N E W Y O R K, Oct. 13, 2000 -- After meeting with Allen Iverson, NBACommissioner David Stern does not plan to fine or suspend thePhiladelphia guard for recording a rap album with controversiallyrics.
Iverson agreed Thursday to take steps to eliminate the mostoffensive words from the final version of his album.
“The lyrics that have been attributed to Allen Iverson’ssoon-to-be-released rap CD are coarse, offensive and anti-social,”Stern said in a strongly worded statement. “However, I have cometo understand, unfortunately, that certain rap artists regularlyspew such lyrics to a wide audience at great profit to some ofAmerica’s most successful entertainment companies.
“Notwithstanding the music’s wide popularity, Allen, by evenrecording his lyrics, has done a disservice to himself, thePhiladelphia 76ers, his teammates and perhaps all NBA players.However, I do not believe that the NBA should be in the business ofregulating artistic expression, no matter how repugnant,” Sternsaid.
Change in Stance by Iverson
Stern’s statement said Iverson had made a commitment toeliminate the offensive lyrics, which include violent referencesand derogatory terms about gays, women and blacks.
A players union official who accompanied Iverson to the meetingsaid Iverson had already changed some of the lyrics prior tomeeting with Stern.
“If he doesn’t follow through on that commitment, then he,along with the 76ers and the NBA, will merit whatever criticism maybe leveled at us,” Stern said.
By agreeing to eliminate some of the lyrics, Iverson made adeparture from his earlier stance. After a meeting with civilrights groups earlier this week, Iverson said he would not changeany 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 ispeppered with references to women, blacks and gays and contains thefollowing lyric: “Man enough to pull a gun, be man enough tosqueeze it.”
The song ends with the lyrics played over the sounds of a gunbeing cocked and fired.
“Everything in the album people are going to think isoffensive, but I can assure you that the people out there picketingand protesting before, they’re out there doing it for no reason,”Iverson said.
“I don’t want an apology after it’s all over, butthe world will find out those people were wrong for picketing aboutsomething I didn’t do or I didn’t say.”