Allen Iverson is on the last leg of the 2012 China Legends Tour, a six city, seven game exhibition tour that has featured Iverson, Clyde Drexler, Dennis Rodman and some D-Leaguers as they’ve traveled around to play Stephon Marbury and the Beijing Ducks and some other Chinese teams. It’s been a big hit with fans and with media, both of whom have been running wild with the idea of A.I. potentially playing professional ball in China next year, a scenario that some teams are apparently interested in realizing.
What happens with that will be settled another day, however. For now, the main focus is finishing up these last two games in the tour’s last city and making it safely back to the comforts of the United States.
That last leg, however, happens to be Taiyuan, Shanxi province. The city is well-known within Chinese basketball for a few reasons: It’s where Marbury got his start in the CBA. It’s where Jim Yardley wrote his book about the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons and their eccentric owner, Boss Wang. It’s where fans throw water bottles and lighters onto the court at the sound of a blown whistle. It’s also where they block opposing teams’ buses, hurl bricks at it and accuse former players (Marbury) of beating down its fans.
Luckily, Iverson and company likely won’t have to deal with the latter two during their stay. After Michael Jordan and possibly Kobe Bryant, A.I. is easily the most popular all-time NBAer in China. During the trip, he has been met by flocks of fans who wait at airports, hotels, restaurants, promotional events and stadiums with the hope that they can catch a glimpse of their beloved Answer.
At the Taiyuan airport today though, Iverson was greeted by some fans who wanted a little more than a glimpse…
Here’s the rest of the scene at the airport (and some more of this woman in the Yankees cap):
In Taiyuan’s defense, I’m sure there’s been other fans in other cities who are just like this. Well, except maybe the “I wanna have kids with you” sign. That’s just weird.