Rich Hofmann | A.I. in court: 'I'm just a target'

Posted: July 03, 2007

WASHINGTON - Most times, the defendant in a $20 million lawsuit chooses to attend the proceedings from start to finish, sitting there at the defense table, listening to the dastardly allegations being made against him, scribbling little notes and whispering to his

attorneys.

Allen Iverson, not so much.

We're talking about (legal) practice,

after all.

More than once last week, the plaintiff's attorney made a show of pointing out

the empty chair to the jurors who must decide if the allegations are true that

Iverson and his posse-gone-wild beat up a couple of guys at a Washington nightclub in 2005, causing physical and emotional injuries.

But Iverson did put on a sport coat yesterday and testified as the final witness called by the plaintiffs. He came, he called them all money-grubbing liars, and he left.

"I could be spending time with my kids in the hotel and my wife," Iverson said.

"I don't think I'm on trial for somebody getting assaulted . . . I think I'm on trial for working my tail off my whole life and because I'm financially stable enough to take care of my kids and my wife.

"I think I'm here because I worked all my life to get where I'm at and they want to become rich overnight," he said. "I'm just a target. It's not about justice being served."

Iverson's co-defendant is Jason Kane, a sometimes-member of his security team. It is alleged that Kane and others took the lead in clearing out the VIP area of Eyebar in Washington when Iverson

arrived one night, and that the assaults followed when plaintiffs Marlin Godfrey and David Anthony Kittrell declined to leave. Along the way, according to their testimony, there were punches and kicks and thrown bottles and drinking glasses.

They claim that Iverson hit somebody with a bottle, but mostly just watched as his friends went to work. They say he stood on a couch in the VIP area and "smirked" as the assaults began, and that he "laughed" at a final assault before getting into his Bentley.

Iverson denied it all, and said he never saw Kane hit anybody that night. He said, "It was just getting rowdy. There was some kind of altercation. Girls were running, guys were backing up . . . "

Iverson said Kane grabbed him and they left "within seconds." Talking in

general about altercations, he said, "I get away from them. I don't want to get hurt."

Amid all of the denying, though, there was plenty of what makes A.I., well, A.I. The small courtroom was packed with about 80 people, most of them court employees seeking a peek at a star and his predicament. Consider: Iverson has to be the first guy in American jurisprudential history forced to sit in the witness stand and watch as an episode of the MTV show "Punk'd" was shown to the jurors.

It was an episode where he was kept out of his own birthday party because - all part of the prank - an actor pretending to be one of President Bush's daughters was attending and actors portraying the Secret Service were getting in the way.

No, Iverson didn't laugh at any of host Ashton Kutcher's jokes, or at the episode in general, which was designed to show the jury the aggressive nature of Iverson's security people. Neither was he all that happy to be talking about his since-ended career as a rapper, and his rapper persona, Jewelz. At one point, he was asked to peruse the lyrics from "40 Bars," the never-released song with the guns-and-ho's words that he wrote and that caused NBA commissioner David Stern to suggest an end to his musical endeavors in 2000.

"I don't try to project a persona - I am what I am," is what Iverson told plaintiff's attorney Gregory L. Lattimer at one point.

Not a rapper?

"I used to be a rapper," he said.

Until?

"When David Stern stopped me from being Jewelz," Iverson said.

Stopped you?

"Jewelz is gone," he said.

Gone?

"Jewelz died," he said.

And the music?

"The music died with him," Iverson said.

But the image remains. You wonder how the jury will fit it into the equation when it decides which testimony to believe. You wonder about a lot of things. Another

lawsuit, involving a different club at a

different time, but with the same general allegations - that is, Iverson's posse-gone-wild - has been filed and is working its way through the system.

And if that one gets to trial, they will all come for a peek at that one, too. To see, well, what?

"He's kind of short," said one guy in the back row, to no one in particular. *

Send e-mail to hofmanr@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/hofmann.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|