I never thought a story like this would come from me, and for good reason. Allen Iverson has been my favorite player ever since the Georgetown days. Once he got drafted by Sixers in 1996, he instantly became my favorite player in the league, surpassing even The G.O.A.T. Even to this day, nothing has changed. I say all that, so you will see this is a story coming from a fan of Iverson, not someone who can’t stand the sight of him, or someone who is just a plain hater. This is coming from someone who wants him to leave the game with his dignity intact, while he’s still a very productive player, and someone who doesn’t want to see him reduced to a jersey-seller, a seat-filler, but with no chance of winning the championship. Simply put, I don’t want my favorite player of all-time to be reduced to a basketball version of the UniverSoul Circus.
When people look at Allen Iverson, they see someone who is a team-wrecker, a diva, and someone who doesn’t care about winning. People choose to forget he has carried teams on his back for years, and was dealt the short end of the deck in others. Last season was a nightmare in Detroit, as everyone who witnessed was aware of. He was reduced to coming off the bench, publicly complained about the role, and was then deactivated for the rest of the season with a back injury. Last season also marked the end of his contract, which now makes him a free agent. This is where things really get interesting.
There’s no denying that Allen Iverson can still be productive. He can go somewhere and get his starting job, minutes, shots, get 20 points a night, and remind people why he’s still one of the best players in basketball. However, it will be on a team who has no earthly chance in hell of winning a championship, and even I, as an Allen Iverson fan, will be the first to admit that. I hear teams like Charlotte and Memphis, and all I can do is laugh. Charlotte is on the verge of being a playoff team with a mix of young players, a couple of veterans, and with Larry Brown running the show. Sure, Iverson could go there, but what will that really accomplish? They’re going to make the playoffs whether he’s there or not, so that scenario is out. Memphis is a million years away from being a contender, so that move does nothing either. The only thing he can gain from going to those places is a nice payday, and he’s had plenty of those. The primary objective should be to win a championship, period.
The only team I can see him playing for, while being a productive player, and having a chance to win a championship, is the Boston Celtics. Even with that, it’s about a big a pipe dream as can be had, simply because (a) he wouldn’t start, (b) he would have to become a true role player, and (c) he won’t get big money from them. For something like this to happen, he would have to completely buy into what Boston is doing. Granted, I think he’s better than Ray Allen, but I know he’s not a better fit than Ray for Boston’s system, so there would be, and should be, no change in the starting line-up. When I ask people why he couldn’t be a Ginobili, why he couldn’t become the best sixth-man in basketball, and simply be instant offense off the bench, they say the pride factor will keep him from doing so.
No other real contender (San Antonio, LA Lakers, Cleveland, Orlando, Houston) needs him, so it’s either time to swallow some pride, or charge it to the game. He’s someone who knows he’s better than a lot of players at his position, but unlike those players, they know what their roles are, and there’s no extreme circumstance that will make them have to swallow their pride. With that said, if he chooses to retire now, not only will his legacy remain intact, he’ll be remembered as one of the best players of our generation. His fans, such as me, won’t be mad at him for it one bit. However, if he does choose to stick around for the payday, for the starting job, for the points, but with no realistic chance of winning a championship, that will be something that even I will no longer be able to defend.