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NBA news

Mesaj Scris de HiME la data de Lun Noi 30, 2009 7:42 pm

Iverson can still play, but it will take unique situation

Iverson never wanted to retire. He told us as much, via Stephen A. Smith, even when he was announcing his retirement in the first place. Smith conveniently the broke the news that A.I. might be coming back to
the place where it all started. That's brotherly love. Iverson must have felt he needed the buzz and it made sense to turn to a confidant with last week's open letter. Smith's personal Web site, no doubt, cashed in on the traffic as Iverson returned to the sport's consciousness. Kenny, Chuck and Ernie debated the reasons behind A.I.'s quitting on the NBA. Career retrospectives popped up on SportsCenter and NBA TV. This Web site has covered the story non-stop since Wednesday. Why? A.I. polarizes. And he can still play. The talent has never been a question. His peers were unanimous in praising his talent and impact on the game for the last 13-plus years. The league's megawatt young stars -- LeBron, Melo, D-Wade -- spoke in almost reverential tones about one of their heroes. Many older players weren't buying the retirement talk, noting again that Iverson is too good to walk away. Former coaches Larry Brown and John Thompson rushed to the frontlines, trying to talk him into coming back. It seems no one wants to see A.I. go out this way. But what would he be coming back to?The NBA marketplace hasn't significantly changed since this summer, when only Memphis had interest in the former MVP. Philadelphia popped up last week, making for a tidy career arc for the 76ers' one-time No. 1 pick, but the move is more about injury than nostalgia. We conducted an unofficial survey of general managers during the offseason, as Iverson remained unemployed into September, and to a man, no one had any real interest in signing the four-time scoring champ. Sure, the baggage and image played a part, but the league has long found a home for others with twice the problems and half the talent. Perhaps the talents that so many players admire about A.I. are his downfall. The skills he's spent a lifetime perfecting, fetching fame and fortune, and taking him to the top of the profession, are now the issue. Even at 34, Iverson may be too good for his own good. Just not great. The ghosts of Iverson's talents don't allow for a logical fit anywhere in
the NBA. His game, while still productive, is not productive enough to play the way A.I. wants to play. As one high-ranking league executive said, "He takes an A-plus dominance of the ball and has B-plus skills." There's
nothing wrong with B-plus skills. Iverson isn't in the Kobe-LeBron-Wade stratosphere anymore. But once a lead singer, always a lead singer. "Probably time for him to sing a duet," the exec said. "He still wants to be the King." Iverson also isn't ready for the oldies circuit. Blending in with other hit-makers just might not be in his DNA. For so
many years, A.I. knew he was the best player on the court for his team. He knew he could do what his teammates couldn't, so he did it all. Iverson knew that his leaning 22-footer off one leg was better than another guy's semi-open 15-footer. Iverson dribbled and dribbled in search of the better shot, and now he's left without one. There are spots
where A.I. fits, but they just haven't opened up yet. As a New York official told David Aldridge last week, "Allen deserves to be on a playoff contender." Contenders, though, don't have the room or, more importantly, the need for Iverson in late November. Injuries, as we've seen in Philadelphia, change that dynamic. While key players getting hurt sounds like the most-likely scenario for an Iverson comeback, it's not the only one. Remember the Denver-New York brawl three years ago? Carmelo Anthony was suspended for 15 games and teammate J.R. Smith for 10. A day after the suspensions were announced, the Nuggets traded for Iverson. He almost single-handedly kept the team afloat, and Denver did make the playoffs. The Nuggets had a veteran coach (George Karl) able to deal with stars, and the front office set the ground rules (we're talking about practice) with Iverson from the beginning. The Iverson-Denver pairing worked, but it took a near catastrophe for it to come together. Is another desperate situation around the bend? Can Iverson and his ego afford to wait for someone else's misfortune?

Only Allen Iverson ... and Stephen A. Smith know for sure.


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