Allen Iverson Is Broke: What His Sinking Fortunes Can Teach Us

Allen IversonAllen Iverson has been living larger than his game, and the high life is finally catching up to him.

A Georgia judge is having the former NBA star's bank account commandeered over an $860,000 debt to a jeweler that he can't pay.

Who runs up nearly a seven-figure tab at a jewelry store? The answer is The Answer.

When Good Bling Goes Bad

Iverson is hardly first celebrity athlete to burn through all of his dough. Boxer Mike Tyson and baseball legend Lenny Dykstra filed for bankruptcy. Scottie Pippen's poor business decisions and golfer John Daly's gambling ways emptied out their coffers. (For more tales in that vein, check out Broke Stars: 11 Celebrities Who Went Bankrupt.)

However, it may be hard to top the mountain of money that Iverson squandered -- and the extravagant ways in which it went up in flames.

The free-shooting Philadelphia 76er amassed more than $154 million from his NBA salary alone. Throw in his Reebok shoe deal, smaller endorsements, business deals, and other opportunities to cash in on his fame, and you have an impressive nine-figure empire -- but one that quickly disintegrated to less than zero.

Hard to imagine, perhaps, but it's easy to explain when you realize that Iverson broke the cardinal rule of budgeting: Never live beyond your means.

We Should've Seen This Coming

There were already signs that Iverson was in over his head financially in 2010. He had just left the 76ers after a brief return to his original team. When he wanted to get back in the game, no NBA teams were interested in his seemingly diminished talents.

"It's not about money or anything like that," he told reporters before heading off to play basketball in Turkey later that year. It probably was.

"The 76ers' former all-everything guard is broke -- by all accounts except his own," wrote Philadelphia Inquirer beat reporter Kate Fagan as she flew into Istanbul to check in on Iverson's new gig, playing home games in an arena with room for just 3,200 fans.

Allen Iverson

In their prime, some athletes believe that fame will last forever. They don't seem to realize that there aren't enough sports broadcasting jobs for all retired the superstars. They don't think about how endorsements will dry up after they're through lighting up the scoreboard.

In the end, there's no such thing as making too much money if your financial planning amounts to an air ball at the buzzer. There's also no such thing as making too little money -- within reason -- if you're smart enough to budget accordingly.

The Sting of Skipping Practice

One of Iverson's most colorful moments came after his team was bounced out of the playoffs in 2002. His coach criticized A.I.'s tendency to miss team practices.

"We're sitting here -- I'm supposed to be the franchise player -- and we're in here talking about practice," Iverson began in a rant that went viral. "We're not even talking about the game, when it actually matters. We're talking about practice."

Iverson did practice. All NBA players practice hard while they are in their prime. (How else can they stay that way?) However, mocking the value of practice was perhaps a cruel case of foreshadowing the fate that would befall him a decade later.

Basketball players repeat the basics -- over and over -- even after they become second nature. If Iverson had practiced the adage of living beneath his means, he certainly wouldn't be in the predicament he finds himself in today with his bank account seized and any future wages garnished.

Iverson had it wrong. Practice matters. Practice is as important as the game itself.


Iverson had every right to live a rich life. His entourage often numbered in the dozens. When you're making millions a year, no one is going to tell you that you can't spring for bottle service at a nightclub's VIP room or take the buddies out to throw money around at a casino where the odds are always stacked in the house's favor.

No one tells a multimillionaire that he can't buy fine jewelry for his wife, family, and friends, and friends of friends.

The problems arise after the lifestyle they grow accustomed to ceases to be financially feasible. When you buy a mansion -- or several opulent pads -- no one reminds you that each of those properties will cost a fortune to maintain and that property taxes are based on their outrageous market values.

Should I save money? Invest money? Realize that a childhood friend may not be the best source for sound business advice? These questions don't seem to require answers when the money's rolling in. Traveling to road games with a personal hairstylist -- as Iverson reportedly did -- doesn't seem so outrageous when you're the NBA's scoring leader.
Then the buckets -- and the buckets of money -- stop coming.

Fact is, living beneath your means isn't enough. You have to live beneath your future means -- and save enough along the way so that those $860,000 checks to the jeweler don't bounce.

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Louis Adair-Robinson


April 14 2012 at 6:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No one ever told AI this...

March 01 2012 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hope he enjoyed it.

Hey, he is college man. He can go out and get a regular job like the rest of us.

i am sure that phase of his life was fun, now on to the rest of his life.

March 01 2012 at 10:43 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wdcarterjr's comment

Yes! Grow up! Get a real job!

March 07 2012 at 2:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You may want to make a change to your current life even it is not bad. Many people want to have another new found, ----sugardadmeet dot 'c 'o 'm, it's a wonderful site for casual dating and nsa fun. you can always find the right one to spend the special night with. it’s worth a try!

February 29 2012 at 3:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This would be a good lesson to be taught to students who want to grow up and be just like Allen Iverson.
Every poor, African American, living in the slums dream of becoming a big super star sports player (or ghetto rapper).

Kids need to understand how slim the chances are of making it that way and how much more important it is that they work hard in the classroom to get a good education. Smarts will last forever....physical ability won't.

Spend more time reading then playing basket ball.

February 24 2012 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Louis Adair-Robinson

Don't kick the man when he is want to help him out? give 1dallor and tell your friends to past it own and then show him how to keep his money and invest. I thought this is American where you help one another when in trouble...but i guess it is eazy to just kick'em when their down...i can hear it now "didn'T no one do it for me, so why should i do it for some one else" BE BLESS MY PEOPLE.

February 20 2012 at 8:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

He was a fool, there are plenty of college educated fools. Had he stayed in school another 2 years it would have made not difference. I don't fell sorry for him, had he understood tattooes, jewelry and cars don't main much less create worth he may not be broke today. Had he understood that he can't take care of everyone that he may have encountered as a young man, then maybe he would not be broke. Had he understood you can't sleep with every good looking person that crosses your path maybe he would not be broke today. I don't say this be I am racist, I am black in fact I am from the Tidewater area (Chesapeake, VA). Tidewater has more than its share of dumb-azzes.

February 20 2012 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

haha, typical !!!

February 20 2012 at 7:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


February 19 2012 at 9:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well he now has the practical real-life experience to be a congressman.

February 19 2012 at 5:07 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply