Tag:Allen Iverson
Posted on: November 20, 2009 11:08 am
Edited on: November 20, 2009 4:10 pm

Iverson: If not New York, then where? (UPDATE)


Once you've been told "no" by the Knicks, I'm not sure where else there is to go. But I hear Europe is pretty nice this time of year.

The sad decline of Allen Iverson's once-brilliant career continued Friday when he was informed that, yes, there is an NBA player too controversial, too high-maintenance, and too wrong for the Knicks. And he was handed a mirror to help him figure out who that player is.

This isn't good news or bad news for the Knicks, who aren't going anywhere before July 1, 2010 with or without Iverson. But it's terrible news for Iverson, because New York might've been his last hope for a dignified exit from the NBA.

After the Knicks, the line of interested parties appears to be shorter than the line outside Edward Scissorhands' barber shop. The two most recent members of the cutting-off-nose-to-spite-face club -- Detroit and Memphis -- serve as Exhibits A and B in the perils that accompany one of the most talented, unique, and maddening players ever to suit up in the NBA.

What about the Magic, who just lost point guard Jameer Nelson for at least a month due to a knee injury? "I like where my team sits right now," GM Otis Smith told me Friday. The Nuggets, who enjoyed a mostly positive experience with A.I.? "Zero interest," said a person familiar with their plans. Iverson's former coach, Larry Brown, has been quick to call every team on his speed dial and recommend his former point guard/nemesis. But that says everything you need to know. Imagine getting a call from a colleague recommending that you hire someone. Aren't you just dying to ask, "If this guy's so good, why don't you hire him?"

The Knicks' decision to back away came hours after Iverson, released by the Grizzlies after playing only three games, cleared waivers Thursday night. At one point during the Knicks' deliberations, some members of the team's hierarchy, including coach Mike D'Antoni, were willing to take a chance on the multiple-time scoring champion as a way to infuse some life into a 2-9 team that is struggling to score points.

The tipping point was that the baggage and controversy Iverson would bring with him to the Knicks, a franchise trying to emerge from years of drama and negative publicity, outweighed the potential gains.

"I've always admired him," Knicks president Donnie Walsh told reporters at the team's Westchester County practice facility. "I think he'd be a great addition for a team that's in a different position than we're in, and I hope he gets picked up." 

D'Antoni said Iverson's desire to play 40 minutes a game, which was his undoing in Detroit and Memphis, wouldn't have worked.

"We just didn't think right now we wanted to have that dominant force on the team," D'Antoni said. "We're going to stick with the plan and it just wasn't the right situation. Allen is a great player, no doubt about it, but that's not the route we're going to take right now."

For the Knicks, that route is something that resembles sanity, which has been in short supply at Madison Square Garden for the past decade. If the Knicks had gone through with this with Iverson, you wouldn't have heard one word of criticism from me. Iverson would've made the Knicks watchable for the rest of this miserable season, and signing him wouldn't have affected the plans to clear cap space for 2010.

But I also have no problem with Walsh and D'Antoni looking into the eye of a franchise wrecking ball and concluding that the Knicks couldn't afford any more scrapes. If Isiah Thomas were still running things, the buzz up in Greenburgh, N.Y., would've been generated by an Iverson press conference capped off by his first day of practice. Under Walsh and D'Antoni, short-term fixes and moves motivated by short-sighted desperation are no longer requirements for the job.

Iverson, 34, would've provided a spark for the Knicks' moribund offense and generated fan interest in a team with no marquee star as the franchise limps through the last season of a salary-cap purge to prepare for the free-agent bonanza of 2010. But the Knicks, who've endured years of dysfunction, also are trying to turn the page on the kind of controversy, headlines, and distractions that have accompanied years of losing. 

While the team was deliberating Iverson's value over the past few days, a second source with knowledge of the team's strategy said it appeared likely the Knicks would go forward with a contract offer. But the source cautioned that there was the potential for "hang-ups" in the process. In the end, there may have been cause for concern on both sides. If Iverson didn't hear what he wanted to hear about his potential role with the Knicks, it was for the best that this didn't work out. 

So where else can he go? The Miami Heat have been mentioned as another potential suitor, but Dwyane Wade would have to sign off on such a controversial addition. A prolific scorer when in his prime, Iverson can still get to the basket and put up numbers. But it appears that his hopes of landing with a contending team are over; there were no takers over the summer when he opted to sign with the Grizzlies.

The Bobcats? Again, if Brown thinks signing Iverson is such a great idea, then he should go ahead and do it. The only problem is, Charlotte just acquired Stephen Jackson, another controversial scorer, and there's little reason to believe Iverson would be any happier in Charlotte than he was in Memphis.

