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Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson Hardcover – June 2, 2015

4.4 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A searingly honest and intimate portrait of a captivating icon, but also a cautionary tale for any young star. Kent Babb captures the complexity of Allen Iverson from all angles in a fascinating must-read for all sports fans." (Baxter Holmes, ESPN NBA reporter)

“Allen Iverson was impossible to ignore, a one man hurricane, on the court and off; equal parts dynamic and depressing. With Not a Game Kent Babb brilliantly tells his story and it's a tour de force like AI himself.” (Dan Wetzel, National Columnist, Yahoo Sports and New York Times bestselling author)

“Babb’s thorough storytelling empathetically ebbs and flows between Iverson’s trials and triumphs, connecting the dots while taking the reader on an emotional truth-seeking ride of nostalgia, hope, and exasperation . . . . Not a Game is engrossing and definitely to be read and discussed.” (Shana Renee Stephenson, founder and editor-in-chief, AllSportsEverything.com)

“Allen Iverson’s is a life unfathomable to most. With Not a Game, Kent Babb questions the enigma that is The Answer, taking readers into a world most don’t know — and, quite frankly, most don’t want to know — exists in America.” (John Valenti, Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and author of Swee’pea, the story of New York City basketball legend Lloyd Daniels)

"For better or worse, Allen Iverson has the uncompromising "my way" persona. Kent Babb eloquently, and at times poignantly, captures Iverson's swagger—raw and flawed, regal yet real." (Benjamin Hochman, sports columnist, The Denver Post)

“This is more than just great sports writing, this is writing at its best. Babb strips away the public persona of iconic superstar Allen Iverson to tell a stunning story of triumph, tribulation and ultimate tragedy. It’s a must-read about a complex hero who had it all for too short a time.” (R.G. Belsky, author of The Kennedy Connection and The Midnight Hour)

"Babb delves deep into Iverson’s inscrutable soul. This is a sad but fascinating read.” (Publishers Weekly)

“It pricks the skin and provokes a response.” (The Washington Post)

About the Author

Kent Babb is a Sports Enterprise Writer at The Washington Post, which he joined in October 2012. His work was included in the 2013 edition of The Best American Sports Writing, and his long-form journalism has been honored eight times by the Associated Press Sports Editors, including first place in feature writing in 2005 and 2010.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books (June 2, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476737657
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476737652
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When this book came out in early June, it received lots of press in the Philadelphia media for the chapter discussing Allen Iverson's famous practice rant. In a larger sense, though, Kent Babb's searing biography of Iverson paints an ugly picture of the player as a mean drunk with a severe alcohol problem. Iverson burned through $150 million in his career and still drinks Coronas to excess nearly every day of his life at T.G.I. Fridays and P.F. Changs because that is "exotic" beer to him.

The book felt like a combination of Mickey Mantle meets Mike Tyson. Like Mantle, Iverson was a Hall of Fame player in his sport, yet he remains an undependable alcoholic whose greatness could have been even more amazing. Like Tyson, Iverson burned through a staggering amount of wealth while being bled dry by moochers and hangers on.

The book does include somewhat shocking stories of a destitute Iverson calling up ex teammates and asking to borrow money by 2011 and violent fights with his wife, Tawanna, that included chasing her around Philadelphia with a gun and vowing to either "...die or I'm going to jail. And I guarantee you I'm not going to die." But it is the "We talkin' 'bout practice" rant that is seemingly the most fascinating part of the book.

I am a huge fan of playing low-level poker, and Atlantic City was where I first heard that the genesis for the practice rant was that Iverson was an alcoholic who would keep vampire hours and frequently drink to excess in A.C. until 8-9 a.m., then be unable to make practice a few hours later. The Babb book confirms that Iverson was drunk during the rant. It blows my mind that a guy could miss 70 practices in one year.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A powerful book. Especially as a father and husband, who grew up during Iverson's hay day. Some parts of the book hit home for me on a personal level. While it's about basketball, it should be mandatory reading for any sports fan. Babb's writing style is gripping, but you can tell he knows when to let a story tell itself. That Iverson did not have any personal input on this book (despite Babb giving him the opportunity) is not a negative; rather, it is a reflection on the person and only adds another layer to this impeccably researched bio. I definitely will be ordering a few more copies for family and friends.
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By C. A. Varipapa on September 18, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am by no means a sports aficionado but I can't put this book down. A.I. had an amazing rise to fame and fortune, as amazing as his fall. I found myself cheering for him, angry at him, disappointed in him. A great read about a persons life that could be an amazing movie. Bravo!
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Format: Hardcover
Besides the pre and post-game interviews; the magazine covers and sneaker endorsements; the debates that consumed gym periods and barbershop visits; besides playing Live--when it was good--and 2K into the twilight hours of the night, it never occurred to me that the players I watched--crossing over, stepping back, pulling up and taking off--were actually people. This may strike some of you as absurd: "Well of course they're people, they don't just play basketball all day." While this is undoubtedly true--that athletes are undoubtedly human--what's also true is that we seldom reckon with the humanity of athletes until they lose. By lose, I don't mean the sacrifices these players make and the inevitable loss that goes with it; I mean the collateral damage we feel when we can no longer use them for our own ends. It isn't until their ratings in 2K drop, or they're battling injury after injury, or their bank accounts are depleted, or they've falling deeper and deeper into the abyss of the depth chart, or found unconscious on the floor of a Nevada brothel that we realize that these players have interior lives that continue long after the last buzzer. Kent Babb's Not a Game is a critical investigation into the other 22 hours of a life more complex than cornrows, crossovers and diatribes about practice. "In the late 90s, America was undergoing an interesting cultural shift. It's heroes were no longer who wore ties and obeyed the rules." With so many questions about how rebellion would look and live in this generation, Allen Iverson provided himself as the "Answer," refusing to back down from any defender, double-team or NBA legend.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a basketball fanatic and Iverson is an iconic performer. Additionally, I live in Memphis and we signed him late in his career and he lasted only two months and tore the team and coach apart. Not to mention the stories I heard about problems at his hotel with SERIOUS marijuana smoking. NOTHING IN THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE YOUR MIND! It's a sad story. His early incarceration (not warranted IMO), his Georgetown career, his pro career, and his drinking and bad habits that traumatizes his family. This is very sad and frankly, entirely too long. I cannot rate this book highly as there are no new stories here and it is told slowly and not worth the time. I would pass. You know the story already.
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