Allen Iverson comes home

allen-iverson_georgetownI’ve owned very few jerseys in my lifetime. Back in the day, I bought a Warren Sapp jersey that I would wear to the occasional Buccaneer game. I even bought a Jerry Rice jersey once.

I did, however, years ago, buy a retro 76ers Allen Iverson jersey that still I own to this day. He was playing in Philadelphia at the time; his failed Detroit and Denver stints a few years away. The jersey just seemed like a cool thing to own, homage to one of the league’s coolest players.

I always liked Iverson. He was a bad ass. I mean, come on. The kid was six feet tall, if that, and could score on anyone, at any time. He was a ridiculous talent who marched to the beat of a different drummer.

In 1996, one of the deepest drafts the NBA has ever seen, Iverson was the consensus number one pick over Marcus Camby, Ray Allen, Stephon Marbury, Antoine Walker, Erick Dampier, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal, Peja Stojakovic, Tony Delk and Kobe Bryant.

Iverson immediately lived up to the hype. He took the league by storm, averaging 23.5 points per game his rookie season on his way to Rookie of the Year honors. Within five years, he led the 76ers to the NBA Finals, basically by himself. That season, he scored nearly three times as many points as his teammates, a list which included Aaron McKie, Tyrone Hill, George Lynch, Tyrone Hill and Eric Snow, none of whom have been known to light up the twine.

allen-iverson-practice-press-conferenceAs if his on-the-court accomplishments weren’t impressive enough, Allen Iverson gave us possibly the greatest press conference ever. “We talkin’ about practice” has entered the vernacular of any serious sports fan.

Make no mistake, Iverson was dominant. He was the shortest player to ever win an NBA scoring title, doing so four times. He is 6th all-time in points scored per game behind Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron James, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. Perhaps even more impressive, he is fourth all time in minutes per game behind Wilt, Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson.

76er success lived and died with A.I. Was he a pass-first point guard? Yes. Was he difficult to build a team around? Most likely. Was he stubborn and strong-willed? Absolutely. But show me a six-footer who’s not and I’ll show you a guy who doesn’t make it in the league.

This off-season, a free agent more assured of his skills than any team owner, Allen Iverson could not find a home. In a move that seemed like the Iverson farewell tour, he signed with the Memphis Grizzlies in September. The only problem was Iverson wasn’t ready to say goodbye. At least not like that.

After only three games, the two parties agreed to part ways, leaving Iverson team-less once again. When no other team came a-knockin’, Iverson came to the harsh realization that demand had waned with his supply. Adam Smith never said it would be like this. So Allen Iverson opted unwillingly for retirement.

SPORT NBAUpon that announcement, former players-turned-analysts like Jamal Mashburn and Jalen Rose, who are only a few years older than Iverson, used the word ‘icon’ to describe him. That word has been thrown around a lot lately and appropriately so. Iverson was the first big name to introduce tattoos and corn rows into the NBA, an image that alienated a lot of people from the league. But true fans knew Iverson, mistakes and all, was the Answer. The league without Iverson would have been like hip-hop without gangsta rap.

Nobody ever doubted that the oft misunderstood Iverson gave his heart, body and soul to “the game that he went out there and died for.” But his appearance led to preconceived notions about the man.

Recently, people poked fun at Rex Ryan and Urban Meyer who dared make the emasculating mistake of crying in front of others. But wasn’t it Jim Valvano who taught us to laugh, think and be moved to tears every day? This week, Allen Iverson adhered to Jimmy V’s mantra, giving us yet another memorable moment and shedding more light into his character. Before watching this video, be warned. If you’re an Iverson fan or even somewhat sappy, you’ll squirt some tears more than at the end of “The Blind Side.”

Iverson’s made mistakes. Who hasn’t? As we’ve seen lately, even the world’s most dominant athlete has character flaws.

Iverson’s best years are behind him but at least now, in some way, he gets to go out on his own terms, in Philadelphia where he started in front of those who adored him most. This was no pity signing. With only five wins this season, the 76ers need Allen Iverson as badly as he needs them.

Expect a tearful and rousing welcome home when Iverson suits up for Philadelphia once again. The City of Brotherly Love is hard on its players but loving of its idols. Allen Iverson is definitely one of them.

34 thoughts on “Allen Iverson comes home

  1. I think the magics can use a talent like that. Like you said you got to be tough when you not even 5, 11 with tennis shoes on .

  2. Angel… I thought for a brief minute that AI might be a nice fit in Orlando but with Howard, Lewis and now Vince Carter, there simply wasn’t enough shots to go around.

