The third meeting with Gary Smith was a much more insightful experience. He had finally grown comfortable enough with me to open up about the truly odd behavior surrounding Iverson’s “transformation.” Sitting in the back room of a Fogo de Chao in Washington, D.C., the specifics that I had been hounding him for finally came out. The evidence that I had accrued, albeit, mostly circumstantial, was finally coming together.
“That Matt Barnes story that just came out is actually a lot more telling.” Smith began, “That was actually beta testing for the prototype. Allen used strip clubs not only because they were players’ frequent haunts, but because they were so dark, and there was obvious visual distractions. The one thing Barnes didn’t mention is that night, from the neck down, Allen was covered in a motion-capture suit underneath his clothes. He was getting locomotion data. You know how the NBA came down on the players’ dress code around the same time, and most of the public scorn came down on Allen’s head? Well, he wasn’t wearing those big, baggy clothes for style. He needed all that fabric to cover what he was developing. That just goes to show you how good Allen was at covering everything up. Even the Commissioner’s office had no idea. They thought Iverson was just being ‘gangster.’ In reality, Iverson hated wearing those outfits. He constantly would complain about it.”
This information allowed me to explain all those instances of Iverson hooking up with groupies while keeping all of his clothes on. It now seemed to make sense.
“What about the stories of Iverson’s drinking?” I asked Smith. The legend of Iverson being a functional alcoholic during his playing days almost seemed impossible.
“You’re right.” Smith answered, “For as high-tech as the cyborg was, it ran on a mixture of kerosene, gunpowder, and a substance that I once saw knock out Matt Geiger from 15 feet. The problem was that to make the robot seem as legitimate as possible, it’s engine had to run as high as possible when it would stand in for Allen, since the real Iverson played at such a crazy pace. The artificial Allen had to be replenished several times a day with that concoction, sometimes right there in the locker room. So, to avoid suspicion, Allen started the rumor that he was a raging alcoholic. In hindsight, both the good and bad thing about professional sports is that, as long as you perform, no one really cares what you do with the other 21 hours of your day.”
I almost couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “So you’re saying that the real Allen Iverson doesn’t have a drinking problem?”
Smith laughed incredulously, “Oh, hell no. He has a crazy drinking problem. He just didn’t have it THEN.”