Sports Illustrated’s longtime writer, Chris Mannix, was once a Boston Celtics ball boy. He was actually — as he said after a decade in the role — a “ball man,” but nothing beats his story about buying beer for Allen Iverson following the Sixers’ loss to the Celtics in the opening round of the 2001-02 Eastern Conference playoffs. The deciding game 5 was tougher for the Sixers, but following the game it was no picnic for Mannix either.
As relayed to us by Pro Basketball Talk, Mannix sat down with fellow SI scribe Mark Bechtel to discuss anecdotes from their careers which never made it into any finished pieces. Mannix’s AI aside is a classic addition to the Iverson mythology.
This retelling is interesting for five different reasons:
1) AI’s recent history suggests he’s battling some personal demons and one of them might be an addiction to alcohol. At least he didn’t ask Mannix to grab the rest of the bourbon.
2) Mannix was a ball boy for a decade?! That is a really long time for a gig that usually goes to the owner’s son or various kids and teenagers tangentially related to the team. Mannix was a ball boy after he turned 21 because he was buying beer. This makes us happy, but we’re not really sure why.
3) The Causeway scene Mannix describes in the video after the Celtics victory really is as crazy as he makes it sound, especially when you factor in the deciding game of a Celtics playoff series. The fact that Mannix was able to get any beer through the hordes of rowdy, convivial bros that populate that entire stretch is a miracle in-and-of-itself.
4) If you believe the recent articles about Iverson — most notably by the Washington Post — besides AI’s personal foibles, he’s nearly broke after accruing over $150 million in salary during his playing career and many millions more from Reebok and other sponsorship deals. Maybe $2000 for post-game beer is overdoing it a bit, but…
5) Iverson was also incredibly generous with all the money he made in his career. To wit: he handed $2000 to an unknown ball boy to buy as much Corona as possible after a playoff loss; except, he only received four cases of Corona in return for all that cash. Most NBA players would have bugged out. Instead, a crestfallen Iverson — who had just been eliminated from the first round of the playoffs after reaching the NBA Finals the year before — just accepted Mannix’s stuttered non-explanation and went and drank the remaining Corona on the bus as he prepared or a long offseason.
Allen Iverson, worts and all, is truly one of the most fascinating people in all of NBA history. We really hope the Sixers lure him out of retirement and he leads them to the Eastern Conference Finals like NBA 2K14 prophesies.
What do you think?
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