We don't like to see superstars hang on too long, stumbling and fumbling through the twilight of their careers. We don't like to look at their diminished abilities and reflect on the daunting athleticism of yesteryear. We don't like to watch younger players who aren't nearly as good take advantage of old legends past their prime.
But it happens because some great athletes are addicted to the game, money and fame, and can't imagine anything filling that void. That seems to be the case with Allen Iverson, the former Philadelphia Sixers great. Once a brazen poster child for hip-hop and defiance, Iverson now is humbled and hungry, asking for another shot in the NBA.
"I'll play for anybody," he told Yahoo! Sports.
He's 36 years old and has played just 88 NBA games since the 2007-08 season, plagued in part by personal issues. There were no takers for his services last season, so he headed to Turkey, where a leg injury shortened his stay.
That appeared to be the end for the future Hall of Famer, especially since he has chafed at being a reserve player. But not anymore.
"Obviously, [teams] might have some issues thinking I don't want to help a team in a certain capacity," Iverson said. "But that's over with. All that was going on through an emotional time. It cost me to not play. I'm just willing to help any squad in any capacity. Hopefully, one squad will believe in me and we will go from there."
Iverson is organizing a two-day tournament in Las Vegas to prove he's still got game, though the event is likely to be canceled if the NBA lockout ends first.
With no serious offers in the U.S. or overseas, amid reports of financial trouble, you wonder if Iverson will land among the estimated 60 percent of NBA players who are broke within five years of retirement. That's not the case with Magic Johnson or Junior Bridgman, a successful restaurant franchisee, but it's hard to envision Iverson following that path.
It might pain us to watch former greats refuse to exit gracefully, but they might as well go down kicking and screaming.
Because when it's over, it's over for good.
"I'm not going to let it end like this, and I don't want it to end like this," Iverson said. "My first step is doing everything I have to do to get back to that [NBA] level. But if that's something that God doesn't want from me, then that's that."