The Retirement of Allen Iverson: Glory, Tragedy, Selfishness, and Business

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent INovember 26, 2009

I was on my treadmill when the radio announced that Allen Iverson was retiring from the NBA at age 36 after being discontent with his role in Memphis and unable to be signed by the New York Knicks.

I turned off my treadmill and had to take a second to reflect.

As an NBA and Iverson fan:

1. It was just over a month ago I was thrilled to write about Iverson's potential to help the Memphis Grizzlies become playoff contenders.

2. It was just over six months ago I watched the Detroit Pistons organization come to terms with the fact he was not the best choice for their organization.

3. It was three years ago I was convinced he would help the Denver Nuggets go far in the playoffs.  (Which led to two first round playoff ousts...)

4. I was seven years ago I was disappointed with the Philadelphia 76ers performance in the NBA playoffs.  (An ouster in the first round...)

5. And it was eight years ago that I sat on the edge of my seat and screamed like a maniac during the 2001 NBA post season to watch the buildup of what I consider the performance of the decade: Allen Iverson during Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals.

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In 2001, Allen Iverson was my hero. 

He was a rebel, a young super-talent unafraid to speak his mind and play his game, leading a rag—tag group of players consisting of guys like Matt Geiger and Tyrone Hill through the NBA playoffs to face off against the Juggernaut that was the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers were undefeated in the 2001 post season, defeating my Blazers, the Kings, and the Spurs by an average of 20 points. They were looking to be the only team in the NBA to ever go undefeated in the post season. 

Because the Lakers had knocked my Blazers out during game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals in heartbreaking manner...Iverson was my ticket to revenge.

In Game 1 of the NBA Finals Allen Iverson scored 48 points to lead his team to a five point victory in overtime. 

The Lakers dreams of a perfect season were squashed by the rebel with corn-rows, tattoos, and a larger than life determination to win the NBA Finals.

Proof the little guy can win.  A fairy tale?

But as usual with true—life David V. Goliath storylines...the Lakers would win four games in a row and take the 2001 NBA title. 

Yet even in defeat, the Philadelphia 76ers led by Allen Iverson prevented the Lakers from accomplishing a goal far more significant than their second NBA title in two years.

They prevented them from setting an undefeated postseason record.

For many, myself included, it was a bigger accomplishment for the 76ers than it was for the Lakers to win the title.

That's glory.

But in the years that followed, perhaps it was injury or perhaps it was the fact that coaches never ran the game that Iverson was accustomed to playing...Iverson had struggles that included a loss in the 2004 Summer Olympics and numerous first round postseason exits. 

He would win scoring titles and even a second All Star game MVP, but he never led another team to the glory of 2001.

To me, that's a tragedy. I think winning meant more to Iverson in 2001 than all the money or stats in the world. He was in inspiration to the nation. I even bought his sneakers and they made my whack—white—boy game way better.

I was so sure that Iverson would help Memphis, but he was discontent being taken in off the bench.

That's selfishness. 

Here was his chance to be Uncle Iverson to the new kids on the block. To reassert himself as a leader. 

It seemed that money and stats were more important to him than helping rebuild an organization that could use him.

Perhaps that is why the New York Knicks passed on him.

And now he has retired.

That's business.

Iverson wants to shake the whole league up by letting them know he's:

a. OUT


He's making a ton of racket, using his influence to gain plenty of media hype over the course of the season (pulling a Brett Favre?) to let teams who maybe aren't paying as close enough attention as they should that he is ready to play when called upon.

But, only if he's inserted into the starting line-up and given control of the ball.

Well, in the end that technically is the game he played during his glory year.   

So I doubt the league has heard the last of Mr. Allen Iverson. 

At least, I hope not. 

But I hope that one day Iverson can realize that the last eight seasons of his career have been marred by tragedy, selfishness, and business. 

Come on, Allen.

Go back for the glory.

It's well worth it!


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