Christmas has come early for many NBA franchises this off season, acquiring needs or substantial wants to help them get better than they were before. But what about the teams that are not expected to get better, huh. What do they just go through the motions and let it be. Or do they go out and try to coerce guys that may be perceived "out of their league" to become part of their team. That seems to be the case with the talks that link perennial All-Star and future Hall of Famer Allen Iverson with the Memphis Grizzlies. While many people see this as a stupid move on both ends, I will tell you why this is beneficial for not only Allen Iverson or the Grizzlies, but for the city of Memphis.
First off, the Grizzlies need a sure fire superstar to get people actually excited about seeing the team. In the early days of their move to the Bluff City, they were able to sustain a fan base based on the excitement of a pro team in the Mid-South as well as the young players on the roster. Over the years, they have tried to just get by with acquiring mid tier guys who were role players where they were who could start for the Grizzlies. That is not going to cut it now. There should be noted that a real problem will incur when a college team is more popular than a pro team in an area. That is the case with the Memphis Tigers, who are the heartbeat of the city and the region. The Tigers have tasted success, and now the Grizzlies need to do so as well. This coming year will be a down year, so it is the perfect time to cut into the loyalties of the U of M fan base.
For Allen Iverson, it is a chance to rewrite himself in the twilight of his career. No one has doubted that he is not one of the fifty greatest players in NBA history. What people have questioned is can he lead a team and make them good around him. He has put up points and dished out assists, but has he done them for the good of the team or for the good of his stat sheet? If he comes to Memphis, he will get a chance to either start (he's still better than Mike Conley), or come of the bench to provide a solid scoring threat, helping the franchise's chances against the rest of its tough division, the Southwest. He will only get paid 5 million, but if he can show that he can still lead a team effectively or contribute to the success of a club, he could get offers from anyone he wants next summer.
This last one is to emphasize the importance of an economic boost in the city of Memphis, TN, and how desperately it needs one. The city has not necessarily been hit hard by the latest economic bust in the country, but that is because it has been mired in financial woes for at least the past eight years. The unemployment rate is among the largest in the South, despite having one of the largest job markets for a city of its size in country. Bad investments, misuse of government funds, and incompetence at City Hall has led to the city's horrendous troubles, which has affected the Grizzlies directly. If people are not getting paid, they can't buy game tickets, which means merchandise doesn't get bought and money can't be spent on big name players, which forces them to get involved in trades to help other teams so that those teams can send money back in return. A name like Allen Iverson would get the attention of national media, ensuring the Grizzlies more than just one nationally televised game, and give instant credibility to a hungry franchise. It would also get people to fill the FedEx Forum, something that hasn't happened since their last playoff appearance three years ago.
Having an established NBA superstar who has his own fan base would certainly bring a boost to the Memphis Grizzlies, who would certainly be in need of a name of that caliber, which may attract other big names to the city. The franchise with more money than most others cannot get people here because their is no incentive to go there. Here's hoping that a deal of this magnitude turns around the fortunes of all involved.