Iverson Has the "It" To Turn Philly Around
Before I start making a case, forgive me for gloating just a moment.
Did I not call it? Seriously. Read the date and read the last sentence.
Allen Iverson has probably gone through the most trying week of his NBA career. I am, by no stretch, an apologist for Allen Iverson. I am merely someone who has read more about him, watched more of his game footage and his interviews in the past few days than anyone should ever do their entire life. And I feel for him.
Iverson is a soldier, first and foremost. He has a competitive drive on the court comparable to that of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, but he has more than just a will to win—he has a passion for the game, unlike anything the game has seen before.
It is this passion that lead Eddie Jordan to compare Iverson to Brett Favre, saying they have similar situations, and saying that it is entirely possible that Iverson have an "MVP year."
He is as honest a man as they come, and perhaps his outspokenness has turned off the sports media. They call him, the man with a higher APG average than Kobe or LeBron in his last complete season, a ball-hog.
He said he doesn't need a ring to complete his legacy, because A.I. understands more about the game than his compatriots. An NBA ring is for those blessed with the talent, the coaching, and a little bit of luck that goes with winning a championship.
In a country where at least acting like you're a team player is valued more than self-motivation and is enough to get you good press, he is everything we want to hate about ourselves but can't, because we can't identify "it." He is the NBA's first genuine-article badass, and he has the ability to knock some of these doubting pundits on their behind.
Allen Iverson, at age 34, has more basketball in him than 95 percent of the basketball world will ever have. It's because Iverson, (who admitted in an interview with Stephen A. Smith that football was his first sport) loves the game, first and foremost. He loves it to death, and thinks it's so obvious that everyone should know it already, and that discussing it is pointless.
So Allen Iverson sees the game of basketball as a war, and he wants to go to war with soldiers. If they are not going to be soldiers, if they refuse to dive for loose balls and do what it takes to win, he will make them soldiers. He is a general, and Philadelphia, for all intents and purposes, is his capital city.
Philadelphia is sorely missing one thing from its game: leadership.
Andre Iguodala may be one of the more competent all-around players in the league, but his team looks like they're playing on old legs. Elton Brand's athleticism looks half-assed, Samuel Dalembert is talented but looks lost during games.
This is a very capable squad under-performing to disastrous results. Iverson has the passion to bring back glory to his city, to make Dalembert and Brand grab boards, to make Iguodala stop turning the ball over, and to shoulder some of the scoring load while making plays.
Philadelphia feels his passion already. Ticket sales have gone up. Philly, up there with Boston on the list of "craziest sports cities in the world," was sagging in attendance this year. Something to the tune of less than 12,000 seats being filled per game. With seats starting to sell out quickly, many Philly fans must remember how exciting Iverson was to watch just four years ago.
And so, in Philadelphia at least, Iverson's return is being heralded like Napoleon's Hundred Days. One can only hope the public relations and media hasn't gotten to him, and he is able to walk away from the game on his own terms without meeting his Waterloo.
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