What do you give people that have problems with authority? Anarchy! Let's imagine the Chinese NBA, starring Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, and more.

From Hampton To Hunan! Imagining Allen Iverson In The NBA's Far-Eastern Conference

What do you give people that have problems with authority? Anarchy! Let's imagine the Chinese NBA, starring Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, and more. (Warning: NSFW Language to follow)

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From Hampton To Hunan: Imagining Allen Iverson In The NBA's Far-Eastern Conference

So this got lost in the shuffle last week, but we can't let another day pass without at least mentioning how outrageously appropriate it'd be for Allen Iverson to finish his career in China.

Not Philadelphia. Not Memphis. Not Europe. Not even Israel.

We always knew that Iverson wouldn't be the type to fade away gracefully, and this fits that trajectory far better than any halfhearted retirement tour with the 76ers or some complimentary role on a contender. Leave that for company men like Shaquille O'Neal. Allen Iverson's a superstar in any language, so if it can't work here, then he'll just head east.

From Hampton to Hunan, son!


It's not so much a resolution to Iverson's legacy as proof that the conflict will never be resolved. Last year I wrote that Allen Iverson is basketball's answer to Tupac Shakur, and while it would have been more convenient for AI to end his run with the 76ers, fighting valiantly to the very end, Iverson's story has never offered much in the way of convenient interpretations. This is the way it was always going to be. It makes sense now.

On the heels of maybe the craziest six month run in NBA history, wouldn't it be perfect for AI to take his talents to the most bat-shit insane place on earth? And Stephon Marbury's over there, too!

This could be the start of something special. China could become the NBA's island of misfit toys, and people like Iverson and Marbury will head over there to play the tail end of their careers, immersed in the gonzo vision of basketball that they'd been chasing from Day 1.

Let's think about the list of players that belong in China.

Marbury, Iverson, Gilbert Arenas, Stephen Jackson, Ron Artest, Rasheed Wallace, Eddy Curry, Jason Williams, Jayson Williams, Julius Hodge, Sebastian Telfair, Delonte West, JR Smith, Earl Boykins, Chris Andersen, James White, Kirk Hinrich, Sean Williams, Avery Johnson (coaching), Violet Palmer (officiating), Stephen A. Smith (gotta think he follows Iverson), Dennis Rodman, the entire Golden State Warriors team, and probably Hedo Turkoglu.

Some of those guys have perfectly acceptable NBA jobs this year, but wouldn't it be great if at some point, "NBA China" took root as a viable alternative to the boring product we watch at home? With all its the "rules" and "safety concerns" and "meaningful games." The NBA's so unimaginative. What if China became a haven for basketball anarchy?

With Iverson pondering a move to the far east, at the very least, we're on the brink of the most hilarious rivalry rejuvenation since Kenny Powers vs. Reg Mackworthy. It's a special miracle of circumstance and fate, and one that needs to be celebrated. With some fan fiction, perhaps?

Yeah, I guess that's what you'd call this. What follows are a few imagined scenarios for next season with Iverson, Marbury, and a handful of other NBA'ers that won't be in China, but should be in China. Our narrator is an earnest reporter that joins the Chinese Basketball scene midway through the year, looking to divine how, exactly, these men have started a revolution thousands of miles away. Over the course of a few months, his tone turns from reverent to exasperated to ... Well, you'll see.


DAY 1, MEETING THE TEAM: The team bus is stuck in traffic and late for a crucial game.

Not that you'd know it from looking up and down the aisles. A light, jovial hum of Mandarin fills the air toward the front of the Shaanxi Kylins' bus. Players are in good spirits this afternoon. The team's catering staff has provided Happy Meals for the road trip to Guandong, and a bootlegged copy of Transformers 2 plays on the overhead televisions.

Have you ever watched Transformers 2 dubbed over in Chinese? It's a luxury the Chinese players had never imagined before this season.