    I don’t know how seriously the organization considered going after Iverson, if at all, but they’ve always tried to go for character guys. No creo que “La Respuesta” tiene esa reputacion.

  3. Chris

    Hearing Jalen Rose and Mashurn speak about Iverson being an icon lets me know why it was I had no respect for their game at all. They in fact had ‘no game’ or intelligence to begin with !

    What Iverson indeed was- was a great player but his early years he was in essence a malcontent and had no respect for his coaches in the NBA . The tirade that he had with Larry Brown indicated that from the outset. Teams there afterwards were weary as to what he was all about. And now expects that he’s deserving of some empathy ? What happens if things should begin to ‘go south’ with the Sixers ?

    Don’t get me wrong I admire AI as a player but as a human being , he leaves a great deal to be desired.

    Alan Parkins

  4. Al…

    Mash and Jalen were both ridiculous talents in college but that didn’t necessarily transfer to consistency on the next level. I remember seeing Mash destroy the Gators while at UK. And Jalen was on one of the most underachieving college teams of all time. Remember, he was a small forward that could play point.

    I think you’re a lot harder on people than I am. I’m okay with Iverson questioning authority. Who died and made Larry Brown god? Yes, he’s made numerous mistakes. Who hasn’t? I’m not saying he’s the best person but I do think that he’s largely understood.

    Let me ask you this. Was the NBA better with Iverson in it? Are you okay with a lot of white viewers turning away from the game simply because they didn’t like the way he looked? I say, screw that.

    He may have been a headcase, again… who isn’t, but one thing he never was was insincere.

  5. Chris

    College is one thing but it’s in the NBA where your legacy and legend is made !

    AI great talent that he is , may well have never earned the respect he thought he deserved from his teammates. Just sit and watch his interview with the press over the ‘practice’ fallout. It tells you a great deal about who is was and still is to this day. Not once did say I should be there for my teammates. If that’s not an indication of who’s selfish then what is ? He may well have played hurt a lot of the time . But in essence was he doing it for the team or himself ?

    Alan Parkins

  6. Chris

    No one is naive enough to think that the NBA doesn’t need its assortment of characters. Otherwise where would it be ?
    You seem to forget that David Stern couldn’t get enough of the likes of headcases like Iverson , ‘sheed and others of that ilk in order to sell the game and its image to not only the ‘urban youth’ but youngsters in general. Now in light ‘corporate’ America back pedaling on that ‘mantra’ and at Stern’s behest the whole image of the NBA had to change. So let’s be realistic here ! It’s not what was best for Iverson and what he brought to the NBA . But what was best for the NBA and its overall image .

    First and foremost the NBA is a business and the bye product of it all are the players and the ones who happen to become stars or in some cases ‘the face ‘ of the NBA. You make it sound as if the NBA needed Iverson more than he needs it ?
    When in essence it was the other way around. Iverson is ‘the one’ who needs the game more , than the game actually needs him.

    On a differing subject , which team at present do you actually see as being able to take down the Colts in the AFC ? You mentioned that you’d take the rest of the AFC in that context , without naming a team ?

    Alan Parkins

  7. No disagreement, Al. One leads by example. Larry Bird was the first to get to practice and the last to leave. We don’t hear about Kobe or Bron Bron bailing on practice.

    But AI was AI. And if he didn’t bail on that practice, we wouldn’t have that delicious press conference.

    Don’t forget to watch Donaghy on 60 Minutes tonight.

  8. No one man is bigger than the league, Al. I’ll give you that. But there was a time where AI was a huge draw.

    As far as the AFC goes, Al, maybe I jumped the gun. I don’t know why I’m so skeptical of the Colts but they’re clearly better than the rest of their conference.

    So now I hear Greg Oden is gone for the year?

  9. Chris

    AI is all about AI ! I’ve yet to hear a teammate past or present speak highly of the guy. If anything that should be an indication about some of his peers feel about him.

    The Colts have found numerous ways to win and that tells me a great deal about the team. I think that Caldwell basically has carried on where Dungy left off. And that can’t be such a bad thing now can it ?

    Yesterday wasn’t a day for the faint hearted ! It was sad to see the Gators go down the way that they did with the minimal effort by the entire team.

    Here’s my take on it all.

    The More You Think You Know The Less You Really Do Know …. !

    Alan Parkins aka tophatal

  10. Al… I honestly think AI doesn’t give a crap about his own personal stats. I think he’d trade all that for a ring. I just don’t think he knows what it takes to get one.

