First off, let's get something straight here. I am not an Allen Iverson fan despite the fact I rooted for him pretty hard during his Georgetown days (being a huge Alonzo Mourning fan, and all).
The thing is, he got drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, the team I live closest to, but the city I could never ever root for.
So I immediately broke my allegiance with AI and criticized his game every chance I got.
"He's too much of a ball hog."
"There's absolutely no way somebody so inefficient could lead their team to a championship as the alpha dog."
"He's not a great playmaker and only gets assists because he always has the ball in his hands."
"Despite all of those steals, he is not a good defender at all."
I've said all of those things, and wouldn't hesitate to say they are all still true to this day.
Regardless, I'm not only supportive of the Miami Heat signing AI, I'm probably the only person in the world who thinks they should offer him TWO YEARS.
To me, it doesn't make any sense to offer a one year deal. That's basically saying, "We want to try you out, but we really don't think it'll work in the end."
You see, if it does work, they're going to have to pay so much more to keep him than what we could get that second year for right now.
Riley needs to have faith that this decision will really help the team, or he shouldn't be making it at all. If he's only doing it to make Wade happy, then its only going to backfire and make him angrier if it doesn't work.
So the question remains, "Could Iverson thrive in Miami?"
In my opinion, the teams that failed with AI didn't have the right components around him. In Philly and Detroit, he didn't have players who took initiative. They were system guys who were better at finishing plays with wide open shots, rather than playmakers who aggressively went after their points.
When you are playing next to an Iverson (or Dwyane Wade for that matter), you have to take advantage of your opportunities because they can be sporadic. I watched AI's teammates be shy with the ball for years and never understood why they would put those kind of players around him.
And it's why I never understood why people say "There's only one ball" and "There aren't enough shots for everyone". To me, it makes sense to pair "ball hogging" players together since they can score off of broken plays (which will occur more frequently), rather than needing to be set up.
So I'm picturing a Miami team with Wade, Iverson (whether he's starting or not), and Michael Beasley as their go-to guys offensively, and I think it works out marvelously.
Obviously, the offense is going to be based on isolations and little ball movement, which really isn't much different than last year, actually.
The year the Heat won, the Mavericks (who many still claim was the better team) were dead last (or very close to it) in team assists, but their offense was really good.
The thing is Wade, AI, and Beasley are better than Terry, Howard, and Dirk.
Wade's still going to handle the majority of the playmaking, but he won't have the burden of doing it every play like he did last year.
There'll still be plenty of times when Iverson takes control of the offense (most importantly, when Wade's on the bench). But he'll do it a lot with Wade on the court, too.
In those situations, I see Wade doing what he did so successfully with Team USA: roaming the baseline and staying near the corners.
What that does is allow Wade to take his physical and mental breathers while still on the court, still attracting the defense's attention, and opening up things so Iverson and Beasley can do their thing more easily.
And let's not forget about Wade's off the ball instincts that really were lost on offense last year. He has great anticipation for finding open spots when playing off a good ball handler and he's great on the offensive glass when defenses aren't keyed in on him at all times.
So I have a positive outlook when it comes to bringing Allen Iverson to the Miami Heat and I don't want that to be lost when we really try to put a championship contender together in 2010.
Offer AI $3M (against the cap) this year and $5M in 2010 and see if he goes for it. If he does, and he and the team play as well as I think they could, we'd have a very enticing team for other free agents to join.
I mean, if Wade, AI, and Beasley are having a bunch of fun together, don't you think LeBron might want to get in on that action?