Allen Iverson has announced his retirement from the National Basketball Association.
Being a huge AI fan, this is certainly a sad day if the retirement lasts.
Iverson is definitely a love him or hate him type of guy but I’ve always thought most of his critics have been wrong, or rather too hard on him and often misunderstood him and his situation.
I don’t really care what anyone says though, Iverson is one of the best players the NBA has ever seen and I’m sure would still be a threat in the league right now, just as he was for the last 14 years. I find it hard to believe there aren’t contending teams who don’t want him on their roster and I’m sure he would be willing to come off the bench for a lot of them.
It’s pretty funny that people are hating on him so much, given that there are so many more players that have treated coaches, teammates, media and the game in general with a hell of a lot less respect, yet have barely been mentioned or bitched about in comparison to AI.
I’ve followed the NBA for 20 years and have seen some of the greatest players, moments and seasons and to me, AI ranks right up there.
His attitude and personality wasn’t perfect by any means but he was certainly targeted by the league and media and never once given a proper first chance, let alone a second chance.
The highlight for me was back in Philly when he took a bunch of scrubs to the finals in an MVP season. His play that year was simply stunning and reminded me of a young Jordan, the person AI was most often compared to in terms of sheer offensive domination and the amount of focus opponents would give him.
His agent has today been quoted saying that AI will always be remembered as a Sixer, despite playing for 3 other teams. I think a lot of his former Sixer teammates should really be thankful for AI because during his time there he was largely responsible for the big contracts they signed yet didn’t half deserve. He made the team and players look a lot better than they really were and put up with so much crap in Philadelphia while GM Billy King continued to fail at his job by never being able to get Iverson any real help and ruined any chance of it later by spending big money on average players. Yet AI continued to fight and match it with the best and unlike a lot of players of late, never complained about.
You only have to watch footage of him interacting with his family, friends and respectful teammates during USA and All Star teams to know the true AI.
And it was during the USA and All Star teams where we saw what he was truely capable of when surrounded by talented players. The many calls from the media and critics accusing AI of being a ball hog were largely unwarranted. Iverson only ever took as many shots as his team needed to. Sure it’s great to see players trust their teammates by passing the ball to them all game, but Iverson was a scorer and 90% of the teams around him couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a ball and anyone who was lucky enough to watch Michael Jordan from the beginning would have compared the two very closely in terms of the volume in which they shot the ball.
In a time when I have been questioning how the NBA has fallen so low in terms of the scarce real talent, the focus and crowning of players as great after a few good games, the refs often deciding games more than the players with either their bias or possible corruption and the ever increasing lack of respect and acknowledgement of the former great players by not only the younger fans but many of the younger players, the way in which Iverson has been outcast and treated really shouldn’t surprise me.
Yet it still does.
I hope that the retirement is short lived and AI finds a team he can help and which can help him in return because he is too good a player to not be playing big minutes in the NBA.