These days I’d just as soon play a NBA video game than watch a NBA basketball game. I don’t have a favorite team though I have a sentimental attraction to the Philadelphia 76ers.
What I do enjoy is watching certain players. Guys like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Dwight Howard and the little big man, Allen Iverson.
The thing is unlike James, Wade and Howard, three young players whom are just entering their prime, A.I. is on the downstroke. He’s bounced around from the Sixers to the Denver Nuggets to now the Detroit Pistons, in what is the unhappiest and least productive season of his 13-year career.
The problem is Iverson, the guy with the ankle-breaking crossover who fearlessly threw his body around, thinks he’s still an elite player. He is. But only for short bursts of time. The rest of the time he’s holding on to the ball too long, dribbling too much and not getting his teammates involved as they watch him jack up a bad jumper than clangs off the rim.
Iverson was shut down for the remainder of the season by the Pistons due to a back injury he’s struggled with, but it’s just as likely the team figured they were better off not dealing with the distraction of a aging superstar who had publicly declared his unhappiness with coming off the bench.
After a 111-98 loss on April 2 to the absolutely awful New Jersey Nets, Iverson said about his new role as a sixth man, “I won’t do this again in my career. I’ll retire before I do this again. I would leave the game before I’d do this because I can’t be effective like I know I can (by) playing this way. ”
“It’s just that I’m not used to it. It’s just not someting that I’ve ever been able or had to do.”
Immediately, the same haters who have always hated Iverson because they didn’t like his tattoos, didn’t like the way he spoke, didn’t like the way he dressed and didn’t like the way he played jumped up and said he was being “selfish.”
Some nobody named Mike Perry wrote on his blog, “The NBA will be a better place if Allen Iverson retires after this year.”
“The Detroit Pistons knew what they were getting this year when they traded Chauncey Billups to the Denver Nuggets. They didn’t acquire Allen Iverson. They acquired his expiring contract. Allen Iverson’s expiring contract is worth more than Allen Iverson. When Iverson becomes a free agent this summer, he will quickly find out his services are not wanted anymore in the NBA. There is not one contending team or playoff team that will sign him.”
“He is a cancer. He is a plague.”
I have a sister and sister-in-law that have both fought cancer and I really don’t appreciate idiots who throw that word around casually and where it doesn’t apply. I feel the same way about stupid sportscasters and jack-ass jocks who call their games, “war” and other gross exaggerations like that.
Who says no playoff or contending team wouldn’t sign Allen Iverson? Is The Answer the answer for a team like the Celtics or the Spurs? Probably not. But for a team that lacks a dynamic scorer and a player who can still put fannies in empty seats in NBA arenas, A.I. could be exactly what they’re looking for.
Don’t tell me talent-starved dead zones like the Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves wouldn’t happily pay A.I. Maybe not $20 million a season for a beat-up 34-year old shooting guard in a point guard’s body, but the dirty little secret of the NBA is there are a lot of teams that don’t have much talent or any reason to watch them.
Most of the teams that do make the playoffs won’t be there for long. They’re just there as speed bumps for the likes of the Lakers, Cavaliers or Celtics. Nobody is expecting to see the Chicago Bulls last very long or go very far. If nothing else Iverson sells tickets and never underestimate how important selling tickets are.
I don’t know if Iverson is being selfish or not. I had dinner with a couple of friends this week and they double-teamed me until I finally admitted that even if Iverson is on the down escalator he’s still better than Rodney Stuckey who is starting at point guard for the Pistons.
All n’ all, the Pistons and Iverson were just a bad fit. They were just looking to rent him for one season and then dump his contract and free up cap space. I saw a few games where Iverson was feeding the ball to his teammates and trying to set them up. Of course, I also saw him jack up some lousy shots, dribble the ball down to 22 seconds and make some half-hearted attempts at playing defense. Nothing new about that. He’d done the exact same thing with the Sixers and Nuggets.
I fully expect to see Iverson in the NBA next season and starting for somebody. Even in decline, he’s still more exciting and entertaining than some of the has-beens, never-weres and never-will-be’s running the backcourt of NBA franchises.
I also expect the haters who have always hated everything about The Answer to keep hating. It’s what they do best.