Toward the back of the bus, the catalysts for this sea change—the team's swaggering nucleus from the west—sit quietly. JR Rider is the veteran here; he's been in East Asia for nearly a decade, having arrived unexpectedly in 2002. He awoke one morning in a Beijing Brothel, having apparently traveled to China while in the throes of an industrial grade blackout. Now that the shock has subsided, though, Rider remembers the ride fondly.

"It was like time travel, man." He's smiling now, as he continues, "One minute I'm in Oakland at a dogfight, next thing you know, BAM! I'm tangled up in some chicks named Ling and Long, covered in Ketamine residue. Like, did this dude just do this? And I did. Shit was kinda dope."

Kinda dope, indeed.

Today, Rider's wearing a FILA sweatsuit and some knockoff Gucci loafers, looking every bit the Chinese All-Star that's led the league in shots attempted for the past three seasons. While fiddling with his MiniDisc player in one hand, he uses t heother to roll his McDonalds wrapper into what appears to be a mock-marijuana cigarette. "See, they think it's a game out here," he says, pressing the McDonalds wrapper to his pursed lips. "But the thing they don't know is... This real life out here. So real. Too real."

And then J.R. Rider exhales his invisible smoke, as if to emphasize the point.

Behind him and to the right, the team's superstar is clad in boxer shorts and a white tank top. "Wife beaters," the Americans call them. Allen Iverson just calls them comfortable.

An unlit Newport cigarette dangling from his mouth, Iverson is fast asleep when the team manager takes to the PA system to announce the news. "交通不减弱。 我们将必须走最后的二英哩。 劫掠您的设备," he announces to the Chinese members of the team. "The traffic continue," he says to the Americans at the back. "We walk now. Lift your equipment." 

"WHERE THE HAPPY MEALS AT?" shouts Zach Randolph.

"You eat already!" yells a 5-foot-4 assistant coach named Zhao Li.


"I watch you eat!" Zhao Li is walking toward the back of the bus now, irritated. "You go NOW!"

The English is broken, but Randolph gets the message. Or rather, he eyes the remaining Happy Meals at the front of the bus, and makes a quick move toward the exit. In the land of Confucius, motivation manifests itself in curious ways.

Iverson, however, remains unmoved. Zhao Li announces, "Mr. Allen, we go now."

Iverson's awake now, counting his cigarettes. So calculating. So cool. "Allen Iverson is about to take another nap," responds Allen Iverson. "But Allen Iverson will be ready at gametime."

Li responds, "Mr. Allen, bus is STOP. Traffic continue. We go now WALK through the streets. Or we miss game and LOSE."

"Walking?" Allen Iverson sits up with an arched brow and angry sneer. "Walking???"

He laughs. Incredulous, maybe a bit unhinged. The laugh of kings. Then he continues, "Ay Li, we better be talkin' bout 'woking' me some fuckin deep fried rice back here, because Allen Iverson ain't WALKing nowhere." He sniffs angrily, like a bull preparing for conflict. Where is the matador when you need him?

Just then, Isiah Thomas steps onto the bus. Like a savant risen from a smog-filled horizon. He wears a silk Armani suit, dark sunglasses, and the smile of man who's finally found his destiny. Meet the most important man in Chinese Basketball.

He is soothsayer here. Horse whisperer. The oracle that restores order in this, the most chaotic of basketball universes. MSG was yesterday, and today, Isiah is Confucius. Worldwide Wes? Take some notes from International Isiah.

"Let's go Allen," he says softly. "You've got a game to play."

And just like that, the beast is tamed, primed to unleash his fury on the competition hours later.


DAY 10, THE MILITANT GRASSHOPPER GOES TO WORK: Fourth quarter. Shaanxi trailing DongGuan by one with 16 seconds to go. Monta Ellis has been a revelation for DongGuan, who have utilized the so-called "Sleepy Comet" on the pick-and-roll to the tune of 46 points tonight. But it was another star that gave DongGuan the late lead.