Iverson's personal manager, Gary Moore, said recently that A.I. is determined to hook up with another NBA team this season and conclude his career on a positive note. But I keep going back to the moment last season in the visiting locker room in New Jersey, when Iverson vowed to retire before coming off the bench for another team. I've known him for nearly 14 years, so that statement didn't surprise me. "Playing every game like it's my last" has been the mantra that's sustained him. Now, that last game might've already come and gone.

Category: NBA
Posted on: November 19, 2009 3:44 pm

Why I love N.Y. with A.I.

Does Allen Iverson in New York make about as much sense to you as Eddy Curry working in a donut shop? I'm here to help.

A source with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Thursday that the Knicks are expected to offer Iverson a contract once certain issues are resolved. Iverson clears waivers at 6 p.m., and the source said there are potential "hang-ups" that could delay a meeting of the minds.

Despite A.I.'s ugly breakups with the Pistons and Grizzlies, the Knicks will be different for him. They have absolutely nothing to lose -- zero -- other than a few million dollars. And those millions are for this season, and this season alone. Iverson won't affect the Knicks' cap-clearing endeavors. They get a marketable talent, albeit one past his prime, who will finally be enthusiastic about the situation he's in. If Iverson can't get on board with finishing his career in New York as opposed to Memphis, then he's more hopeless than I think.

There's no way Iverson, 34, refuses to appreciate what an opportunity this would be. He will play in front of a full house on the biggest stage in basketball. He will play an up-tempo style that will allow him to handle the ball, but one that also will require him to move it, as well. My word of caution to Iverson is that the ball cannot stick in Mike D'Antoni's offense. But at least it will be in better hands with Iverson than with Chris Duhon.

From the Knicks' perspective, this goes beyond the desperation of a losing, boring team that needs to sell tickets until the 2010 fun begins. Yes, the Knicks need Iverson for his ability to produce a watchable sideshow to keep the mind-numbed masses interested for the rest of this otherwise abysmal season. But they also need a scorer, and a closer. Despite Iverson's age, stubbornness, occasional petulance, and addiction to ball-dominance, he can still do both of those things fairly well. Better than Larry Hughes and Toney Douglas, certainly. Better than Al Harrington, too.

Will Iverson's presence slow the growth of Douglas? That's a possibility. But I think D'Antoni can find 36 minutes a night for Iverson and still keep Douglas in the rotation enough. And facts are facts. Nobody's paying big money to go to the Garden and watch Toney Douglas.

Is Iverson 100 percent guaranteed to start with the Knicks? Hey, if he's terrible, he'll have to be man enough to recognize it and do what's best for the team. But this makes no sense without the assumption that a starting job will be Iverson's to lose, which is why Donnie Walsh said Thursday he wants to have "conversations" with Iverson before committing to the idea.

One way to make this work is to keep Duhon at the point with Iverson starting at shooting guard. That's been his best position the past few years, and it accomplishes a few things. It allows Iverson to run around screens to get his shots, as opposed to getting them off the dribble. The latter would bog down the offense and expose the step Iverson has lost; he simply can't get to the basket and finish like he used to. Besides that, such a move would keep Duhon, a team captain, involved in the offense in a way that takes shooting and dribble-penetration off his list of responsibilities. He'd become Eric Snow.

Is this the ideal scenario for both the Knicks and Iverson? Not even close. Iverson should've accepted that he's a bench player at this point in his career and signed with a contender. The Knicks hoped to be better than 2-9, and thus not in any hurry to make such a move. But desperation loves company, and to this extent, the Knicks and Iverson are perfect for each other. It's sad, in a way, but undeniably true.

Category: NBA
Posted on: November 16, 2009 7:48 pm

Iverson: What's next?

Now that Allen Iverson's career with the Memphis Grizzlies has come to its predictable end, the question is: What about the rest of his career?

Is there any career left?

Crickets were all I heard in my admittedly unscientific polling of NBA front office executives Monday night as to where Iverson might go next. Nowhere for a while, seems to be the consensus. But at some point, something will happen -- an injury, for example -- and A.I. will be back in play.

"Down the road, I think so," one front-office executive said. "I say someone will take the plunge."

But who? Depends on the circumstances. And if we've learned anything from Iverson's two most recent basketball experiences, any team picking up the phone had better be doing it for the right reasons. Iverson has made it quite clear he does not view himself as a bench player, even though I believe that's a role he could've thrived in with a contending team. But if there was ever an NBA player who was built to play one way, and one way only, it was Iverson. He's not changing.

