In the new book “Not a Game,” author Kent Babb explores the former NBA all-star’s transition from a talented, controversial athlete who earned nearly $21 million playing for the Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons during the 2008-09 season to a guy who eventually spent much of that in addition to his $155 million fortune.
According to Babb, Iverson Iverson’s penchant for spending and living beyond his means over the years resulted in him going broke. Nevertheless, he tried to keep his broke status a secret from his then-wife Tawanna, who discovered Iverson’s secret after she caught him calling friends to ask them to lend him money.
Iverson’s situation is the latest in a long line of similar circumstances experienced by many athletes who adapt a lavish lifestyle after coming from humble beginnings, Babb wrote in an excerpt from “Not a Game” that appeared in the New York Daily News.
“He had a $4.5 million gated estate in northwest Atlanta that spanned nearly 10,000 square feet, had a massive bar and a gourmet kitchen, and rain gutters made from pure copper,” Babb mentioned while pointing out Iverson’s like of chain restaurants and expensive jewelry as well as “first-day friends” who had “always believed in him.”
“But heavy spending is coupled with a lack of financial literacy and sound money management advisors. Iverson’s wife, for instance, paid insurance on 14 cars — five of which belonged to Iverson, two to herself, and the rest to friends and family members whom Iverson supported. Each month $12,000 in car insurance was billed to Tawanna’s AmEx. She also paid for a $25,000 gambling debt Iverson never paid to Caesars Palace, $50,000 to reimburse the family’s personal assistant, and tens of thousands each month to cover Iverson’s security detail and the family’s household staff.
“By 2011, NBA teams weren’t interested in Iverson,” Babb continued. “Relying on an annual $800,000 payment from Reebok as part of his lifetime contract with the shoe manufacturer, most of that would pay bills that had piled up during the year. Ultimately, the pair divorced and in a 2012 hearing, Iverson would say that he didn’t ‘even have money for a cheeseburger.’ Tawanna opened her wallet, and handed him $61.
Iverson’s downfall continued with the foreclosure of his home in February 2013 as well as a for $895,000 judgment in jewelry “that he just didn’t pay for.” Yet for all of this and defaulted payments for a Mercedes-Benz, the athlete continued to party “like he was a superstar” as he found himself moving into a hotel in Charlotte, NC after the foreclosure of his property.
“Not a Game” is among a string of recent biographies to highlight Iverson. The ex-basketball standout’s career and pop culture impact were explored in the Showtime documentary “Iverson..”
“Not a Game will be released June 2.