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Sunday, July 21, 2002

Iverson's popularity is sadly persistent

Let us pray.

Allen Iverson stuff is the biggest seller at stores and nearly every other place with sports paraphernalia. Jerseys. Sneakers. Anything that has a No. 3 and the 76ers' colors.

"The next closest in sales are items involving Shaq and Kobe, but Iverson items outsell those two guys by a bunch," said Anthony Ziliamon, 31, a manager of the Kids Foot Locker store in Greenbriar Mall.

So, not surprisingly, Reebok officials say they haven't a problem with Iverson, owner of a lifetime contract with the company that pays him $10 million annually. According to a statement from Reebok, "We firmly believe that Allen will be vindicated, and Reebok, along with his millions of fans, will still be standing with him when he is." Among those applauding Reebok's statement are 76ers officials, who also are squeezing Iverson tightly these days. They had a record 25 home sellouts last season, and this is a franchise that once featured the likes of Dr. J, Charles Barkley and Moses Malone.

In other words, if you're into selling your integrity for the sake of stuffing your wallet, Iverson definitely is The Answer.TERENCE MOORE

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tour de France defies today's safety logic

Despite the occasional tragedy, most recently the death of the little boy who darted into the path of a vehicle on the Bazas-Pau stage, the Tour de France offers a myriad of daily miracles.

There is no way the Tour should work in the modern world, but somehow it does.

So, is the Tour really safe from terrorists, or the lone nut case? Hardly. Access control for 95 percent of the route is virtually nonexistent.

While hoping for the best. The odds overwhelmingly favor bad news every minute of every hour of every day the Tour-ists pedal down the road -- never mind afterward when the real chaos begins. That more catastrophes don't occur seems the best reason to think Lance's luck can hold out. DALE ROBERTSON

Houston Chronicle

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