Neither I nor the basketball minds I consulted can see any viable fit for Iverson at the moment. But things change. People get hurt. Championship contenders get anxious, and teams on the cusp of making the playoffs get dazzled by the potential revenue from a few home playoff dates. As I said, though: Proceed with extreme caution.

While still with the Pistons, Iverson said last season that he'd retire before ever coming off the bench for another team. He has remained true to the spirit of that threat. And indeed, retirement may turn out to be his only option. Does anyone see Iverson as the mercenary type who'd go get lost in the oblivion of some European league just to continue playing basketball? Not me. He loves basketball, but he loves being the center of attention. Starting and scoring and trying to do the things he's done for 13 years is what drives him, not merely lacing up his sneakers just for the sake of it.

I leave you with a scenario that is purely speculation, but it's speculation offered by an Eastern Conference front office source, so it has merit from that standpoint. It's also a scenario that I'd pay to see happen, as someone who has followed Iverson from his very first significant moment on an NBA court -- the rookie game at the '97 All-Star weekend in Cleveland.

What if the Lakers at some point in the next few months become afraid of the fact that Derek Fisher isn't getting any younger? What if they come to realize that Jordan Farmar is never going to be a big-minute option at point guard on a championship contending team? What if the stars aligned for Iverson and Kobe Bryant, who came into the league together and dueled famously in that All-Star rookie game, to go out together, too?

I'm not saying it's likely, or any more likely than another scenario that might present itself. But Iverson playing with Kobe and Ron Artest? Iverson being coached by Phil Jackson? Who among us wouldn't want to see that happen? Count me in. And in the meantime, don't hold your breath waiting for another team to make the same mistake Memphis made. 

Maybe I'm a hopeless holdover from the NBA that Iverson helped create after the 76ers made him the No. 1 overall pick way back in 1996. Maybe I'm not ready to see his career come to this kind of unceremonious end. But I'm not ready to say we've seen the last of the little fella with the cornrows. Retirement doesn't suit him any more than Memphis did. 

Somebody will take the plunge. They always do.

Posted on: November 16, 2009 5:21 pm

Report: Grizzlies to waive Iverson

ATLANTA -- As you can see, I'm in Atlanta, where Allen Iverson lives and where the front desk clerk who checked me into the Embassy Suites was named "Iverston." He's from Roosevelt, N.Y., like one of A.I.'s idols, Julius Erving.

Iverston smiled when I joked that his name is only one letter off from a certain unhappy point guard who is hanging around these parts. And he'll be here for a while, from the looks of things, as the Memphis Commercial Appeal has reported that the Grizzlies have agreed to waive the disgruntled former scoring champion.

Details are still emerging, but the move was a foregone conclusion once the Grizzlies came to terms with Jamaal Tinsley over the weekend. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley, whose idea it was to sign Iverson to a one-year, $3.1 million contract, then gave Iverson an ultimatum to decide whether he is returning to the team.

The question now is whether another team will take a chance on Iverson or whether he simply will do what he said last season he would do if confronted with the reality of no longer being an NBA starter: retire.

Posted on: November 7, 2009 9:37 pm

A.I. in Memphis was never going to end well

Allen Iverson has left the Memphis Grizzlies amid conflicting reports about whether it is for personal reasons or unhappiness with his role.

The accelerated news cycle demands immediate reaction, opinion, and conclusions. Sometimes these conclusions are drawn when athletes' personal lives are involved. Sometimes, those conclusions are dead wrong.

We don't know if anything serious is wrong in Iverson's life, other than the fact that he's not starting for the Grizzlies and has made his opinion about that abundantly clear. (Hint: He feels the same way about coming off the bench in Memphis as he did in Detroit.) We do know that, given Iverson's history, his incessant griping about coming off the bench, and his vow last season that he'd retire before doing that again, there's ample evidence for you to assume the worst.

Either way, Iverson flew to his home in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, hours before the Grizzlies were scheduled to play the Clippers in Los Angeles. This came after meeting with team owner Michael Heisley on Friday night and again Saturday morning, the Memphis Commercial-Appeal reported. The team described his return as "undetermined." That's an ominous word, but this has been an ominous and awkward union from the beginning.

It was never a good idea for the Grizzlies, who are 1-5 to no one's surprise and going nowhere, to hook up with Iverson at this point in his career. The warning signs were there in Detroit last season, even though Iverson was by no means the only one in the wrong there. I still believe Iverson could've helped a serious title contender if he was able to swallow his pride and accept a sixth-man role. He does not want to accept such a role, even if it meant getting the championship that has eluded him during an otherwise brilliant career. Why would anyone think he'd accept that role in Memphis, where the Grizzlies aren't even the best basketball team in their own city?

