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Allen Iverson thanks everyone for attending his celebrity basketball game held last Sunday at Temple University's Liacouras Center. Alyssa Cwanger/The Summer Pennsylvanian

Saw A.I. last weekend.

No, not the Spielberg flick. I'm talking Allen Iverson, face to face, up close and personal.

I decided to check out the Allen Iverson Celebrity Summer Classic last weekend, because I wanted to see how much this Iverson character really cared about the community... and because I had nothing better to do.

So last Saturday, I hopped on the ferry to Camden for the Party on the Waterfront, featuring music, basketball and celebrities.

As it turned out, it only featured music and basketball. Allen Iverson was supposed to be there. So were a host of other NBA stars. All I saw were a few rappers, DJ's and concession stand workers.

The biggest celebrity there was KAT, a female rapper who performed about as well as an elephant on crutches. But at least the frozen lemonade only cost me five bucks.

The next day, I was given a press pass from the Metro to cover the Allen Iverson Reebok Celebrity Basketball Game. (By cover, I mean do one interview, sit in press row and write a six-paragraph story on Pepe Sanchez.)

The first challenge of the day was obtaining my press pass. The good people at Temple sent me on a wild goose chase in search of the credentials. When I finally got my hands on the gold, I wandered over to what I thought was a pretty good seat.

As it turns out, the seat was about six inches from Iverson himself. Not too bad.

Now in the past year, I've read a lot about Iverson's transformation from street thug to decent human being. But I wanted to see it for myself. So I studied the Sixers hero and league MVP. Forget everything else you ever heard. Here is the inside scoop:

Iverson, fighting through a joyous mob, enters the court about 45 minutes after the game is scheduled to begin. He looks happy, like a little kid in a candy shop, dancing around, hugging his boys, getting pumped for the big game.

The game starts. The matchup looks a little like the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Bad News Bears. Iverson, the head coach of the Iverson All-Stars, starts NBA stars Rasheed Wallace, Tim Thomas, Jumaine Jones, Larry Hughes and actor Lorenz Tate. The other team, also known as the Isaac Hayes Crusaders, starts a bunch of nobodies. Tipoff.

Iverson plops himself onto the media table, obstructing my view a bit. So I say, "Allen, can you please move a bit to the right?" And he says, "Sure, is there anything else I can do for you?" What a great guy. Not really. I kept my mouth shut the entire game.

About twenty seconds into the game, an annoying, middle-aged woman comes running up to us out of breath. "Allen, can you please sign this?" she shrieks, pointing to the Sports Illustrated cover featuring a topless Iverson covered in rose petals. He says, "You see what I'm doing, please baby. I'm coaching the game." Hey, it makes sense. Give the man a break. The disgruntled woman returns to her seat, cursing the existence of all athletes.

Turn to the court. Alley-oops, reverse slams, 30-foot jumpers, no defense. Kinda like those three-on-three games on my driveway. Except these guys are actually good. One guy dribbled the ball off someone's head and then sat down on the floor to continue dribbling. Shot clock violation. No love for the showboats.

Late in the first quarter, Iverson was agitated by a call by the refs (that was the first time I noticed there were referees). He pretended to squirt some water on them, and as he turns back to the bench, some water actually gets on me. I immediately sell the shirt, complete with an Iverson water stain, for $75 to a nearby autograph seeker.

In the second quarter, Coach Iverson begins to use some interesting techniques. Not bothering to wait for the whistle, he makes a substitution on the fly. He then makes an errant inbounds pass, turns to the crowd and says, "Coach got a turnover." His line on the afternoon: 0 minutes, 0 points, 1 turnover. Kinda like Charlie Copp.

Iverson's troops are actually losing at halftime, but the coach isn't worried. "We gonna win, that's all that matters," he yells to the opposing coach. While the players are horsing around on the court during the break, the annoying woman returns, now desperate for Iverson's signature. While waiting, a gracious Jackie Frazier comes over to sign for some kids. She asks for a marker, and the woman overhears and reluctantly hands one to her. "Give it back, it's my only one," the woman mutters, as if Sister Smoke, the daughter of Joe Frazier, needs an extra black Sharpie to add to her trophy collection.

Suddenly, a 350-pounder with a goatee down to his neck walks right in front of me. I cower. The persistent woman, who I have grown to hate, is not alarmed. "Can you tell Allen that everyone has signed this but him?" she says to the beast, as if Iverson would come running over if he knew he was the missing piece to Ms. Kirkpatrick's living room. The woman motions to her SI cover with a brace on her left pointer finger. I suspect her finger was snapped in half by an annoyed athlete. The beast looks at her and just shakes his head. The woman returns to her seat, cursing the existence of all athletes. I reach over and snap another one of her fingers.

The second half begins. More alley-oops and reverse jams. The Iverson All-Stars, however, find themselves in a bit of a hole as the half winds on. And with just eight minutes left in the contest, the Crusaders have a commanding 103-90 lead. Iverson calls a timeout and puts in everyone who gets paid to play basketball. Final score: 120-115, All-Stars. I'm shocked.

The final horn blows and the mass exodus begins. I try to get up from my seat, but the stampede knocks me to the ground. Everybody and their mother is looking for an autograph. Iverson goes to center court briefly, says he did it all for the kids and thanks Philadelphia for being so supportive. He then makes a quick getaway in his convertible without signing an autograph or talking to the press.

Bottom line: Iverson's a good person who had some fun at a charity basketball game. But the fact that he didn't make himself available to those fans that adore him at his own charity event does not speak very highly of him.

Sure, it must be tough getting hounded and pestered and harassed all the time. But for just one weekend of the offseason, Iverson should have decided to really put himself out and give something back to his fans.

Except, of course, to that woman with the brace.

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