I KNOW I WASN'T the only one crying during Allen Iverson's news conference last week. The bad boy of basketball suddenly seemed more like the rest of us: human.
Like many Philly fans, I loved watching him play amazing basketball for the 76ers for a decade, until they parted ways in 2006, and I look forward to him playing gloriously again now that he's back in Philly - I hope for the remainder of this season and more.
I disagree with critics who say that, at 34, he's all washed up and unable to score the way he once did. Being an eternal optimist, I tend to root for the underdog.
Iverson is certainly that. He is not the strongest, the fastest or the tallest. But the 6-foot-tall, 165-pound guard is all heart, scruffy and with enough swagger to conquer the universe.
And then some.
The reason The Answer has struggled in recent years has had little to do with his performance on the court. It's been his off-court antics more than anything that have stymied his career. His "me, myself and I" attitude, refusal to attend practice and efforts to hold on to his thug street credibility have cost him.
Like many talented people, the 2001 MVP, onetime All-Star Game player and NBA scoring leader failed to recognize that there is no "I" in team, and that it takes more than talent to be successful.
As a result, his stints with the Denver Nuggets and, earlier this season, the Memphis Grizzlies, didn't go well.
Who knew The Answer would have so much in common with opera superstar Kathleen Battle, who lost a lucrative contract with the Met in 1994 due to her over-the-top diva antics.
Again and again, history has proven that the ability to get along is more important than being a superstar talent with too much 'tude, hubris and arrogance.
Many moons ago, my grandmother schooled me on this one: "You don't have to be the most talented, but you need to be easy to work with. People have got to like you, baby. Those are the ones who get and keep opportunities. Talented people with bad attitudes normally end up broke and broken."
Well, my grandmother ain't never lied.
Now that I'm good and grown, I have seen countless examples of her wisdom on this topic. Yes, talent matters and experience matters, but attitude trumps 'em all.
I hope Iverson has learned some life lessons, and last Thursday was not just some Academy Award-worthy performance.
I hope he has recognized and overcome some of his earlier obstacles and decided to be a valuable player on the team, as opposed to viewing himself as the team.
Allen, I hope with your return to the Sixers you will truly raise the bar and be an example to all the little black boys who look up to you for an example of what a hardworking, outstanding and successful African-American man should be.
To whom much is given, much is required. Now just do it!
Kimberly Garrison is a certified personal trainer and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia (www.1on1ultimatefitness.com). E-mail her at
email@example.com. Her column appears each Thursday in Yo!