The "bald huao shan" popped out and nailed a three as the shot clock expired, giving his team team the lead, showering the court with profanity, and proving yet again that he's worthy of his namesake.

But of course Rasheed is worthy. Since his arrival, the "bald huao shan" (in English, the "bald volcano") has been as explosive as anyone in the league. His caustic ways with authority have made him a fan-favorite among the Chinese, most whom have long harbored similar sentiments toward their government oppressors.

Is the Bald Huao Shan leading a revolution in DongGuan?

If his team can play defense on this final possession... Maybe.

In the opposing huddle, the Shaanxi hopes to quash the uprising with a pick-and-pop of his own. Iverson, China's beloved "Militant Grasshopper", puffs on a Newport with the calm reassurance of a man who knows his destiny. He's going straight to hole, he's going to score, and he's going to the backstreets of DongGuan to celebrate with a much-needed massage.

"Pick-and-pop," he says. "Got it, Coach." Basketball Confucius had to return to the States to settle a paternity suit, so Shaanxi is being coached by Zhao Li tonight. Iverson's got it, alright. He just doesn't care what Coach Zhao has to say about it.

He coughs as he leaves the huddle. A smoker's cough? No, a winner's cough.

"Time for the captain to make it happen," he says to nobody in particular. Iverson tosses his cigarette in a bucket of talcum powder at the scorer's table. Just another day at the office...



I don't even know where I am anymore.

Chinese New Year's was last night, but the party continues today, with a gray haze enveloping the day like a thick wool blanket. Or a hangover, perhaps. Yes, a hangover. That works better.

It's All-Star Weekend over here, and the Americans have gathered to celebrate the holiday as only they can. By partying for 72 hours straight. The celebration hasn't come without casualties, myself included. Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, and a prostitute that calls herself Fortune Cookie sit in a dimly lit internet cafe, leading the circus with boundless energy, freestyling on an illegal uStream feed. Meanwhile, Zach Randolph sits somewhere in a Shanghai jail, having somehow procured riot gear the night before, then using the flare gun he found to destory a Chinese float that was, in his words, "Lookin' at me sideways."

The All-Stars brought Earl Boykins out to join in the festivities and the poor little guy slipped into a coma after his seventh "Sleeping Dragon," the drink devised by Ron Artest for the weekend. A sleeping dragon, if you must know, includes an ungodly mix of Chivas Regal, green tea, and Bai Jui.

J.R. Smith met his match in the form a 4-10 "masseuse" named Li Hao XueFeng. She called herself "Omarosa" to sound more Western. No one's seen Smith in 48 hours. 

Kirk Hinrich got kidnapped, we think, but nobody bothered to investigate.

Hedo Turkoglu has gained 45 pounds since arriving in China last weekend.

Artest, caught in the heat of the moment during last night's parade, sought to establish citizenship in his new homeland. Upon his application's rejection, Artest promised to "even scores with them cats when they least expect it. On some Mission Impossible type shit. Swear to God. Some Mission Impossible type shit." Nobody's seen him since.

Oh, and me.

Let's just say that in life, you promise yourself there are some things you're never going to do. Get a tattoo, try hard drugs, sleep in the street, betray a family member... These sort of things. And once you do those things, a certain part of you is just... Gone. Gone for good. Because some things, you can't un-see. You can't un-feel. When innocence is lost, it's gone for good.

And without incriminating myself too much, what happened between me, Fortune Cookie, and Stephon has left me scarred for life. There's no getting around it. The candle wax, my wedding ring again, the ropes, the rubbing alcohol, that poor cat! Chinese finger traps aren't supposed to be used for what we used them for.

I feel like my soul went 12 rounds with Tyson. I have no taste buds left. My body feels like Paris Hilton's vagina and Lindsay Lohan's reputation combined. So weathered. So beaten. Does God exist? Let's hope not.

How do these people live like this?

