Answer lets others provide answers

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2002

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) -- Allen Iverson let his supporters do all the talking. Making his first public appearance since his arrest Tuesday, the Philadelphia 76ers' star signed autographs and mingled with fans, but didn't speak to reporters at his annual children's charity event Saturday night.

''He's a wholesome, decent, God-fearing young person,'' said Novella Williams, spokeswoman for Iverson's Celebrity Classic. ''I stand committed with my other young women to free this young man from the powers of evil.''

Iverson, the NBA's MVP in 2000-01, is accused of barging into his cousin's apartment with a gun and threatening two men while looking for his wife several hours before dawn on July 3. Police said Tawanna Iverson had checked into a hotel on July 1 after the couple had an argument. Tawanna Iverson attended the game with the couple's two children and the family left the stadium together. Iverson originally was to speak to children at an afternoon rap session, but didn't arrive until about two hours before the scheduled game. Wearing a retro Philadelphia Phillies jersey with the No. 14, Iverson signed autographs for about 30 minutes and then disappeared into the locker room.

He emerged to loud cheers shortly before 7 p.m., waved his arms and pounded his chest.

Fans attending the celebrity softball game voiced support for Iverson.

''He didn't do anything wrong,'' said Lawrence Hillman of Philadelphia. ''People just keep blowing this out of proportion.''

Camden mayor Gwendoyln Faison thanked Iverson for raising money to benefit children in her city.

''Don't kill the man. Don't down him. Give him a break,'' Faison said.

Among those playing in the game were Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett, Houston Rockets guard Steve Francis and Sixers guard Eric Snow. Former Sixers president Pat Croce, Iverson's teammate, Aaron McKie, and middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins also were in attendance.

Iverson surrendered to authorities on Tuesday. A judge agreed Thursday to delay a hearing that will determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to try Iverson until either July 29 or 30.

Iverson's attorney, Richard Sprague, has declined to comment on the case, other than to say that three-time All-Star intends to plead innocent. Iverson's uncle, who allegedly accompanied the 27-year-old guard, also is charged.

Although the charges against Iverson carry a maximum sentence of more than 50 years, lawyers not involved in the case said the three-time scoring champion is unlikely to serve jail time even if convicted.

No matter the outcome in court, Iverson faces possible action from NBA commissioner David Stern, who has suspended him in the past.

Iverson sat out the first game of the 1997-98 season after pleading no contest to a gun charge when police near Richmond, Va., that summer stopped a car in which he was a passenger and found his gun and two marijuana cigarettes.

Iverson's first brush with the law came as a teen-ager in 1993. He was convicted of maiming by mob after a racially charged bowling alley brawl in which he was accused of hitting a woman over the head with a chair, knocking her unconscious. Iverson served four months of a five-year prison sentence, then was granted clemency by then-Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder. The conviction was overturned in 1995.

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