Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nice to Meet You #16 - Allen Iverson

We went to a lot of cool parties during All-Star Weekend this past February, many of which served an open bar with tons of celebrities and athletes wandering around to brush elbows with, but only one of these parties was, well… the only word to describe it is “weird.”

The normal parties were what you’d expect—florescent lights, thunderous music, pools lined with tiki torches, guys in sport coats with gelled hair, groupies wearing clothes that could technically be classified as lingerie. But most importantly what these parties shared was a general sense of togetherness, entertainment, and flat-out good-spirited fun. Business like T-Mobile or Sprite or whomever would pay big bucks to make sure people had a good time, and occasionally you’d run into somebody cool, have a good laugh, and continue on with your evening.

Allen Iverson’s Reebok party, though, was not like the others. Not even a little bit.

Okay, so the beer was free and there was thunderous music, but the fun, the harmony, the brushing elbows—none of that happened here.

Pushing our way through the throngs at the bar en route to the dance floor, we quickly located Allen Iverson, but other than Larry Hughes we didn’t really see anybody else of note. We thought we’d go over and say hi, but as we approached, a couple of bouncers (who reminded me of Dot-Com and Grizz from “30 Rock”) let us know that this particular section of the party was off-limits.

We looked around, noticing that the entire dance floor area was divided in two by a long, undulating white sofa. On our side was an interesting combination of losers (including, of course, ourselves)—wannabe gangsters, average-to-unattractive ladies, and white partyboys looking for a good-looking girl to grind up against. On Iverson’s side stood Iverson, Hughes, a couple of dudes from each guys’ posse, and what looked to be the scantily-clad cast reunion from all of Jay-Z’s music videos.

I literally felt segregated, like when Chuck Berry got hot in the 50s and the concert crowd were cut in half, separated by cops, to keep the whites from the blacks. Only this wasn’t a racial thing. It was more like, those worthy versus those not worthy.

The truly strange thing was when Iverson, for seemingly no reason whatsoever, stood atop the dividing couch, right in the center of the room, and just stood there drinking his drink. Those average-to-unattractive ladies I mentioned earlier flocked to that zone of the couch and sort of did a reach-up thing like they were teeny-boppers in the front row of a Backstreet Boys concert. My two colleagues and I looked at each other after about fifteen minutes of trying to enjoy ourselves and left.

It was weird.

For all his talent, Iverson just isn’t the coolest dude I’ve ever met. I’m positive it wouldn’t hurt his feelings to hear me say this, but it’s simply the truth. But I come from a different world than he does, I suppose. We’re not supposed to get along. It’s the classic Romeo & Juliet plotline. Boy meets basketball star, but because of differing lifestyles they can never be friends. I think this ends with me either drinking poison or stabbing myself in the chest with a rapier. Either way, it would show A.I. my commitment to being let onto his side of the dance floor.

But who am I kidding? It was just one party, and my experiences at literally every other gathering that weekend were 100% positive. So one of them was weird? I’ll live. Unless, you know, I have to do the poison thing.

But otherwise, I’ll live.

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