If anyone asks about the voicemails, just tell them it was the amphetamines talking.

Sorry Dad. Happy New Year.


DAY 165: HOTEL ROOM DEMENTIA: What are you looking at?

If this all reads like an elaborate, ether-fueled nightmare, that's because for one of us, it is. Allen and Stephon are debating God again. I'm in the corner. It's 7 a.m. The playoffs start in 6 hours, and it's been 36 hours since anyone slept. "Celebrating" again. Why can't I stop shaking?


"But how do you explain green being green?" wonders Marbury, re-hashing some old rhetoric. "Why can't you say another word for green being green? Know what I'm saying?"

"Nah, fuck that. FUCK. THAT." Iverson's tone turns from excited to surly. "Religion done caused every war in human history, son. How does God explain that? Real talk, what religion was Hitler?"

J.R. Rider interjects, "Streets is my religion." He punctuates this with an insane cackle.

Marbury's undeterred. "But what's the risk, fam? If God exists and heaven exists, you go to heaven. If they don't exist, what do you lose? Why not believe? Shit is real out here. We all gotta believe."

Zach Randolph stands on a glass table, tempting fate, and screams, "I believe in ME, MY MONEY, AND FRENCH BREAD PIZZA." He spits vodka all over the bed spread, collapsing in a fit of his own giggles.

"That ain't even it though." Iverson's not backing down. "We fool ourselves into thinking that belief gives us strength, when in all actuality, we spend our lives living for someone else's code. That's our loss, family. That's our loss. Even if we lose nothing of value, we're committing ourselves to a confined intellect. As long we believe there's this big mysterious power in the sky that dwarfs us all. Then what are we, real talk? I'm trying to put you on the game here. They got us worried about original sin?"

He lights a Newport. "Christ as my witness son, original sin was believin' in that shit to begin with." Iverson exhales his menthol smoke, and the room falls silent.

I hate this place. I hate this place so much. 

A knock, and Isiah Thomas enters the room. "Are you serious right now? Are you guys serious?"

A pause. "I just got another complaint from downstairs. That's the third time in 8 hours. Now, you know me. I'm not perfect. Never claim to be. Shame on you? No, shame on me." Isiah steps over a passed out Ruben Patterson and stands at the center of the room.

"Fellas, this is real life out here. You can't just spend your nights drinking liquor and gambling and arguing about religion. Assuming makes an ass out of you and me and him and her. No pork on my fork means no beef on my plate. You know?"

Basketball Confucius sometimes sounds like a schizophrenic. He carries the sheen of a evangelical, almost walking like he's surrounded by light. And like any evangelical, he's at least a little bit insane. The players are enraptured as he continues. "Why'd you come to China, Allen? To make a few more millions and a few more of the same mistakes you've been making for years? Stephon? Remember when you said that your goal was to make the Starburys a global brand? Well, why can't we all double our pleasure and double our fun? Because not everyone has a pack of Doublemint gum. We're playing for keeps over here. It's 7 a.m. and the playoffs start in six hours. One, two, three, four. Who's ready for a thumb war? That's reality, guys. Real talk, as you might say."

Rider nods approvingly toward the preacher, then turns to his peers. He burps loudly. "That came from my SOOOOOULLLL, yo!  Swallow the truth, belch reality!"

"AND FART FANTASIES," booms Zach Randolph, farting loudly.

The room smells like a dead animal now. Like an Indian landfill. Like the Elephant House at the Zoo, if the Elephant House was full of dead bodies and biodiesel. How am I the only one that notices?

"That's what I like to hear," Basketball Confucius says, smiling from ear to ear. "Sober up, get some breakfast in you. Then... Live your fantasy. Enough theology. This is what we came here for." I really just want to go home.


NEXT: THE PLAYERS VISIT WITH CHINESE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. And Ron Artest refers to every authority figure as General Tso, complimenting them on their chicken recipe.

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