cover image Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson

Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson

Kent Babb. Atria , $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4767-3765-2

Babb, a Washington Post writer who profiled Allen Iverson's troubled life after basketball in 2013, extends his work into a sobering biography of the ex-NBA superstar. Iverson (who didn't participate in the book) took to basketball in Hampton, Va., where drugs and familial instability were the norm. He was given a five-year prison sentence for his role in a 1993 bowling alley brawl, but dodged it via gubernatorial clemency. The undersized guard's blinding talent won him special treatment from coaches, superiors, and other authorities, which paved the way for Iverson to live an undisciplined professional and personal life. According to Babb, he abhorred practice and workouts; he neglected his wife, Tawanna, and their kids for a hedonistic lifestyle; and while Iverson's anti-authority stance was a marketer's dream, his ego kept getting in the way. What steers Babb's work away from being a book-length condemnation is that he refuses to simplify Iverson, showing a man devoted to his childhood friends and a player whose passion endeared him to reporters, coaches, and teammates. Relying on research and outside interviews to shape his narrative, Babb delves deep into Iverson's inscrutable soul. This is a sad but fascinating read. Photos not seen by PW. (June)