Thanks to the media and the NBA sabotaging his career since the Nuggets were swept in the playoffs by the Lakers in 2008, Allen Iverson left the Memphis Grizzlies today. It's appalling how they can change the uninformed casual fans' perception of a superstar.
NBA is a business. It's time to stop pretending otherwise. Teams have no loyalty and qualms when cutting or benching long-time contributors after one down year, so why should the player take a discount to remain with a team? A lot of fans seem to favor management over the players' interest. This double standard is appalling.
My problem with all the Allen Iverson bashing by the media (and to a lesser extent theTerrrell Owens bashing by the media in the NFL) is the double standard applied by these so-called experts. Iverson should never come off the bench in his career just like Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki will remain starters for the rest of their careers. PERIOD. Arguing any of them should come off the bench later on in their careers is ludicrous. It doesn't matter how old he is.
Allen Iverson does not deserve this. He should not be fighting for a starting spot. Vince Carter was handed the starting spot with the Magic. Hey, Ryan Anderson has way more potential than Mike Conley will ever have. Baron Davis had a horrible year last year, but no one is saying he should be a sixth man. Hell, Mo Williams made the all-star team last year with worse numbers than Iverson. Zach Randolph is automatically given a starting spot with the Grizz. No one has argued Shaq should be benched in favor of Ilgauskas, despite the fact that Ilgauskas has been with the Cavs forever. The idea of Jason Kidd coming off the bench is never brought up either. Even Ben Wallace, who is obviously washed up, is a starter again. Oh and the ancient Grant Hill is starting as well. All of them are worst players than Iverson. The numbers don't lie. Iverson had arguably his most efficient season in 2008. Averaging more than 25 points per game, 7 assists, shot 45% from the field, and drew a ton of fouls. Even last season, Detroit was rolling with him and Rip starting in the backcourt (#4 team in the East while beating the Lakers,Cavs, and numerous top teams) before the whole idiotic "man-crush" with Rodney Stuckey began.
Something is not right here. It is obvious that David Stern and the media are desperately undermining and marginalizing the '90s superstars, namely Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tracy McGrady (and to a lesser extent Andre Miller, Larry Hughes, Michael Redd, Corey Maggette, Stephen Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley, Stephon Marbury, Jerry Stackhouse, Wally Szczerbiak, Ricky Davis, etc). The media loves to play along. David Stern wants to make the league revolves around LeBron James vs. Kobe Bryant. He also wants to give primetime TV games to Chris Paul,Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Brandon Roy, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, OJ Mayo, Joe Johnson, Rodney Stuckey, Rudy Gay, Stephen Curry, and Deron Williams. If he doesn't sabotage the older superstars' careers, he couldn't achieve his goal.
I used to think A.I. was an expiring contract casualty, that the universe would be back in order when he signs a new deal. But that obviously wasn't the case. Shaq is an expiring contract. He is starting. Carlos Boozer, arguably the biggest douchebag in the NBA, is also starting on an expiring contract ahead of Paul Millsap. Rip got his starting job back as mentioned before. Vinsanity got traded and immediately becomes a starter despite being injured. Gilbert Arenas missed two seasons and still got love from the media. Is anyone calling Elton Brand to get benched for Mareese Speights? Isn't Brand hampering Speight's "development"? What about Baron Davis? Back-to-back horrible seasons. Is he "washed up" too?
For those who like to label Iverson as a loser or a cancer, think again. The Nuggets had their franchise best season with Iverson and Melo. They only improved by 3 games after the Iverson-Billups trade, but their seeding jump from #8 to #2 because the West sucked last year aside from the Lakers. If you want to credit Carmelo Anthony for Denver's success, Melo shot at a lower percentage, rebound less, and averaged only 22 points per game after Iverson left compared to 27 points when Iverson was running the show. Yes, they lost Marcus Camby, but Nene and Kenyon Martin were both healthy for the entire seasons. They added defensive toughness with Chris Andersen,Dahntay Jones, and Renaldo Balkman. Obviously, Billups' stabilizing influence is an upgrade over Anthony Carter. All of these jugglings added up to only three freaking wins. If anything, Carmelo should've been traded. Linas Kleiza was a beast filling in for Anthony. He's now playing in Europe. It just shows you how the league works. A Billups-Iverson backcourt would've been sick. Kleiza was a rising star plus you can fetch some pretty decent talents for Anthony.
As for the situation in Detroit, many people forgot that the Pistons was 23-13 with Iverson and Rip Hamilton starting in the back court. An untimely injury to Rip made Joe Dumars' fantasy came true. His whole thing of trading Billups was an excuse to put his man-crush Rodney Stuckey in the starting lineup. Stuckey obviously sucks. He is not a point guard. He has no jumpshot. He doesn't draw fouls. After Rip came back, he was benched. Needless to say he started pouting. It was already bad enough that they traded his best friend, Billups right after Rip signed an extension. His teammates obviously got his back. If it could've happened to Rip, it could happen to any of them. At the same time, Stuckey was stinking it up. He had one good game when Rip was hurt, but then everybody starting going ga-ga over him. (Kleiza scored 41 points whenMelo was hurt. No one was calling him to replace Melo.) Michael Curry and the media successfully made it an argument between Rip and A.I. while refusing to bash or bench Stuckey one bit. Curry even tried a three-guard lineup that further doomed their season. The truth is Will Bynum should've been starting ahead of Stuckey. The rest is well-documented. Iverson left the team after Rip replaced him in the starting lineup. The veterans on the team: Tayshaun Prince, Rip, and Rasheed Wallace quit on the team because Curry lost them by disrespecting Rip. Rasheed, like Iverson, went home to nurse an "injury".
By that time, the media has successfully portrayed Iverson as a team-killer, coach-killer, and cancer that no one remembers he had his most efficient season just the year before. It didn't help that the Nuggets were #2 in the west despite only a slight improvement in overall record. No one noticed the incompetent play of Carmelo Anthony last season.
That negative perception continued to eat at Iverson. He couldn't find a suitor to his liking. No one is willing to give him a chance to do when he had been doing in Philly and Denver. Many are insisting that he should be a sixth man. Why should he? Pistons sabotaged his career and now he should be a sixth man? Are you kidding me?
Iverson was allegedly promised a chance to compete for a starting spot with the Grizzlies during training camp. Why else would he sign? But he missed the entire preseason due to injury. He came back after missing 3 regular season games. He clearly outplayed both Mike Conley and OJ Mayo, yet he still languished on the bench. If you were him, wouldn't you be pissed? Lionel Hollins obviously holds a grudge against Iverson, or maybe he has been reading too many sports columns who are friendly with David Stern. They want to drive Iverson out of the NBA. They want to see the representative of the post-Jordan era gone for good. I don't believe in most conspiracy theories, but this seems like a concentrated effort. People who hate Iverson all along: racists and just people who don't like his style, are way too happy to jump in the fray.Hollins also clearly has a man-crush on Mike Conley, who will never amount to anything. He should be in the D-League for f*ck's sake. They traded away Kyle Lowry in February because Conley was getting outplayed by Lowry. Wow. Good job, Grizz.
My point is that Iverson should never been benched. But like Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels said, "if you tell a lie and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." That's what the media and the NBA have been planting in our heads the last year: the whole bullshit about A.I. having to come off the bench, the whole idea that A.I. is washed up.
I am a long-time fan since '95 and have been a huge A.I. fan since he was at Georgetown but if A.I.'s career ends like this, I will NEVER watch the NBA again. If it could happen to A.I., it could happen to any superstar that you and me love.