"Don't Zap Me ! "

First there was the threat of a damaging TV investigation, then came explosive comments about the cops and finally an announcement that fueled the Olympic hopes of the city's biggest superstar. Just a typical week in the life of Allen Iverson.

By Brian Hickey
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Dec. 4, 2002

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Another highlight-reel performance had just ended, but Allen Iverson still had to plead his case.

His no-look passes landed precisely where he wanted them to. Jaw-dropping fade-away jumpers snapped the bottom of the net. His gnatlike defense allowed fans to get their hats and coats and leave before the backups touched up a surprisingly easy 21-point win over the formidable New Orleans Hornets.

In the locker room, Iverson's uniform was gone, replaced by a T-shirt, jeans and a Yankees cap turned ever so slightly to the left. As a couple of his teammates offered mostly cliches for the microphones, the embattled star was left to his own devices.

"Don't zap me!" he begged tiny E.J. Snow, son of teammate Eric Snow. Despite the plea for mercy, the youngster continued firing away with a weapon only he could see.

"I got you, Allen Iverson. I got you, Allen Iverson!" E.J. yelled before scampering back toward his father's locker.

With no more kid fun to have, Iverson ducked around the postgame-interview pack and hit teammate Aaron McKie up for some spray deodorant.

It was almost time for him to field questions. He would go to the same media room and sit in the same seat where his coach had said just minutes earlier, "I like seeing Allen elevate his game. It's just fun to be around."

Not that he'd heard his coach's upbeat words, though. He'd been too consumed by zap-gun fun to notice.

"I'm tougher than Allen Iverson! I'm tougher than Allen Iverson!" E.J. Snow declared as the target of his shenanigans fled the room for the obligatory postgame television cameras.

Seven days earlier Allen Iverson and his wife, Tawanna, sat down with a pair of local newspaper columnists to explain how they worried for their safety and yearned for privacy since their summer from hell.

The interviews created front-page news. The "live in fear" stories preceded national "I could be dead tomorrow" headlines, reenergizing Iverson supporters and critics alike.

Iverson responded to the controversy the best way he knows how. In the next four games, three of them wins, he dropped nearly 35 points a night and beefed up his rebounding, passing and steal statistics. For his efforts, he was named Eastern conference player of the week.

But that honor slipped under the radar when early word that Larry Brown would be named head coach of the 2004 Olympic team surfaced a week later. This could mean only good news to Iverson, who'd made it blatantly clear he'd like to play on an Olympic team.

"At the end of this whole thing, when all is said and done, we won a gold medal and a championship together?" Iverson said at his postgame press conference. "That's a great end to the story."

It was one of those rare weeks where the sports world seemed to revolve around Philadelphia.

Down goes McNabb and dreams of a Super Bowl and in comes Detmer.

Down go both Detmer in a nerve-curdling heap of pain and the San Francisco 49ers to an unexpectedly noble Eagles effort on Monday Night Football, and in comes talk of destined glory.

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