Saturday, November 28, 2009

Unless Iverson changes, he's not a good fit for any team


ON BASKETBALL

Not to brag, but since I'm rarely right about things, just an average American writing my opinions, I must do a little ego-boosting...

When Allen Iverson signed with the Grizzlies this summer, I forecast a failed marriage in Memphis. I didn't foresee such a quick divorce, but I can't say I was overly shocked when the stubborn guard and the awful franchise parted ways just a few games into the season.

So there.

Iverson, apparently, never sat down with the Memphis coaching staff prior to the season, never thought he'd be coming off the bench. This despite the fact that the Grizzlies have a factory full of young guards they're aimlessly trying to develop.

Hmmm...

So when AI found himself coming off the pine — behind, gasp, players 10 years his younger — he, and his enormous ego, couldn't take it. He cut ties with the Grizzlies and began searching for his next ill-fated suitor.

When the Knicks, smartly (yes, the Knicks actually made a smart personnel decision besides dumping all their talent and hoping, praying, that LeBron will join their minefield rotation next summer) passed on the Answer, he discovered that no other team was instantly interested in him.

So, naturally, he "retired," which, basically, means he got desperate. His retirement statement read more like a resume, stating that Iverson still had plenty left in the tank and and thought he could still play at the NBA's top level.

Which brings us to the present, with the 76ers reportedly not ruling out signing their former star for a second stint to help out an injury-riddled backcourt.

I've got three elementary words for Philly management: Don't do it.

This isn't to say that bringing back the Answer would be an utter failure. He would, after all, actually help the 76ers sell tickets — and, man, have they been horrific in that department this season, filling a league-worst 58 percent of their arena. Iverson, it can't be disputed, will attract fans. He's always been good at that.

But he's never been good at being a team player, never been much of a winner. Sure, he "took" the 76ers to the 2001 Finals, but only because his teammates played incredible defense despite getting constantly ignored on the offensive end.

Anyone who thinks Iverson can start for a championship team need only watch tape of his last three (short) tenures in Denver, Detroit and Memphis. In Denver, he never worked to gain a chemistry with Carmelo Anthony and his teammates, and the Nuggets couldn't get out of the first round despite having the league's top two scorers. Look what they're doing now with Chauncey Billups in the backcourt.

In Detroit, AI helped create an absolute mess (with a big assist from not-ready-to-be-a-head-coach Michael Curry). And in Memphis, well, we already went over that. Not good.

Now if Iverson could change and be willing to come off the bench and play 15-20 minutes a game, he could be a valuable commodity for a championship contender. Other teams, for the most part, wouldn't be able to bring such an explosive offensive player off the bench. He could stop droughts, start runs, ignite teams.

But forget that, because it isn't happening.

Sadly, Iverson is too stubborn for his own good. He talks about winning championships, but doesn't realize what it takes to make them happen. Heck, he doesn't even sign with teams that have a chance at such glory. Instead, he wants the minutes, he wants the spotlight, he wants the stats. 

That's the only conclusion I can weave from his actions.

And if that's really the case, then maybe he ought to consider going somewhere else, to another league.

Or he can continue to wait for that NBA team that has no interest in winning this year and developing young players, but rather just wants to sell tickets.

The Knicks sure seemed like the best bet for that. They said no. 

I don't think this is the end, but the Answer sure isn't painting a pretty legacy in his twilight years.