Another athlete's legal woes tarnish hero image

Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2002

What's the ticket-buying public supposed to think when yet another professional athlete and well-paid corporate spokesman is accused of acting like a lawless heel? And what kind of messages are our children getting when their sports idols repeatedly come across as overpaid, overpampered and overindulgent?

When NBA star Allen Iverson's trouble with the law broke last week, it put Canton-based Reebok in a tough spot. The footwear and apparel giant said it is standing by its most visible product endorser and has no plans to remove Iverson from its marketing lineup. A Reebok spokeswoman suggested that Iverson is somehow the victim of some celebrity witch hunt. ...

The former NBA MVP faces charges of criminal trespass, simple assault, terroristic threats and gun offenses. Four of the counts are felonies. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 54 years in prison.

Sixers coach Larry Brown and general manager Billy King said they will support Iverson during the legal process. Brown spoke to Iverson on Thursday and said his star player is ''hurting.'' ...

His coaches and his Reebok image handlers are hoping Iverson can beat this latest charge. But it's for the sake of the countless young fans who've bought his jersey or his poster and looked up to this talented young player that the public once again hopes against hope for the latest pro athlete who's run afoul of the law.

-- The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.

July 16

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