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Allen Iverson Retires from NBA: Reflections on a Misunderstood Career

Vikram DimbaCorrespondent INovember 25, 2009

Stephen A. Smith of ESPN is reporting that Allen Iverson has officially retired from the NBA.

His last game in the NBA was against the Los Angeles Lakers, and Iverson scored eight points on two for five shooting in just 21 minutes of play. This was a game in which Kobe Bryant ironically surpassed Iverson on the all-time scoring list.

It's easy to point out the flaws in Iverson's game. He's a ball dominant, low efficient guard with no natural position. He should be a shooting guard by the nature of his game, but his diminutive figure makes him poor defensively and a liability on that end of the floor.

The way Iverson handled the Memphis situation was wrong, and it's likely true that Iverson may be the hardest player in NBA history around whom to build a team, as teams should be filled with defensive players and shooters who are capable of playing off of the ball.

But overall, this is a sad day for the NBA. We as fans have lost one of the generation's most influential athletes. For all that's wrong in his game, it's indisputable that Iverson is also one of the most accomplished players ever to have stepped onto an NBA court.

His career was filled with accolades. Iverson was the consensus Rookie of the Year in 1996, made 10 All-Star appearances, made seven All-NBA teams, won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award in 2000-2001, won multiple All-Star game MVPs, and won four NBA Scoring Titles. Few others possess a similar resume to Iverson.

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He paved the way for the young guards today, players such as Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. They are the small guys that can get into the lane at anytime and finish with the best of them. This is similar to the extent that Julius Erving changed the game with his high-flying, athletic game, but obviously to a much lesser extent.

Of course, it's unavoidable that we go back to the fact that Iverson has seemingly finished his career without the ultimate prize—an NBA Championship. It's more controversial than other similar cases, such as Karl Malone or Charles Barkley, due to the fact that many argue that Iverson's game isn't conducive to winning basketball games.

It's sad that his career has ended the way it has. He handled the Memphis situation the wrong way, complaining about minutes nearly immediately after he was inserted into the lineup, and refusing to play through it to prove his point over starting in place of Mike Conley.

The infamous, "We talkin' bout practice?," the cornrows, and the demeanor that he carried are what we'll likely remember the most.

The flaws in his game are apparent, but let's remember him for what he did for the game.

Over the past decade or so, we have all witnessed one of the greatest volume scorers ever to have played the game—the run to the NBA Finals and the 48-point Game One in the Finals against the undefeated Los Angeles Lakers.

With the MVP and the scoring titles, he is one of the most athletically gifted players ever to have played—the steals and the flash of one of the NBA's most popular players during his prime.

He isn't a hero. In fact he's far from it, but he isn't the enemy either.

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