The point is, even if Iverson's excused absence from the Grizzlies is for a legitimate reason, how is anything going to change when he returns? It's not. You knew this wasn't going to end well, and now it appears to have careened into a ditch only six games into the season. Hate to say it, but both sides should've seen it coming.


Category: NBA
Posted on: September 15, 2009 6:41 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2009 10:44 pm

Nellie ... I mean, NBA ... fines Jackson (UPDATE)

Stephen Jackson's $25,000 fine for "public statements detrimental to the NBA" would be funny if it weren't so bogus in a fun police sort of way.

First, if $25,000 fines were assessed for all statements detrimental to the NBA, I'd be in trouble. Also, the world would be without poverty. All that fine money donated to good causes would be enough to feed everyone.

Second, I realize that technically players aren't allowed to publicly request trades. But really, what else would anyone write or talk about in the month leading up to the trade deadline if that rule were enforced in the strictest sense? The league's press release reminds us that Ron Artest was fined in 2005-06 for publicly requesting a trade. OK, that's one down and about 199 players to go.

I don't recall Kobe Bryant getting fined for his numerous public trade requests in the summer of 2007. (He wasn't.) Memory doesn't serve me on whether Allen Iverson was fined for demanding a trade in Philadelphia during the 2006-07 season. The league's thinking is that those players didn't directly, explicitly, and in so many words ask to be traded. But everyone knew what they were doing. (In Iverson's case, one theory is that he didn't go to the media with his trade demand; he went to the team and it leaked to the media. In Kobe's case, the official explanation for why he wasn't fined was that he recanted so quickly after making the trade demand.) 

This is all kind of silly, anyway. Overall, I'm OK with the fine -- as long as we call this what it is. It seems to me that the NBA is fining Jackson so that coach Don Nelson doesn't have to. Nellie doesn't want to cross one of his best players, and this way, Jackson can be mad at the NBA and not his coach. Makes sense to me.

One more thing: I don't understand how publicly requesting to be traded is detrimental to the NBA. Isn't that part of what makes the NBA fun?

UPDATE: Upon further reflection, here's the other side of that argument: In the year leading up to the most recent collective bargaining agreement, which was ratified in 2005, whiny players making public trade demands had become somewhat of an epidemic. So the league warned the players' union that it was going to begin cracking down on such statements, arguing that they hurt the image of the league. A few selfish, bratty players were painting the entire league with that brush. Now, when Jackson's fine seems to come out of nowhere, maybe that's because the league has been successful in curbing the public sniping. Me? I still find it fun.
Posted on: September 9, 2009 2:59 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2009 7:33 pm

Iverson to Memphis: Sad

It seems poetic that Allen Iverson announced his signing with the Memphis Grizzlies on Twitter. Think I'm too old? I'll break news on a medium that most 34-year-olds don't understand.

That's my A.I. Always tweaking (tweeting?) the doubters, never shy with the rhetoric.

Iverson in Memphis, a city that can barely support its NBA team with a league-worst average paid attendance of 7,570 last season -- is a sad bookend to an otherwise remarkable career. The problem with Iverson, though, is that the end will be much like the beginning and the middle. Too much sizzle and not enough substance.

Selfishly, I wanted something better for Iverson. So did he, presumably. I wanted him to swallow his pride and accept a reserve role for a contender. He didn't accept such a role in Detroit last season, then boldly proclaimed that he'd retire before coming off the bench ever again. He almost had to make good on those words, which came back to haunt him. No contenders came calling. Only teams desperate to squeeze the last few drops out of Iverson's uncanny ability to sell tickets.

One of the fascinating aspects of Iverson's Hall of Fame career has been his ability to connect with fans -- especially kids. No one who has watched Iverson for any substantial length of time can say that they haven't been struck by how hard he plays -- every night, every play. No one who has watched him can deny the ooh-and-aah factor. It's still there.

But if Iverson couldn't win with Toni Kukoc or Chris Webber, how is he going to coexist on the same floor with Zach Randolph? It promises to be one of the boldest and spectacularly doomed experiments of modern times. I suggest the following promotion to the Grizzlies' marketing department. It'll be a smash hit. Sign up a watch company -- Bulova, Movado, get your bids ready -- and see how many a lucky fan can smash with a sledgehammer during a timeout. No. 1, it's got to be better than the T-shirt toss, and No. 2, the Grizzlies now have the two biggest clock killers in the NBA.

