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December 06, 2001

Is Iverson crying wolf?
By Dan Patrick

Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson wasn't at all happy with his treatment by fans in Indiana.
When Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson returned fire to fans who were abusively heckling him in Indiana, his words were picked up by NBC's microphones and delivered into America's living room.

While not surprised that such a volatile personality as Iverson lost his cool, I found myself feeling that while his persecutors were just as wrong, Iverson may have brought a bit of this on himself. Was life imitating art?

Let's get one thing straight. I am disgusted by any use of the N-word.

I am even uncomfortable hearing black people use the term with each other, with no harm intended or felt. But I feel that black people have had a very hard time in this country -- and in some ways still do (understatement of the millennium, I know).

Rosa Parks is still alive, remember. She made headlines for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in 1955, which is not that long ago. The N-word is filled with hatred and is a symbol of the racism that still simmers in this country. I am not ready to hear that word ironically or in jest and would certainly never use it.

So the morons screaming it (and other gems like "crackhead") at Iverson should have been ejected. Your ticket does not allow you to be a barbarian.

Iverson even asked the refs to do something about the idiots. When the officials did nothing, Iverson broke down and sunk to their level.

Maybe the best thing that Iverson can take from this incident is that he now has a fresh reminder of what it's like to be called a despicable, hateful name.

The trouble is that he is a bit familiar with that level.

I believe that Iverson's CD, now due in June, sets him up as a name-caller himself. His song "40 Bars" is filled with homophobic and misogynistic lyrics. So is Iverson crying wolf?

How can he complain about being called names when he calls names himself? Granted, his lyrics are not aimed at an individual. But let's not quibble. Iverson was the victim of serious verbal abuse, but my sympathy was leavened by the fact that he has done the same thing himself.

Maybe the best thing that Iverson can take from this incident is that he now has a fresh reminder of what it's like to be called a despicable, hateful name.

On the court that day, he was in the shoes of the people who objected to "40 Bars." And he didn't like it. Let's see if he takes this chance to grow.

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Iverson says verbal abuse from fans prompted slur

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NBC's Mike Breen explains the scene in Indiana where the Allen Iverson cursing incident occurred.
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Billy King says that Allen Iverson did not intend to hurt anyone with his remarks.
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NBA legend Charles Barkley doesn't think it's right that fans swear at players.
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