A.I. Reasserts His Swag Via Haircut


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↵Brett Pollakoff of FanHouse broke the news through a breathless email: Allen Iverson has shorn his braids. (Naturally, I discussed the matter with TSB's Bethlehem Shoals; these thoughts have been shaped by his analysis.)
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↵The least basketball-relevant All-Star starter this season, A.I. has guaranteed a ton more attention for himself this weekend. Since 1997 A.I. has rowed; the braids were long a symbol (along with his tattoos) of the urbanization of the NBA. Too many curmudgeons, nostalgiphiles and -- yes -- racists tied Iverson's image to the supposed downfall of the lig. A fairly common but decidedly non-white hairstyle became an image of old-school/New Wave militarism, and the war has been waged to this day.
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↵Let's not assume Iverson's Samsonite decision has anything to do with Obama's election (negating the need for self-expression for the extra-mainstream) or some ironic nod to ex-teammate Carmelo Anthony (who also snipped the braids this season). Every monument is personal and local; as A.I.'s reign ends, this can be seen either as personal rebirth begging for acknowledgment of continued import, or an admission he understands his career bell-curve is fading toward black.
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↵Either way, reinvention as a role player is the next step. And that's the step that allows A.I. to exist in the NBA next season. Iverson couldn't take a small contract (which is all he'll receive this summer) without the process coming on his own terms. The Answer understands, everyone, and it's all going to be OK.
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↵UPDATE: Nate Jones has the stunning photo evidence.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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