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You’ve probably heard the song “White Iverson” by Post Malone. It probably got stuck in your head afterward too. There is no shame in that – the song is undoubtedly catchy, and if you like basketball then you like Allen Iverson, and thus the song probably piqued your interest.

But the question must be posed: how the fuck can you be the white version of Allen Iverson? Being black isn’t what made Allen Iverson who he was – it was his style of play, his determination, his being the smallest guy on the floor yet capturing the most attention with his dogged appetite for the ball – but it was a large enough factor in his influence on popular culture that when a dude is claiming to be the white version of Allen Iverson, you probably shouldn’t trust that that person knows what they are talking about.

Thinking you can be the white version of Allen Iverson greatly misinterprets his legacy: here is a guy, Iverson, who was incarcerated at the age of 17 for “maiming by mob” when he allegedly struck a white woman in the head with a chair after a physical altercation at a bowling alley that pitted Iverson and his black friends against a bunch of white kids. Iverson and three other black teens were the only ones arrested, and Iverson was sentenced to 15 years in prison, a sentence he served 4 months of prior to being granted clemency by the Virginia governor at the time due to a lack of evidence. Namely, all evidence pointed to the fact that the story of Iverson hitting a woman with a chair was completely fabricated, and the pivotal video in the case showed Iverson leaving the bowling alley as the fight escalated.

Here is a guy who inspired millions of kids playing youth basketball to wear sleeves on their arms as a cosmetic statement, and who made corn rows fashionable (and inextricably linked to his name). Most importantly, here is a guy who overcame a country’s socioeconomic system dedicated to giving him every disadvantage it could to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and then when his playing days were over he was mercilessly kicked to the curb by that same system because there was no longer a way for wealthy, predominantly white men in suits to monetize his name.

How can you be the white version of that?

And indeed, it turns out Post Malone is a 20 year old white dude, meaning he was 11 years old when Iverson was traded from the Sixers to the Nuggets, decidedly a turning point in A.I.’s career and the point where he started to noticeably decline into “Option B,” or everything his legacy is not: Iverson will go down as a “give me the ball, get the fuck out of the way” kinda guy in the best way possible, not a “if Melo can’t get a good look, I’ll take the ball, I guess” kinda guy. That is to say, Post Malone has probably learned about Iverson via YouTube videos. Which is fine – most of what I know about Michael Jordan comes from VHS tapes, as I did not have cable during his prime – but it’s also worth mentioning and subsequently questioning what attributes, exactly, make Post Malone identify with Allen Iverson.

Well good thing we have Rap Genius (and I really hope that is the first and last time I’ll write that sentence). Here is Post Malone’s commentary on what his lyrics, “I’m balling, I’m balling, Iverson on you” mean to him.

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HOLY HELL. This is worse than we thought. Let’s break this down, especially the first few sentences:

“I like the ball, A.I. likes the ball.” 

Liking “the ball” means you are Iverson.

Got it? Good. Great.

“I didn’t really get to watch him play because I was into football.”

Ah, yes, the old “one-sport-per-lifetime” policy.

“My dad raised me to be a Cowboys fan.”

RELEVANT.

“He worked at the stadium and we would get free chicken tenders – we would go to the games and we would rock it. But now I go back and watch A.I.’s old games with the Sixers, the highlights and all that good stuff.” 

So, to sum up: Post Malone didn’t really watch A.I. play basketball while he was growing up, because 8 Sundays per year – almost all of which do not fall on days the NBA would be playing games – he was getting hooked up with free chicken tenders at Cowboys games and “rocking it.” But, as predicted, now he watches Allen Iverson on YouTube. At least, he watches “the highlights and all that good stuff.”

I think we are getting closer to understanding why Post Malone thinks of himself as the White Iverson: because he has no fucking idea who Allen Iverson is or was.

Other parallels Post Malone draws between himself and Allen Iverson are:

1. He drinks a lot (“I’m saucin’, I’m saucin’…”). Admittedly, drinking is a unique trait. Not many people sauce.

2. He started balling when he was young. Seriously, it’s getting creepy just how similar these two guys are.

3. “[Post Malone] need that money like that ring [Post Malone] never won.” That’s right, folks: Post Malone needs money, just like he needs an NBA championship ring. Just like Allen Iverson! Again with the crazy coincidences. It’s uncanny.

Now might be a good time to cop to the fact that I understand much of this – or really, all of it – is metaphor. For a rapper, “balling” can have several different connotations that have nothing to do with basketball. I understand that this song is probably about Post Malone declaring Allen Iverson is the greatest at something (basketball), and that he views himself the greatest at something too (rapping). But what the fuck is “needing a ring” a metaphor for? A record deal? Marriage?

But hey, there is always a chance Post Malone is really good at basketball and has a chance at getting an NBA championship ring, no?

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This fucking guy, man.

“I wanted to be a point guard… but realistically I would be probably forward. Maybe I would be a shooting guard. Today I will play all the positions, one, two, three, four, five, it doesn’t matter.” I mean, what?

In “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Coates repeatedly refers to “people who think they are white” as the artifice that upholds institutionalized racism. As in, race in America is an artificial thing created by people with lighter skin tones who long ago decided to subjugate people with darker skin to horrifying abuse in order to build a country on their backs. I do not disagree that this is perhaps the number one issue that faces our country – our collective amnesia and unwillingness to grant reparations to those people afflicted with hundreds of years of severe disadvantage, every step of the way – and the one that even the most “liberal” of politicians consistently choose to ignore.

But maybe we’ve identified another problem, far less dire, and downright important to ignore: a person who thinks he is the white Allen Iverson.