After meeting with Allen Iverson, NBA Commissioner David Stern does not plan to fine or suspend the Philadelphia guard for recording a rap album with controversial lyrics.
Iverson agreed Thursday to take steps to eliminate the most offensive words from the final version of his album.
“The lyrics that have been attributed to Allen Iverson’s soon-to-be-released rap CD are coarse, offensive and anti-social,” Stern said in a strongly worded statement. “However, I have come to understand, unfortunately, that certain rap artists regularly spew such lyrics to a wide audience at great profit to some of America’s most successful entertainment companies.
“Notwithstanding the music’s wide popularity, Allen, by even recording his lyrics, has done a disservice to himself, the Philadelphia 76ers, his teammates and perhaps all NBA players. However, I do not believe that the NBA should be in the business of regulating artistic expression, no matter how repugnant,” Stern said.
Change in Stance by Iverson
Stern’s statement said Iverson had made a commitment to eliminate the offensive lyrics, which include violent references and derogatory terms about gays, women and blacks.
A players union official who accompanied Iverson to the meeting said Iverson had already changed some of the lyrics prior to meeting with Stern.
“If he doesn’t follow through on that commitment, then he, along with the 76ers and the NBA, will merit whatever criticism may be leveled at us,” Stern said.
By agreeing to eliminate some of the lyrics, Iverson made a departure from his earlier stance. After a meeting with civil rights groups earlier this week, Iverson said he would not change any lyrics.
The album is due out in February; an edited version of one rap, “40 Bars,” was released to radio stations this week. The song is peppered with references to women, blacks and gays and contains the following lyric: “Man enough to pull a gun, be man enough to squeeze it.”
The song ends with the lyrics played over the sounds of a gun being cocked and fired.
“Everything in the album people are going to think is offensive, but I can assure you that the people out there picketing and protesting before, they’re out there doing it for no reason,” Iverson said.
“I don’t want an apology after it’s all over, but the world will find out those people were wrong for picketing about something I didn’t do or I didn’t say.”