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Allen Iverson knows he’s a role model

During a media session over All-Star weekend, Allen Iverson spoke candidly about charity, religion, the afterlife and his responsibility as a role model. If you're used to boring cliches, stop reading. From Praying Fields, a Washington Post blog about religion and sports (via Dave Dial at MLive's Full-Court Press):

Allen Iverson, sporting a new hairstyle reminiscent of his days at Georgetown, was sitting around one of those NBA all-star weekend media sessions when he was asked by a reporter about whether he thought some of the NBA charity events -- reading books to kids, handing out Thanksgiving turkeys -- were a bit staged.

"Fake," said the 10-time all-star who plays for the Detroit Pistons.

Iverson went on to say that he prefers the cameras not be around when he helps others less fortunate than him.

"I just look forward to doing it. I don't need all the publicity that comes with it. I don't need that. When it's time for me to get toward that gate, either He [is] gonna say, 'Come in,' or He [is] gonna say, 'Turn around.' And a camera won't decide whether I get in or not."

[...] "I've done a lot of good things in my life and done a lot of bad things in my life so I don't know. I hope the good things outweigh the bad things. I'm damn sure I don't want to go to hell."

The discussion turned to how sports can be an escape from the troubles of everyday life and whether NBA players and other professional athletes should be viewed as role models.

"We have more impact on the world than people may think, than even we might think, you know what I mean? When I was younger, when we talk about role model-type situations, I never knew that we were important like we are.

"We are role models, regardless if we like it or not. It is something that we got to accept, but it is something that people should know that we're human and we make mistakes and we are not going to be perfect. You can want to be like Allen Iverson, but I don't think people should try to be like Allen Iverson. I think people should be better than Allen Iverson."

Iverson made these comments over the weekend, but it's a little ironic I found them today. Tonight's game against the Spurs is being televised by TNT, and Charles Barkley, who famously denied being a role model while shilling for Nike 15 years ago, is making his long-awaited return to "Inside the NBA" after a leave of absence prompted by a decidely un-role-model-like DUI arrest on New Year's Eve.