Iverson gets a one-year deal from the Grizzlies, and at 34, it's sure to be his last. That's too bad. There was still a place for Iverson, who by his own doing has never gotten enough credit for his basketball IQ. His ability to score ... and score, and score ... combined with his knack for steals would've been valuable off the bench for a team that is close to championship contention. There could've been no better stamp on Iverson's career, no better way for him to quiet his critics, than coming off the bench with equal doses of scoring punch and humility to win his first NBA title in his last season. Obviously, that isn't going to happen in Memphis. What's worse, his presence is going to be beneficial only in the attendance column -- not the win column. The minutes and touches Iverson will demand undoubtedly will slow the growth of the Grizzlies' younger guards, who need the experience and the burn.

Will Iverson pass to Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley, or Darrell Arthur? Sure, because he knows they'll give it back. If I were Randolph, I wouldn't expect Iverson to be looking for me too often. Once the ball goes into the post for Z-Bo, it rarely finds its way out.

What do I hope? I hope Iverson can play the role of veteran mentor for a team that, despite its unfortunate surroundings, has built a pretty solid nucleus of young, inexpensive players. But I also take note of all the winning teams that took a pass.


Posted on: August 21, 2009 1:15 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2009 4:17 pm

Iverson gives play-by-play of his own demise

When Allen Iverson entered the NBA in 1996, people wore beepers. Seriously, Twitter Nation, to communicate with someone, here's what you did in 1996: You called their beeper number, listened for the beeps, punched in your phone number, and waited. Sometimes they'd call you back, sometimes they wouldn't.

It was slightly more effective than smoke signals, or rotary dialing.

Which brings us to the technical innovation of 2009 and how Iverson is using it to offer play-by-play of his own demise.

Iverson, a certain Hall of Famer coming off a $20 million-a-year salary who can't find an NBA job, has been waxing poetic about his comeback via Twitter updates. We call it a comeback because, well, Iverson does -- and also because he was for all intents and purposes retired down the stretch of a miserable stint with the Pistons last year. A proud 10-time All-Star, Iverson couldn't stomach coming off the bench for Michael Curry, who became only the latest coach to get fired after coaching A.I. Iverson went so far as to say that he'd retire for real before coming off another team's bench. But what he really couldn't stomach was the decline of his game. He's 34, his body has absorbed incalculable mileage, and he can't do the one thing he's always done better than anybody else -- get to the basket and score, by any means necessary.

Neil Paine of Basketball-reference.com analyzed Iverson's statistical decline and was spot-on in concluding that one of the problems is that while A.I. can still get to the basket, he's finishing with a lower percentage than he used to. That's what happens to players like Iverson when they get old; they don't fade away, they flame out like a comet.

I don't want to get too much into Iverson's sudden Twitter fetish. You can read the updates yourself. But the tone and volume of updates picked up noticeably this week, with A.I. saying that his "people" are telling him that he's "close to a deal." That was Wednesday morning. Still no deal.

Iverson also has floated the teams with whom he's apparently close to signing. "Waiting for the call," he wrote. "Charlotte, Miami, NY." Iverson, who has thrived off negative energy from his doubters since the moment he was drafted, also wrote, "If you think I am just going away, think again! ... I have heard all of the doubters, but they should know that I will not be broken."

Bobcats coach Larry Brown said this week that he'd gladly coach Iverson again, but didn't want to insult him with an offer that probably would be somewhere between the minimum and the mid-level exception. Miami? Why? As for the Knicks, we told you three weeks ago on this site that the Knicks had "zero" interest in Iverson. That remains true. Just ask the dozen media outlets that wrote it again this week.

Before you brand me an Iverson hater, think again (as A.I. would say). I've known him and covered him since his rookie year. I haven't liked everything he's done, but I've always liked him and enjoyed watching his career. For me, Iverson and Kobe have been my favorite post-Jordan players to watch. So if you're looking for A.I. bashing, or if you want to read someone who's hoping Iverson fails in his attempt to revive his suddenly dormant career, you've come to the wrong place.

I hope he succeeds. I hope he winds up somewhere that's a good fit, on a team that he can help. Some people are ready for the smiling, sanitized stars of the new NBA to take over and leave Iverson's rough public image and his innovative/frustrating/selfish game in the past. Not me. 

But in all the Twitter updates, amid all the bravado, I don't see the one line that Iverson needs to write. I don't see him stating that he'd accept a bench role, that he'd be willing to do what he could've done in Detroit -- which is allow his scoring gifts to impact the game as a reserve. If Iverson would say that, he might actually be getting some interest from teams other than the bottom-feeders whose intentions are really about the lowest common denominator: signing Iverson to sell tickets as opposed to signing him to improve their team.

I don't know how many more Twitter updates we'll see before Iverson signs somewhere. Maybe I'll page him and ask.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com