NBA / Dec 17, 2010 / 10:00 am

Iverson Can’t Go Out Like This

So with the Brett Favre ending his NFL iron man streak and Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies (which I’m loving, by the way) dominating the headlines lately, I felt a little sports overkill. This all changed when I learned my childhood hardwood idol would be playing and I could catch him online.

That’s right, Allen Iverson, who has had his share of troubles this year, would be playing for his Turkish club team Besiktas for the world to see. This excitement quickly diminished into disappointment upon hearing news of A.I. sitting out because of an ankle injury. Really? This from a guy who was a walking injury report, yet would still lace them up? I guess it really has come to this for one of not only the game’s greatest little men, but greatest players period.

This made me reflect on what was. The passion Iverson presented on the court. I want that feeling back. That feeling of watching an NBA game and feeling the energy as if you were on the sacred hardwood. If you didn’t grow up around the Philadelphia area in 1996, then you won’t understand what I’m talking about. But let me fill you in.

Iverson breathed life into the Sixers franchise. This was a franchise that fell off dramatically after the glory days of Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Moses Malone, Bobby Jones, Mo Cheeks and Charles Barkley. Fans now had Shawn Bradley, Dana Barros and Clarence Weatherspoon to look up to. Oh, let me not forget about Derrick Coleman and Jerry Stackhouse.

When the Sixers selected Iverson with the first pick in the 1996 draft, the game would forever change. Well, at least for me. This is when I really started to catch the basketball jones. I remember when I opened up a Reebok sneaker box and laid eyes on AI’s first signature shoe, The Question. The body of the shoe was white but the blue tip made it one of the best hoop sneaks in the game. What Iverson did in these sneaks sealed the deal for me.

Here was a 6-foot (maybe), 160-pound (maybe) guard making fools out of giants. Grabbing rebounds, dribbling full-court and dunking the ball over dudes was an amazing sight from the kid from Georgetown by way of Virginia. LeBron makes this play look routine, but “Bubba Chuck” was doing it in a much smaller frame. No one was safe, not even the game’s greatest, Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

The play still resonates in my mind. I really couldn’t understand or put into words what happened. Did he really just make MJ look like a fool? I mean, A.I. had The Greatest rocking back and forth and had the audacity to nail the two just above the charity stripe. I still have the original taping of that play and find myself popping in the VHS to recapture that feeling again.

That sight and other countless highlights (A.I. stepping over Tyronn Lue in Game 1 of the Finals against the Lakers in 2001 may be my favorite moment) gave way to disheartening news this summer. NBA teams shut Iverson out. I saw Darius Miles and Antoine Walker get another chance, but not A.I.? Here are some numbers recapping his career: 17th on the NBA’s career scoring list (24,368 points), four-time scoring champion, regular season and All-Star Game MVP’s, and he led the 2001 Sixers (who had no business making it very far in the postseason) to the Finals before falling to the Lakers. The fact that a future Hall of Famer could not even get a training camp invite is beyond me.

Yes, I will admit it; A.I. has not helped his case. There were the reports of kicking his wife out of the house naked and pulling a gun out on guys while looking for her. There were the rumors of his gambling issues while in Detroit, and yes, he really did say “practice” 24 and a half times during the infamous press conference. But in this world of second chances, it seems the sports world is willing to give three, four and even five chances.

Maybe it’s just my passion for the man I grew to idolize. Maybe I’m just in the redemption mood seeing what Michael Vick has done with the Philadelphia Eagles. Maybe there is no place for a Hall of Famer in the league. I guess A.I. has worn out his welcome. I may not get to see A.I.’s passion in an NBA uniform again. At least I have memories. I just don’t want my last memory being Allen Iverson sitting out.

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  • Orange

    <– Allen Iverson stan.

  • http://dimemag.com money$tackz

    Iverson deserves what he gets I’m not hating his one of da best little men 2 lace them up but there has to be a reason why all 29 teams don’t want him

  • lifep

    I like Iverson too, but he was given numerous second chances (Memphis, Detroit, and back in Philly). He’s burned too many bridges (from a GM’s perspective) to be given another chance. What really buried him was his unwillingness to play the 1 (and be more Jason Kidd and less vintage AI.) Theoretically, he should be someone’s backup PG well into his late 30s.

  • karizmatic

    What you know about Bubba Chuck? I was sad to see that he wouldn’t be playing in the NBA but seeing as how he’s not exactly lighting it up with his team…maybe he just doesn’t have what it takes to play in the league anymore. I don’t know. I’d like to see him back in the NBA. That’s my dude.

  • Eric

    Iverson’s team, Besiktas, was officially eliminated from Europe’s second tier level competition (the league below the Euroleague level) yesterday. They did not make it past the first stage of the season, the group stage.

    Besiktas finished dead last in their group.

    So far, this has replaced the Olympiacos-Josh Childress signing as the biggest bust/flop signing in European basketball history.

  • zeitgeist

    Jonathan Marshall,

    quit your hand-wringing, ‘bring back the old days’ whining… It is a waste of time….

    Allen Iverson can achieve GLOBAL legendary status if he gets his act together and plays at just half-speed…

    You clearly do not understand the fanaticism that comes with basketball on the Europen continent….

    The United States had their chance for 17 yrs, if they are going to treat this Hall of Famer like this, then so be it…

    But if he keeps his head screwed on right (big IF), he can make a name for himself in a market that may have less $$ but has global kudos – and there is no price for global kudos…

  • JAY

    As already stated, I’m a fan and big supporter of AI but he’s sleeping in the bed he made. If the GMs and/or coaches are shutting don’t want anything to do with him, there’s a reason. I hate the fact that it’s happening, but I also realize Iverson did this to himself. It sucks and it should be a lesson to every youngster growing up today that you just can’t act like you’re a big deal all the time and need to treat people with respect.

  • yoda

    he had more than second chance and he blew it. and when i saw him playing no D for besiktas, i think he wasted last chance he got.

  • bobby stew

    So Besiktas is eliminated? Does that mean there season is over? And aren’t they supposed to play a do-over of some past game because of a clock problem? Someone please let me know

  • control

    Iverson CAN go out like that, because he’s such a stubborn egotistical fool that he can’t change his game to match what is needed by his TEAM. Other than being one of the most selfish jackers in history, what has this guy really done? He was a tiny guy scoring (very inefficiently) in the paint against bigger guys…he was amazingly quick and had the best court vision that was never used at all. All this guy has done is appeal to tiny lil’ fucks who dream of banging in the paint, and making them all play like lil’ iverdouches and ruin pickup games across the entire WORLD. Fuck Iverson!

  • Promoman

    @ control

    Thank you. Iverson taught every short player, no matter how fucking sorry and/or lazy they are, that their job is to shoot and dribble as much as possible, play as little defense as possible, single handedly/damn near single handedly lose games, and walk around with false swag.

  • JBaller

    Unfortunately he’s in a no win situation now. If he bails on Turkey before his two years are up it’ll be just one more team that he has burned recently and no NBA team will take him. If he rebuilds his rep by playing hard over there, he’ll be too old to come back when his two years are up.

    No question, his skills and heart made him one of the greatest, but he has almost no shot at a comeback.

  • balllllin

    He should be in NBA.

  • Lee

    Iverson is not one of the greatest players of all time. He’ll be forgot about in 5 years.

  • Lee

    Also, Tony Parker is a much better player for smaller guys to watch and learn from. 50% compared to 42%

  • mdsd

    in all fairness, Iverson’s shooting percentage bests Chaunceys…