    Colts hung on again today. Very impressive against a hot Titans team.

    The Gators lost? I hadn’t noticed.

  11. Bad break for both Oden and the Trailblazers. You’d love to see the guy have a long, prosperous and healthy career.

    Although I have a friend who swears that taking Durant over Oden in that draft was a no-brainer.

  12. Iverson was a pass first point guard?

    Look, I was a big Iverson supporter back in his early days. I stood up for him when analysts argued he didn’t make his teammates better, mainly because his supporting cast left a lot to be desired. I mean, how much better could Eric Snow and Aaron McKie possibly be?

    But Iverson had a golden opportunity in Denver — and he blew it. With Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith on the wings, and Nene and Kenyon Martin down low, the Nuggets were a top-notch facilitator away from championship contention. Iverson could have been that guy if he had sacrificed his game for the greater good of the team. He chose to fire up shots, instead, and ruined his last shot at a title.

    I’ll concede that Iverson is a first ballot Hall of Famer, but I think he’s the most overrated Hall of Famer of all-time. I mean that. The guy shot 42 percent during his MVP season. 42 percent!

    Bottom line: He never made his teammates better. He never “got it,” and he never will.

  13. Chris

    Both of those guys are good in their own way. Unfortunately for Oden, we just might not know how good he might’ve been. I do believe however, that he was beginning to show signs of promise . And it would’ve augured well for the Trailblazers. But now it’ll be left to stars such as Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Alridge, Rudy Fernandez and Steve Blake to show us really how good that team will become.

    Oh what the hell are the Patriots up to ? Once again Belichick is making me completely rethink my allegiance towards the team. Another rather embarrassing loss and it had to be against Miami ?

    It’d appear that the Vikings are overrated afterall ? Now down 24-10 in the third qtr to the Cardinals .

    And oh those mighty Cowboys ! Another proverbial kick in the keester 31-24 at the hands of the Giants. ‘Romo , Romo wherefore art thou Romo ?

    Alan Parkins

  14. Awwww yeah, Fins take out the Pats in Miami. That win puts me on the road to recovery after the depressing Saturday afternoon event. Fins have a tough road to win out but don’t be surprised when you see that a wild card berth will come down to the Steeler/Fin game on Jan. 3.

    As for AI, I love the dude. There was no one in all of college basketball that could stop the guy one on one. He was ridiculous to watch. My opinion that he is the most sincere player in the history of the NBA. Forget all the sugar coated, PR dribble. This guy told it like it was, whether bad or good – – you knew it was the honest truth. I won’t comment on the viewing public’s opinion of his overall appearance; I think you know how I feel about that subject already.

    BTW, you gotta love how I got that Romanian girl to keep saying, “We talkin’ bout practice??”

  15. That’s why we all love when Hoff swings by.

    How the hell can he make his teammates better by practice?

    Hoff, just out of curiosity, how much of that failed Denver experiment do you blame on George Karl? And sub-question, does Denver have what it takes to win it all this year?

  16. You’re right, Al, it is a shame about Oden. But it is what it is. Al least, Portland knows for this season that they can move on. But what about their future?

    Fish always play the Pats well. You know that. They did so again yesterday. Herd thinks there’s a rift between Moss and Brady.

    Favre may have cost himself an MVP with that performance yesterday. Every time I looked up, he was throwing interceptions.

    And who will be fired first, Zorn or Phillips?

  17. Chris

    The piece on the Gators isn’t a damning one. It merely suggests that they were ill prepared that’s all.

    The way the Pats are playing at the moment , all to inconsistently. It suggests that they’ll make the playoffs but may well struggle against a really well coached and disciplined team. And at present Beclichick and the coaching staff haven’t got this team on the right page at all !

    Brady and his supporting cast have been struggling like a capsized survivor from a sunken ship.

    A Simple Twist of Fate …..

    This piece is on the loss of Oden to the Trailblazers and how it’ll affect them.

    Alan Parkins


  18. Chris

    Is it me or has Woods’ life seemingly sprialled out of control so much ? If this isn’t his wife or mother-in-law , then who the hell is that’s now been taken to the hospital ? It’d appear that a Stanford education isn’t all it’s cracked up to be !

    Tiger’s basically proven that he’s no smarter than the average bear or Kobe Bryant for that matter !

    Woman rushed to hospital from Woods’ home …

    breaking news
    NBC, msnbc.com and news services
    updated 29 minutes ago

    WINDERMERE, Fla. – A woman was transported to a hospital from Tiger Woods’ Florida home after firefighters responded to a medical call early Tuesday, NBC News reported.

