammates. Be a man.

What can be done? Let's be real ... the Sixers aren't going to trade Iverson. The city of Brotherly Love would go absolutely bananas! So when will Iverson listen to Brown? The coach isn't asking for too much. He wants his star to be the leader, to set the example. Even if Iverson doesn't want to be the leader, he must at least do things expected of any player -- and that leads to winning. The little things help build team chemistry, character and togetherness. That makes for an effective basketball team.

Is it really asking too much of a player who makes millions of dollars to show up for practice?
I don't blame Brown for getting fed up. Who needs all that tension? I can see him in this scenario: practice slated for 10 a.m., and it's 9:55. He's peeking at the clock, wondering, "Is Allen going to show? What am I going to say in front of the other players? Do I run him out of practice?"

Imagine if I went to broadcast a game, and a producer scheduled a meeting at 10 a.m. If I roll in at noon, how do you think the people working on that game would feel? There's nobody bigger than the organization or company. When everyone's on the same page, going in the same direction and working for a common goal, then there's a happy environment. In this case, the Sixers are trying to win an NBA championship, a goal they almost reached last year.

This is not Little League, this is the pros, baby! This is a million-dollar business. Iverson is a corporate giant, and he's sensational with the rock in his hands, but the bottom line is he's an immature first-grader in terms of his attitude toward his responsibilities.

Allen, it's time to grow up! You sit there at news conferences with your kids. People see the great love between you and your children, and it's beautiful to see. How would you react if your kids acted the way you have? Set an example and be a man. It's not all about the cash -- you can drive only one car a day, have three meals a day, put on one set of clothes. That can only take you so far ... and it's grow-up time in Philadelphia for Mr. Iverson.

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