Lately, I’ve been reading articles around the web suggesting that Allen Iverson should join this team or that team, as some suggest he should go back to the Sixers, or star for the Knicks, or come off the bench for the Celtics or Lakers.
And while all those scenarios could work out in a perfect world, Iverson signing with any of those teams seems as far-fetched as LeBron James rejoining Cleveland. The fact is almost every team in the NBA has come out and said that they won’t go in that direction.
The past two seasons have been very tough for Iverson, as he went from being among the league’s top earners, to having to settle for around the veteran’s minimum. Over the past two years,he may be the guy who’s suffered the biggest drop-off in the NBA, whether it be physically, health-wise, or his image.
Let’s go back to last season when Iverson and Memphis had decided to go their separate ways after just three games. Iverson thought he could have his way now that he was on the open market, and for a while, it looked like he would get his way.
Out of desperation, the New York Knicks seriously considered him, and there were multiple reports confirming AI would be offered a contract. However, at the last minute, the Knicks pulled out and flat-out said after long consideration that they weren’t going in that direction.
At that point, Iverson was at rock bottom, and he did the unthinkable, retiring just a few days before Thanksgiving. Everyone knew his retirement was temporary, in fact, it may have been a ploy to get Iverson’s name back on the headlines, or get league executives to remember him again.
Inevitably, Iverson came out of retirement as soon as the Sixers decided to bring him back to boost attendance and give the team some buzz. The signing was a huge failure for multiple reasons.
The main reason was that Iverson wasn’t very productive. When he came back, he looked like he was in no shape to play basketball, and during his first few games, he would get winded after playing just a few minutes.
During his second go-around in Philly, Iverson averaged 14 points and two assists in 32 minutes, and he wasn’t efficient at all, shooting 41 percent and posting a player efficiency rating below 14.
Iverson simply was a shell of his old self.
He was brought back to the Sixers to boost attendance, but during his stay, the Sixers had only two sellouts, his first game back, and when the Lakers came to visit, which is always a sellout. So technically, he only produced one sellout. In fact, after a few games, the fans realized AI wasn’t anywhere near his old self and that it wasn’t worth paying to see him anymore.
Iverson also didn’t produce any wins or signature moments on the court during his second stint with the Sixers. The team went 10-15 during his 25 games. Iverson was also in and out of the lineup constantly, as his knees had given out on him and he lacked a serious step of explosiveness.
He also took playing time from the Sixers’ promising point guard of the future, Jrue Holiday. Holiday was the youngest player in the NBA last season, and when he got his chance, showed great promise. He started at point guard towards the end of the season, and the potential reps he could’ve gotten while Iverson was on the team could’ve helped.
Iverson eventually took an indefinite leave of absence to be with his daughter, which turned out to be a permanent leave of absence. Later in May, rumors surfaced that Iverson was having serious gambling and drinking problems.
Stephen A Smith said Iverson “will either drink himself into oblivion or gamble his life away.” In fact, Iverson’s problems were so bad that he was banished from casinos in Detroit and Atlantic City. He later confirmed that he was “going through some very tough times.”
Reality is Iverson had to hide his personal problems while he was on the Sixers, but the leave of absence showed that basketball shouldn’t have been one of his top priorities.
Iverson wasn’t in the physical or mental shape to play basketball back then, so what makes you think he’s going to be ready all of a sudden?
If Iverson were to play again this season, he wouldn’t be able to sustain the strength to play a full 82-game season, wouldn’t be able to play heavy minutes, and would only be useful coming off the bench, which he hates to do. He would just be making a mockery of his already Hall of Fame-worthy career.
Iverson just wanted to go out on his own terms, however, he may never get the chance to do so. AI still has a lasting legacy of going down as one of the greatest little guys to ever play the game, but the time for this little warrior to retire is now.
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