Career averages of 27 points, 6.2 assists, and 2.2 steals per game sounds appealing, right? Well, not when you're talking about Allen "no concept of team play" Iverson.
After a tumultuous one-year stint with Detroit, Iverson enters the offseason as a free agent for the first time in his 13-year career. And after an off-year for the 10-time All-Star, in which he complained about lack of playing time and ruined the Pistons' team chemistry, there isn't much of a market for Iverson.
The Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Bobcats are considered the two teams that are most actively pursuing Iverson. But there is a third—the Miami Heat.
Last week, the Miami Heat announced their interest in Iverson, with AI saying the interest is mutual. And after Wade went public with his demand for scoring help and a roster upgrade, Iverson shot to the top of the Heat's wish list.
"With AI, you look at a guy who is one of the best guys to ever put on an NBA jersey,'' Wade said in a radio interview Monday. "A guy who can still score in the right offense, in the right flow. So you can never turn your nose up at a guy like Allen Iverson. I hear a lot of people that love and want to come to Miami, but it hasn't happened yet.''
Iverson responded to the comments by almost hinting that Miami was his preferred destination.
"The fact that Dwyane is there and Pat Riley has something to do with personnel, it seems like a great situation," Iverson said. "I just want a situation where I can win and be happy. Being that those two guys are there, man, it just seems it'll be a good deal.''
So, now that the interest is mutual and an Iverson-Miami marriage is possible, I have one question: What is Pat Riley thinking?
Was Riley too busy in the front office to notice Iverson's year with the Pistons? Did he happen to see that Iverson refused to come off the bench and act like a child instead of a veteran?
The Miami Heat are an up-and-coming team with a young nucleus that is led by a superstar in Dwyane Wade. While the team certainly needs some veteran leadership, Iverson is not that type of player. He complains, hurts team chemistry, and has a bad attitude. These are all characteristics that are not typical of a Pat Riley-built team.
Of course, there are always reasons behind Riley personnel moves. Just a couple of days ago Wade went public, saying that he will only remain with Miami Heat past next season if the team moves into championship contention. He went as far as to say that simply winning is not enough anymore. He wants to win more championships while he is in the prime of his career. And if the Heat can't offer him that, he is packing his bags.
Also, with many other Eastern Conference teams bolstering their rosters this offseason, Riley feels pressured to make some sort of a move. Vince Carter went to the Magic, Hedo Turkuglu went to the Raptors, Rasheed Wallace signed with the Celtics, and Shaq was traded to the Cavaliers. All the top East teams made moves, which worries Riley and angers Wade.
Riley's goal is to keep Wade content and convince him to sign a contract extension now so he can avoid letting Wade test the open market.
But, Allen Iverson?
Not to take anything away from Iverson's storied career, but he simply isn't fit for a Heat uniform. Iverson has proven himself as someone who can't win because of his selfishness and shoot-first mentality. With Wade being the go-to guy in Miami, how can the two stars co-exist? If that's not enough, look to the saying "history repeats itself."
Back in the 2006 season, when Iverson was traded to Denver, expectations were high. The duo of AI and Carmelo Anthony was supposed to be dynamic, a duo that would push them into championship contention.
But instead of becoming title contenders, they fell into mediocrity. Iverson ended up getting dealt to the Pistons, and in the blink of an eye the Nuggets became an elite Western Conference team, while the Pistons plummeted to the eighth seed.
Iverson has never won a championship and has only gotten close to it once (2001). Even in the prime of his career, he never had what it took to be a champion. His ego always got in the way.
While I understand Riley's motives for wanting an immediate upgrade, there are still other dilemmas.
How about Miami's emerging point guard Mario Chalmers? Chalmers started at point guard in all 82 games of his rookie year and showed glimpses of greatness. If the Heat signed AI, wouldn't that hamper Chalmers growth? Who would come off the bench? We have already seen Iverson complain about a bench role, saying he'd "rather retire than come off the bench."
All in all, Iverson is still a great player and has game left in the tank. On the right team with the right amount of playing time, Iverson could still put up big scoring numbers. But is the Miami Heat the right team for the aging guard?
If signing Iverson keeps Dwyane Wade happy, then I am all for it. While I personally think it's a bad idea, maybe Iverson will fit in with the team. Maybe Pat Riley's resume and reputation will bring Iverson down a few notches and he can put his ego aside.
Also, Riley intends on making no long-term deals until Wade commits, so signing Iverson to a one-year deal wouldn't be too dangerous.
If Riley's resume can calm down Iverson, and if Wade stays happy, and Chalmers and Iverson find a way to play together, then I am all for an Iverson to South Beach deal.