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Report: Allen Iverson Agrees To Deal In Turkey


Yahoo!Sports is reporting that former NBA MVP Allen Iverson has agreed to an incentive-laden, 2-year $4-million deal with Turkish basketball team Besiktas Cola Turka.

Iverson plans to sign the contract this week, and is expected to report to Besiktas by Oct.31st. After getting no love from the NBA, Iverson reportedly entertained offers from the Chinese Basketball Association, before deciding on Turkey.

Iverson is one of the biggest NBA stars to ever cross the water, joining a select group of NBA legends including Bob McAdoo, Dominique Wilkins and Marques Johnson.

The Turkish basketball league is the 4th or 5th best in Europe in my opinion, but the city of Istanbul is one of the most beautiful destinations on the planet.

The actual terms of his base salary haven’t been released, and I am curious as to what incentives he has to reach to earn the full potential of his deal. Sounds like A.I. will have to win a lot and often to reach his bonuses – not an easy task for a player with Iverson’s skill set.

European teams usually covet quality big men and pure point guards, so I’m not exactly sure how a 5’11 shooting guard will go over in Istanbul…..

Iverson’s contract won’t allow him to opt-out till after the season, which gives the club security in knowing that they will have his talents for at least one season. It also forces Iverson to make a season long commitment to his club, which he hasn’t been able to do in his last few NBA stops.

I played professionally in Turkey several years ago, and I believe Iverson will have no problem adjusting to the Turkish culture, nightlife and party scene. Socially however, entourages of doo-rag rocking brothas laced in ice could be a recipe for disaster, though Turkey has grown more tolerant as a society in recent years.

In my extensive international travels, Istanbul is one of my favorite places, and serves as Turkey’s economic, political and social capital. It’s not as foreign as everyone assumes, and is a simple place to navigate – especially after Iverson plugs into a few quality social networks.

A beautiful city that sits on the Sea of Maramar, the people of Istanbul are enamored with stars and celebrities of Iverson’s stature.  Iverson, who is recently divorced, will find himself immersed in the Turkish music, television and film scene – where dozens of attractive singers and actresses will potentially be at his disposal.

But he has to be careful – those dudes that run things in Turkey don’t like their “American” professionals fraternizing with their entertainers.

Trust me I know, I was embedded in it and it is an animal.

ESPN is reporting that Iverson and the club were hashing out several issues before signing, including schools for the star’s children.  An interesting development to say the least, considering Iverson’s wife filed for divorce in March.

There are several English language schools in Istanbul, specifically for the children American and British expatriates.  It does signal that Iverson may be taking this opportunity seriously if he brings his kids with him, as the family vs bachelor dynamic completely changes the international experience.

But that’s an infinitely complicated matter I will let TMZ address.

The major basketball issue for Iverson will be adjusting to the level of play, a demanding coach, salty or jealous teammates, and the stigma of a fallen NBA star turned basketball vagabond. Iverson is used to being the man in the NBA, but has to fit in to the Turkish way of doing things.

An attitude make-over may be impossible for Iverson at this stage of his career, but a necessity unless he wants to get sent home. Turkish players, coaches and fans are far more sensitive than their American counterparts, so Iverson’s mean scowls and foul body language will undoubtedly offend – which is not a good thing.

His biggest challenge will be having to defer to the captain of his team and serve as a mentor to the younger players, something frequently asked of Iverson in recent years, but something he has never done.

[Spears & Wojnarowski]


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