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Only the Strong Survive: The Odyssey of Allen Iverson Paperback – October 21, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; Reprint edition (October 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060097744
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060097745
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like his subject, Platt is at his best while running the court, his prose smooth and economical as he describes Iverson's explosive, creative playing style. A longtime journalist whose sports writings have been collected in New Jack Jocks: Rebels, Race and the American Athlete, Platt writes with an authority that Iverson fans will appreciate. But the compelling rags-to-riches biography of the controversial NBA superstar is bogged down by Platt's repetitive, heavy-handed critiques of the relationship between black athletes, their marketers and the media. Platt repeatedly outlines how white middle class America is not yet ready for Iverson's hip-hop persona, which is "too in-your-face, too black"-a provocative yet unoriginal insight that quickly grows old. Intent on portraying Iverson as a misunderstood truant with a heart of gold, Platt misses the opportunity to create a thorough, insightful portrait. In doing so, he succumbs to the very weakness he criticizes in so many of his fellow journalists: losing the player to the hype. 16-page color insert with b&w photos throughout.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Diminutive basketball superstar Iverson is known around the NBA as "the Answer," but throughout his career, there have always been more questions than answers. His impoverished childhood in Newport News, Virginia, seemed destined to lead him nowhere. His mother was 15 when he was born, his biological father was incarcerated for most of Allen's childhood, his de facto father was a small-time drug dealer, and many of Allen's peers succumbed to street violence--eight were shot in one summer alone. But Iverson's incredible physical gifts and mental toughness pulled him through; he was named the NBA's most valuable player in 2000. Platt conducted dozens of interviews with Iverson and his family and friends to compile a portrait of a young man who celebrates his ghetto roots and refuses to eschew his childhood posse as he resists the NBA marketing machine's attempts to sanitize him for its primarily white fan base. This is a balanced, sympathetic portrait of a complex individual who has overcome a great deal but whose most significant struggles are yet to come. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

In this book Iverson has to defeat many obstacles to work his way to becoming the best.
This book was sent as a gift and the recipient was very pleased with it and expressed that he had read it daily since receiving it.
Wilma Brummitt
This book is not just about Allen Iverson and his trials and tribulastions its about inspiration.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. C. Russell on December 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As a young Caucasian man, I would never claim to understand Allen Iverson's meteoric rise from a dilapidated home in Newport News to the sparkling arenas of the NBA. Surely Iverson, his unique talent notwithstanding, has faced and cleared obstacles I cannot even fathom, obstacles to which so many have succumb. No, it is only those dominated by arrogance and pride who write off Allen Iverson as a thug, a threat, a disaster, a "them." Having read this book, though, I am content to trade whatever pride and arrogance I have for a new vision of Allen Iverson that transcends the "worst days" his critics are so quick to cite.
This book is looking for Iverson's core, digging deeper than Sportscenter highlight reels and police blotters. A careful reading reveals that there is more to Allen Iverson than cornrows, tattoos, snarls, and jumpers, even while each of these points to the man behind them. Indeed, if one wants to know anything of Allen Iverson, this book leaves you with one thought: no one loves like this man.
Iverson loves the game others claim he is destroying. Only love could score 20 points with a broken hand. More than that, Iverson loves his friends and family. So many have denigrated his "posse" as a distraction or a poor influence. This book, though, tells of a shared concern and loyalty between Iverson and his friends that existed long before the NBA millions and will surely survive his withdrawal from the spotlight. The importance of this love to Iverson's life cannot be overstated, but that's not the story you'll read in any newspaper.
You will find that passion in the pages of Larry Platt's book, and it is a passion with which everyone can sympathize. I do not know Allen Iverson. I know only what I could pull out of this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Judd Vance on December 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
One of the things I look for in a basketball biography is a person with an interesting story. Allen Iverson certainly qualifies.

This biography is written by Larry Platt, the unofficial hip-hop hoops biographer and author of Keepin' It Real. Platt tells Iverson's story, starting with his mother's upbringing through Iverson's - starting with his life in the rough Newport News, Virginia ghetto, through his 2-year college stint at Georgetown and through first six seasons in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The best part about the book is that it goes into detail on many of the controversial events of Iverson's life: the bowling alley incident in high school, his "practice" rant to the media, his arrest for allegedly throwing his naked wife out of his house, his rap album, his "disrespect" of Michael Jordan, and his relationship with Larry Brown. The media worked overtime to paint him as a 1-dimensional thug, but it never seemed to add up when you saw him dote over his children in interviews: this doesn't jibe for a guy who wants to be a thug at all costs. I mean, seriously, a warm spot for kids? Platt paints a more complete picture of Iverson, adding depth to the media characture. He exposes where the media screwed up by not correcting their own mistakes, and on occasion why they would hold a grudge. He explains Iverson's problems with Larry Brown (as well as Brown's with Iverson, which was mentioned numerously by the press). He also explains Iverson's close relationships with his friends and mentors.

Platt is one of the best authors at explaining the hip hop generation. His writing is quick, easy, and entertaining. He goes into detail about the problems white middle class America has with embracing a hip hop superstar.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "bnichols43" on December 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Platt's biography is a compelling read. It's not something that you want to put down. Nevertheless, it paints and incomplete and too favorable picture of Allen Iverson. While Iverson is a tremendous player, all of his coaches and teammates have acknowledged that he has made some mistakes, particularly with his spotty attendance of practice and shootarounds. Nevertheless, Platt seems to make excuses for all of AI's screwups. Whenever he mentions that Iverson doesn't attend practice, makes a foolish financial decision, disrespects his coach, undermines his teammates, etc., he writes it off as a product of Iverson's tough upbringing or desire to "keep it real." While Iverson's difficult childhood certainly created some incredible obstacles, Platt goes out of his way to explain away the star's mistakes. The book gives a great inside look, but it almost seems as if Platt wants to become one of Iverson's inner circle and this novel sucks up to the superstar way too much. It's worth reading, but if you're a knowledgeable sports fan, you'll easily recognize that Pratt is way too generous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Only the Strong Survive: The Odyssey of Allen Iverson by Larry Platt

Allen Iverson grew up a poor child in the streets of Hampton and Newport News, Virginia. Although this was a place of many hardships for him, it was also the place where his talent that would eventually make him rich started. The young Iverson loved to play football, often going against much bigger kids as if it was nothing. He possessed a great toughness that allowed him to be hit over and over again and still come back as if nothing had happened. However, one day coming back from playing football, Allen's mother told him to get ready for basketball practice. He seemed outraged; "Basketball is for sissy's" he told Ann, but she forced him to go anyway. Allen cried the whole way to practice; little did he know it was the greatest thing that could have ever happened to him.

Allen Iverson was a great athlete as a kid and still is today. His talent in sports is definitely his claim to fame. Without it he might still be on poor on the streets now like he was as a kid. His life changed completely the day after he decided to enter the NBA Draft and leave Georgetown University behind. Taken as the first pick of the 76ers in 1996, Iverson instantly became one of the top players in the league. However, even though he was one of the most respected players on the court, he was the least off it. Many people disapproved of his gangster looks and the way he carried himself outside the gym. Nevertheless, fans of the NBA eventually fell in love with not only Iverson's play, but also the person himself. Although he is an incredible player, Iverson has yet to win a championship; his closest chance came in the NBA Finals of 2001 when the 76ers lost to the Lakers in 5 games of a best-of-7 series.
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