There's No "I"-verson In Team
Back in the summer of 2004, shortly after the Detroit Pistons won the NBA Championship, I went to a local sporting goods store and purchased a pair of basketball shoes.
These shoes were endorsed by one Chauncey Billups, and they were the shoes he wore while he played.
Every time I geared up to play ball, the C-Bill's enveloped my feet.
No, they weren't the most comfortable shoes, and for the first few months I had countless blisters on my heels, but they got the job done. I wasn't going to abandon my favorite kicks.
Last October, I was hooping at the local high school, and I noticed something felt wrong with my shoes. After a few games I inspected the shoes and noticed that there was a gaping hole in the bottom of the right foot.
I was devastated.
Flash forward to a week later, November 4th. I had the day off, and I woke up to a text message from my buddy Mat: "Chauncey traded to Denver for AI."
What? Mat is the type of guy who would try to pull my leg about this kind of stuff, so I figured he was just messing with me. Naturally, I turned on ESPN to see if there was any news of this.
I texted Mat back, confused and a little upset.
Then I saw it. It was true. Mat was right.
After the Pistons were eliminated in last year's playoffs, Joe Dumars promised that changes would be made. As the summer progressed, Flip Saunders was the only one to go. There were no significant changes with the roster.
This season started off well, like it has for the past decade. Then, just two games into the season, the trade was made.
Detroit is not a team known for having a superstar. Even back to the Isaiah Thomas days, team play was valued over individual accomplishments.
So why would we trade Billups, the ultimate team player, for Allen Iverson, a supreme talent, but never known for his all-around team play?
The words "salary dump" floated around. How can you look at Mr. Big Shot as merely a number? I guess sometimes we forget that this is a business.
Anyway, the Pistons still had most of their nucleus in tact, and rumors that McDyess wanted to come back made it a little easier to swallow.
I was a little interested to see how Iverson would fit in. In Philadelphia, everything was about him. The offense ran through him. In Denver, he was playing next to another superstar in Carmelo Anthony and everyone wondered if there were enough shots to go around.
In Detroit, the offense wasn't going to run through him. He was going to have to learn how to get him points in the flow of the offense. I figured that since he was hungry for a title, he would do what it took to make this work.
Well, weeks went by, and he never adjusted. Rip Hamilton, the captain, accepted his role coming off the bench so that Iverson could start.
The Pistons were hovering around .500 and things were in disarray. Then Iverson had to sit with an injury, and the team looked like its old self for a stretch. The offense flowed and they were looking like a team again.
Recently, Coach Michael Curry stated that when Iverson came back from his injury, he would come off of the bench. You would think a guy who is trying to fit in would accept this role and do anything to help the team.
But no, he wasn't comfortable coming off the bench. He couldn't "do his thing." That is the type of selfishness that equates to a losing basketball team. We don't need it here in Detroit.
Joe Dumars has since shut down Iverson for the remainder of the regular and post season. My question to him, what took you so long?
I tried everything I could to repair that hole in my shoe. I tried duct tape, I even tried wearing an extra pair of socks, but nothing I did could repair the hole in my shoe.
And nothing can repair the hole that was left when Chauncey left this franchise. Nothing.
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