    According to Orlando-based WESH, the adult female was taken from the $2.6 million mansion “on advanced life support” after firefighters received a call at 2:36 a.m.

    A radio log showed an adult female was transported to Health Central Hospital in Ocoee, Fla., WESH reported.

    ===============================================
    Click on link to read in its entirety

    Say what you will but these transgressions are multiplying faster than mice can breed. LOL,LOL,LOL !!!!

    So your favorite hot chic’ll soon be festooning us with an appearance in NASCAR. Does that mean we’ll get to see her at least half-naked ?

    Danica Patrick montage …

    Looking good and smelling sweet no doubt !

    Alan Parkins

  19. Chris

    As of now Tiger’s pristine image has taken a sever hit. And I don’t care what IMG , his management firm, now tries to do in terms of PR’. The damage has been irrevocably done !

    Now we’re finding out also, the subpoaena that FHP sought, was turned down for some reason. There’s something to suggest that someone within the Orange County Court system got wind of it all and then made Woods’ people aware of what was about to ‘go down’. Wherein, ‘the fix’ was in. Can’t put in anymore succinctly than that.

    Dropped this on the Cardinals’ Anquan Boldin. And below that is a piece on the Heisman Trophy .

    1) Unresolved Issues Do You Want Me Or Not ? Is This What Anquan Boldin Ought To Be Asking ?

    2) The Heisman Trophy What Is It Really … ?

    Alan Parkins

  20. Al, it’s going to get more and more ugly as we find out (if we find out) what actually happened.

    George Lopez told a funny joke the other night on his monologue. He mentioned that LeBron James wanted to become the first sports billionaire but it looks like Tiger Woods’ wife beat him to it.

    Ouch!

  21. Chris

    Tiger may well have a pre-nup but I doubt it’ll still stand him in good stead. He’s screwed up majorly but as always his major sponsors for now will stick with him. But come contract renegotiation time they’re going to stick it to him good.

    There’s going to be acute wording in terms of the clauses in his contracts. Let’s say he’d better be able to spell the word morals and comprehend what a morals’ clause means. LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

    No Tiger, when we ask you use your ‘9 iron’ to hit a golf shot. We’re not asking you to bag ‘n’ tag the first ‘hot chick’ you see. We literally want you to hit the shot.

    You’ve been given an honorable mention in this piece as it also mentions Halle Berry , Sanaa Lathan and Stacey Dash. Check it out and let me know what you think .

    Katie’s Gorgeous Lumps And Bumps And One Or Two Of Her Friends …

    Alan Parkins

  22. Al… I’m just wondering why Tiger hasn’t shown his face or come out and said anything yet. Or maybe I’m not wondering.

    Is he just hoping this thing blows over? ‘Cause I don’t think it will.

  23. Chris

    Whoever inside of the management company whose responsibility it is with regard to Tiger’s PR within IMG is either too dumb to realize that the advice being given to Woods is hurting him far more than it is assisting him.

    Now Gatorade has dropped its promotional plan concerning a product line of drinks bearing his likeness. And there’s now rumors that several of his other major corporate sponsors are said to be mulling their present situation and their relationship with the player. Tiger at this point is his own worst enemy .

    Tiger is now coming off looking like a real dick-wad ! And what’s this about several p_rn stars being added into the mix for the luridness of it all ? What no prostitutes or she-males have yet to come forward and say that they’ve had sex with him ? Or will that be the next shoe to drop ?

    http://tophatal.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/pardon-me-for-saying-this-but-what-happened-and-who-the-hell-cares-i-might-but-then-again-i-might-not/

    Click on the link provided to read.

    Any truth to the rumor that Danica Patrick is wiling to barely clothed in her first foray into NASCAR ? If that’s the case I may well give up watching the Bucs play and follow her foray into NASCAR. If only to get a glimpse of her fine self and that tight a_s of hers. Ain’t all bad , now is it ?

    Alan Parkins

  24. I’m surprised Tiger’s publicists still have jobs. They have totally mismanaged this entire thing.

    Although I’m not sure how they could have spun this. The guy’s banging porn stars, he’s got naked pics of himself, I mean, damn. I’d hate to think we’re still just scratching the surface.

    Why haven’t we seen Tiger yet? I’m not asking for a public statement but has anyone seen this guy? How effed up is his face?

    Athletes like Kobe, Tyson, Jordan, Clemens, Bonds to name only a few have all fallen from grace but this Tiger predicament could take the cake.

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