A great deal of ink will be spilled re-telling the Allen Iverson story. He is one of the best talents to have played the game of basketball. Like so many former stars, Iverson is not fading away gracefully. Having recently signed a one-year contract with the Memphis Grizzlies, basketball fans can only hope that he doesn't completely tarnish his well-deserved reputation. He is, after all, one of the best basketball players of all time.
Following an early season trade from the Denver Nuggets to the Detroit Pistons last year, Iverson began his true descent into mediocrity. I, along with countless other fans, found it almost too sad to watch. His style of play did not suit the Pistons and he eventually became a reserve. This Memphis chapter to the Iverson story has the makings of an inglorious end to what has been a marvellous career. Odds are things will turn ugly because of the nature of the Memphis franchise.
This team is lost in the proverbial sea, without a rudder or a paddle. They seem to be pulling in all directions, at once deciding to invest in young players with the goal of being a good team in several years and at the same time trading for the NBA malcontent veteran Zach Randolph. Now there is no rhyme or reason to how the team is being put together. In truth, I am fascinated to see how long it will take for this team to implode.
I am shocked that Iverson would subject himself to this nonsense. While Iverson sets himself up for failure I prefer to remember him in his heyday, breaking away up the court, slashing towards the hoop and hurling his little frame against the NBA's physical specimens. Iverson looked like he had no business playing in the NBA. While obviously small and slender, he held his own with incredible skill and speed.
Coaches and scouts label players such as Iverson as volume shooters. He is at his best when he is constantly putting up shots rather than picking his spots to shoot throughout the game. Purists deride this style of player because they disrupt the flow of the game. While valid, these criticisms overlook the fact that scorers like Iverson go on scoring points that are a wonder to behold and entertaining.
One of my first assignments in the NBA was to cover the 2001 All-Star Game in Washington, DC. Iverson led the Eastern Conference to a 111-110 victory, scoring 15 points in the final nine minutes. It was the most thrilling All-Star game of any sport that I have attended. I approached the man before the game with great trepidation. I was led to believe that he was a difficult person. As is often the case, contrary to the prevailing opinion of journalists, Iverson seemed like a nice guy.
It was hard to believe that someone so small could dominate the NBA. I then spoke with his mother Ann, who was hilarious. While it has been some time since that chat, I specifically remember her telling me that she knew her boy Allen was going to be a star because she had been a great talent before she became pregnant with her son at the age of 15. Ann continued to say that when she saw the baby boy, she knew by the length of his wingspan that he was going to be a basketball player.
These Iversons were an unlikely duo but refreshing nonetheless. Partially reckless, Iverson also had incredible courage. He was a giant of a player, trapped in the body of the every man, blessed with the speed of a lightening bolt. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Iverson was the sort of unique athlete that just does not come around very often. His talent will be missed. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org