Iverson, Carmelo Will Win Denver a Championship

Zander FreundSenior Writer IDecember 20, 2006

IconAllen Iverson is one of the best players in the history of the NBA.
That's not a bold statement.  He's lead the league in scoring four times, steals thrice, and gotten a team to the finals who had no business being there.  He has played through injuries more than any of his contemporaries, and regularly battles on a court filled with giants despite the fact that he is a modest 5'10" (listed at 6'0").

Hall of Fame caliber?  Without question.  Top 20 of all time?  The argument is there.
Everybody with half a brain knows how good of a player Allen Iverson is, and how much his ten-year stint in Philly meant to the 76ers.  Furthermore, we, the fans of the NBA, have had the privilege of watching this gift from God play basketball—one crossover at a time.

And yet, for whatever reason, there are number of folks out there who have always insisted that Iverson is overrated.

As Iverson is one of my favorite basketball players in recent memory, I have always attempted to deflect this criticism by pointing to the fact that a team cannot win a championship with one star player.  After all, Jordan never won a title without Pippen, Bird never won without McHale or Parish, Magic never won without Kareem or Worthy, and Shaq never won without Kobe or DWade.  Say what you want about Chris Webber or Jerry Stackhouse, but you're going to have a hard time convincing any rational person that they are comparable to the likes of Scottie Pippen, James Worthy, or Kobe Bryant. 

But that's not enough for the Iverson haters; they insist that unlike MJ or Shaq Daddy, Iverson would never be able to play alongside another star.  For—so the logic goes—Iverson is perhaps the most selfish player in the history of the game.  To these naysayers, the fact that AI has averaged over seven assists per game in four different seasons is irrelevant; the simple fact, for them, is that The Answer cannot function in an offense where he is not the only focal point.

Unfortunately, for both those who love and those who hate AI, this debate has so far been irresolvable.  I've been waiting years for the Sixers to bring a superstar to Philly, in hopes that AI could put an end once and for all to any allegations that he is not a team player.  But as the Sixers have been unable to arrange such a deal in his ten-year career, the Iverson-championship dilemma is essentially a chicken and egg question.  Is Iverson to blame for his lack of a championship ring, or has he never been given a fair chance at a title?
Watching AI toil away year-in and year-out for the Sixers, while entertaining, has also been quite a saddening experiencing for me.  The idea that Iverson would never get a chance to prove his true worth surely didn't promise a fitting fate to a man who had made such a great sacrifice to his organization, and was enough to make one question whether there is indeed justice in the world of sports.

But yesterday, two very interesting things happened. First, ESPN reported that Iverson was being traded to the Nuggets for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and two first-round picks.  And then, upon hearing the news, I completely soiled my brand new pants.

Finally an answer to the questions surrounding The Answer!  And what a star to play with—Carmelo Anthony, the league's leading scorer.  With AI in Denver, we shall finally see whether or not he is capable of sharing the ball with another star talent.  More importantly, with Iverson and Carmelo playing together—along with the help of Marcus Camby, Earl Boykins, Kenyon Martin, and J.R. Smith—the Nuggets are legitimate contenders in the West.  It would be premature to expect them to advance very far in the playoffs this year against the likes of San Antonio, Dallas, and Phoenix, but mark my words: Within the next three years, this team will win a championship.  You can quote me on that.

Think I'm wrong?  Only time will tell.  One thing's for sure though: Things just got a whole lot more interesting in the debate about Allen Iverson and his place in NBA history.