As Shaquille O'Neal and Tracy McGrady finish signing new deals with new teams, many are left wondering when and if Allen Iverson will find a team.
Iverson led a long and highly scrutinized career in the NBA. From his many accolades to his off-court woes to his bad-boy image, Iverson and his baggy jeans have become a household name.
People argue nowadays that Iverson would damage a team, and is a hazard to any locker room. Looking past the media's twisting of Iverson's image, it is clear that Iverson can help an NBA team if he signs this offseason.
Iverson now claims that he is more dedicated than ever to playing basketball on an NBA team.
Here are 5 reasons why he should be on an NBA team by the end of the offseason.
Let's look back at Iverson's long career and see where it began dropping off.
When Iverson first entered the league, he was rookie of the year, averaging nearly 24 points and 8 assists a game. In '99, Iverson led the Sixers to a playoff berth, and in '01, to the Finals (with an Eastern Conference leading, 56-26 record). Iverson, the franchise player, played his style of ball and led the Sixers to their best season in years.
When Iverson was traded to the Nuggets, he joined an offensive beast in Carmelo, but many saw this as the beginning of the downfall of AI's career. Especially after they compared his time in Denver to that of the pure point-guard in Chauncey Billups.
However, Denver's front office is the reason for the Iverson flop in Denver. Why they insisted that adding more firepower to an already dangerous lineup was necessary is beyond me. Iverson played how he always played, a way that earned him success. However, he was criticized for his attention to offense (on an offense-based team) as opposed to defense.
When Iverson was traded to Detroit, he was traded to a team that lost a leader and a foundation in Chauncey Billups. Iverson's style once again did not fit the mold, and the superstar was forced to humble himself on Detroit's bench. Detroit, a team that lost its identity, is still suffering from the Chauncey trade, even without Iverson "plagueing" the team.
In Memphis, Iverson didn't believe that Conley was a better option at point-guard than he was (and that he wasn't given a fair training camp evaluation), starting the negative media attention that boiled Iverson's statements to, "I don't want to come off the bench."
After a warm, Philadelphia homecoming, Iverson was relevant again, until he encountered family problems, forcing him to give up on his season.
And here he is now, a great player caught in basketball Limbo.
Regardless of how much Allen Iverson can redirect a team's offense around himself, he still holds 15 years of NBA experience.
Before we overlook Iverson as a selfish, hazardous team player, we should give Iverson the respect he deserves by looking at his accolades.
- NBA Most Valuable Player (2001)
- NBA Rookie of the Year (1997)
- 11× NBA All-Star (2000-2010)
- 4× NBA scoring champion (1999, 2001-2002, 2005)
- 3× All-NBA First Team (1999, 2001, 2005)
- 3× All-NBA Second Team (2000, 2002-2003)
- All-NBA Third Team (2006)
- NBA All-Rookie First Team (1997)
- 2× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2001, 2005)
Clearly the most seasoned and decorated player on the free agent market.
A guard that barely stands at 6'0", Iverson came into the NBA with a very unique method scoring, leading, and even dressing. However, looking at his accolades, it's hard to argue that he hasn't made the most of his career. Iverson and his resume of experiences are one of the most prized possessions still on the NBA free agency list.
The bottom line is, Iverson's experiences in the NBA could benefit a team in need of veteran knowledge.
No longer is Iverson the player that would hold press conferences about practice.
Iverson just wants to play on an NBA team.
In an interview with John Thompson, AI's ex-Georgetown coach, he claimed that he was only angry in Memphis because he felt that Mike Conley was given the spot of starting point-guard, without earning it.
Iverson stepped into a situation where he was forced to come off the bench, and wasn't able to prove himself in training camp. Iverson also stated that he would have no problem with coming off of the bench, behind a player he believed out-worked him or deserved to be a starter.
Iverson also stated that a coach doesn't need to make any adjustments to specifically coach him. Iverson pleaded that he just wanted an assignment, or "something to do, out on the basketball court."
One of the biggest things deterring teams from signing Iverson is his added baggage and negative image. But with his selfish ways behind him, and with the same self confidence, Iverson can definitely help a team in need.
For Allen Iverson interview with John Thompson's, click the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDmvaZMCI0I
Iverson, once remembered for his killer crossovers and sweet jumpers, is nearing his late 30's. However, he can still provide an impact on the hardwood.
Just a couple of years ago, in the 2007-2008 season, Iverson's stat line was the most efficient in his whole career.
45.8 percent shooting (his career best), 1.2 threes on 34.6 percent shooting, 26.4 points, 7.2 assists, 2.0 steals, and 3.0 turnovers (the lowest ever in his career).
The year after, Iverson was traded to the Pistons for Chauncey Billups, the team's undeniable leader. When the Pistons had a hard time adjusting to Iverson's style and the loss of Billups' leadership, many pronounced Iverson's impact as negative.
Sure Iverson dominates the ball, that's how he plays. With such a small body, he needs the ball to score.
In Philadelphia, Iverson was marred by injuries, family problems, and a bad system under now fired Eddie Jordan. Jordan tried to apply his Princeton offense in Philly, a system that several players were very unhappy with.
In fact, watching Sixers teammates Elton Brand and even (to a certain extent) Andre Iguodala's career slowly diminish in Philly gives me the idea that we can blame the system, not particular players for statistical and team woes.
Iverson, now with him and his family healthy, claims that he is dedicated to "doing what he does best".
Just three years removed from one of his best statistical seasons, Iverson is more than ready to come back and provide an impact for any team.
Iverson is cancer to any team that signs him, so people say. With his way of dominating the ball; and as Kenny Smith put it, "his tattoos, his cornrows, his entourage", Iverson does carry a lot of baggage.
With all this negative talk about Iverson, we overlook why a team could actually be interested in the 11 time All-Star.
Iverson brings experience, the ability to score, and the ability to set his teammates up.
Last year in Philadelphia, Iverson showed he could still score, posting 13.8 ppg in just over 30 minutes a game. If you inflate his numbers, to his 40-minute-a-game standard, Iverson put up 17.3 ppg, not too shabby for cancerous, cornrow-donning player in a horrible system.
Iverson has now accepted that he could take a bench role, which ups his value tremendously. Any team needs a spark off the bench, and what better spark than a former MVP that prides himself on his hustle, and can still get to the rack?
Any team looking for either a seasoned veteran, or a player that can provide off the bench could find "The Answer" in Allen Iverson (zing).
The final reason Iverson could help a franchise is that he is still an attraction to fans.
As a Piston's fan that went to Iverson's debut game, I don't remember the Palace ever louder with anticipation.
Last year, the Sixers began the season ranked 29th out of the 30 NBA in attendance, with only 11,965 people attending every game.
After Iverson signed, fans were lining up to buy vintage Iverson jerseys, and instantly made an impact in the ticket office.
Lara Price, the Sixer's VP of business operations, claimed that after signing Iverson, they sold-out on his debut against the Nuggets, and even starting selling their full and partial season tickets. People were willing to see Iverson long after his second Sixers debut.
Iverson's a brand (outside of his I3 shoes), and he brings in money via jerseys, merchandise, and sell-out crowds. Any team trying to bring in some more revenue will definitely look to Iverson to help dig them out of a financial hole.