Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Allen Iverson is going to officially
retire from the NBA sometime in the next week.
That is according to SLAM and let's not dwell on the fact that Iverson is
three years late to his own retirement party.
In fact, let's not dwell totally on many of the toxic elements of Iverson's
career. They are impossible to ignore, however. They play a massive role in
There was the famous "practice" rant when his work ethic and practice
attendance were questioned. There were multiple arrests and scuffles at night
clubs and casinos.
Iverson also held on far too long. He was extremely productive in Denver, but
his tenure with the Detroit Pistons was not impactful, nor was his brief stint
in Memphis. His return to the Philadelphia 76ers was memorable the night it
happened, but faded in the sunset.
Iverson is certainly not the first professional athlete to stay in the game
past his prime. What made it worse, A.I. could've been a spectacularly
productive bench player late in his career, but he wanted nothing to do with
What became sad (maybe not sad, but insert a word that makes you feel
negatively toward something, or someone) were the reports that Iverson was in
serious financial peril and that his personal life was unraveling. He and his
wife split and allegations of serious alcohol abuse arose. (Read Kent Babb's
story in the Washington Post for details.)
The Answer clearly has none in his life. Iverson has become a cautionary tale,
one that should be heeded by all young professional athletes.
In recent years, his career resumed in Turkey. He joined a team in China and
turned down an offer from the Dallas Mavericks D-League team. Iverson wanted
back into the NBA, but the league didn't reciprocate.
So, as SLAM reports, Iverson has come to the mortal realization that it is
It's easy to remember Iverson for these stories and so many more. He's become
a punch line to some degree and emblematic of the generation of modern
athletes who squander life-altering opportunities.
It's also worth remembering that Iverson's career was much more than horrible
decisions, casinos and alcohol.
For 12 seasons, Iverson was completely indefensible on the basketball court.
He led the NBA in scoring four times, won the MVP in 2001 when he led the
Sixers to an improbable run to the Finals. Iverson made 11 All-Star teams in
his career, but there was more than the numbers.
If you watched Iverson for a second, you saw the most fearless, teetering
on reckless, player in the NBA. He didn't weigh more than the average high-
school junior, and was barely tall enough to play guard at the JV level, but
he was like a missile going to the basket.
In the prime of his career, the first 12 years, Iverson attempted more than
700 free throws in a season five times. He got the royal crap beat out of him
every night and suited up quite a bit for a man with a myriad of injuries,
bundling up in more protective outer wear than a landscaper tearing out a
poison ivy plant.
His career truly changed when Larry Brown came to Philly and flipped off
conventional logic. Despite being listed at 6-feet tall, Brown moved Iverson
to the off guard spot. He was a scorer and that position needed a scorer.
Iverson took the Sixers to the Finals in 2001. They took on the awesome Los
Angeles Lakers, stole Game 1 in Hollywood and it featured one of the most
iconic Iverson images. After draining a long corner jumper, Iverson stepped
over Tyronn Lue. It was classic Iverson. Good try, Tyronn, but that diving
attempt at defense was silly.
And that Sixers team was interesting to say the least. Brown surrounded
Iverson with defensive role players and let Iverson do almost whatever he
wanted on offense. He was the only legitimate scorer.
That led to some criticism that Iverson was selfish. Would you want Iverson
jacking up 25.5 field-goal attempts a night, as he did during that run to the
Eastern Conference championship, or have Eric Snow, Aaron McKie, Dikembe
Mutombo, George Lynch, Jumaine Jones and Tyrone Hill get an even share of
(It's also worth noting, Iverson averaged 6.2 assists per game over his career
and five seasons, averaged more than 7 apg. Pretty solid numbers for one of
the most selfish players of all time.
But, to be fair, he turned it over a ton, as expected with the amount of time
he had the ball in his hands. Also, Iverson was a horrendous man-to-man
defender who couldn't stop my 96-year-old grandmother from getting to the
When you read those names of his supporting cast during the championship run,
it should be easy to marvel at Iverson. Take it a step further and Iverson
had the worst running mates since Ross Perot. Glenn Robinson, Derek Coleman
and Chris Webber were all past their primes and Keith Van Horn was in his
prime, if you feel gutsy enough to call it that.
What we saw on the floor was the best little player of all time. We saw a
magician on the court who had success, a ton individually and moderate amounts
on teams with little help. (He did play with Carmelo Anthony in Denver and
Iverson was still a star.)
We also witnessed a man who galvanized the city of Philadelphia, the champion
of the underdog. We have a Rocky statue at the steps of our art museum.
His style reached millions and has been widely assumed as the cause of the
NBA's dress code changes, which, after much bellyaching early, not one player
has a problem with now.
Thinking of Iverson as a poor, pathetic, broken down athlete with a reported
drinking problem is fair. It's recent and it's sexy. It is what Iverson
Just don't forget the Iverson that was. That Iverson was something to behold.
- Is Allen Iverson a Hall of Famer? Statistically, mortal lock, but that's not
the only factor. All I'll remind you of is this: Dennis Rodman is in the Hall
of Fame. He's been arrested, kicked a defenseless cameraman in the sweet spot,
went to a reality show for alcohol addiction and met with one of the world's
most horrible dictators. Rodman is in the Hall of Fame.
- Chris Paul was elected President of the Players Association. He is the first
superstar in the role since Patrick Ewing a decade prior. When LeBron James
flirted with the position earlier in the month, I wrote it's important for
superstars to be engaged in the labor process. Superstars help not only in
negotiating, but in terms of keeping members united. It's going to be a
difficult job because the union has faced scandal and needs to replace Billy
Hunter as executive director. So, good luck with all of that, Chris.
- I like the Larry Sanders' extension for the Milwaukee Bucks. It was
reportedly four years, $44 million. He's only had one good season, but he's a
defensive beast and that rarely goes away with time.
- Movie moment - Does anyone else envision the actors and actresses behind the
voices in animated movies, actually playing the parts? I do, and if you don't,
well I'm weird. That's my problem with "Cars," which has run on a constant
loop for my son for the better part of two weeks. Sorry, can't buy a
relationship between Owen Wilson and Bonnie Hunt. (You need to find other
things to occupy your time when watching the same thing over and over again.)
- TV moment - Just when I thought the two celebrity diving reality shows were
the sign to grab two of each animal and build a boat, TLC rolled out a show on
Monday. I won't tell you what it's called, but look it up. I feel for the
center piece of the show, but why is that on television?
The Sports Network