Allen Iverson made a lot of mistakes. Some were his fault, some weren't mistakes at all, and he had to go through the scrutiny for them - the tattoos, outfits, and most of all, wearing his heart on his sleeve. AI could've made a lot of things easier on himself if he were more political in his answers and public image.
But for Iverson, it was a matter of principle. He is who he is, and AI felt as if he shouldn't hide it to be considered a good basketball player. Still, Iverson understood the cost he paid because of it. That's why his advice to LeBron when he was entering the league was - do as I say, not as I do.
Learn from what I did wrong. Learn from all the stuff you've seen Allen Iverson do wrong that rubbed everybody the wrong way. If you don't want to go through what I go through right now, as far as being the bad guy in the NBA and all that. Be fake then; that's what I'm telling you. Be fake.
Allen Iverson, ESPN
Look, I've mentioned LeBron carefully controlling his image and called him out on "I want my damn respect" and similar ridiculous things he said. LeBron is widely considered to be one of the greatest players ever and gets a lot of respect and appreciation. Implying he's not getting enough respect is absurd.
But when you take into account what the league looked like when Lebron arrived and how the fans and media treated him after The Decision, can you blame the guy going down that path of total image control? Iverson may wish he had that control, but for him, authenticity is non-negotiable.
Speaking of the Decision, AI predicted it. When LeBron, Dwade, and Carmelo would reach out to him, he told them in simple terms - the love isn't forever.
I always let LeBron know, 'They love you right now, but please, believe me, the first incident, the first time something happens, they are waiting, man.'
Allen Iverson, ESPN
LeBron mishandled The Decision, but the treatment he got was 100% out of line and over the top. (The Comic Sans letter didn't help, btw) So the next time you think LeBron is being fake, know that he's taking Iverson's advice on that one.