Allen Iverson has endured the most turbulent season of his NBA career. He was traded, demoted, and humiliated all in a six month period. After failing to get out of the first round with the Denver Nuggets for two consecutive seasons, the Nuggets sent him to Detroit for “Mr. Big Shot” Chauncey Billups. The Nuggets became considerably better and efficient, finishing the season at 54-28 which was tied for a franchise record. The Nuggets advanced past the first round for the first time in 13 years.
Meanwhile, the Pistons were dealing with an identity crisis. After having a core nucleus together for the last 5 years, the newly acquired Iverson struggled to find his role with the team. Head Coach, Michael Curry was forced by GM Joe Dumars, to start Iverson over Rip Hamilton which led to bickering and an on-going debate regarding who should start. Coach Curry and Rip had a couple of verbal locker-room confrontations while plummeting to a 39-43 record and back-pedaling to the final playoff spot. Iverson was deactivated on April 3 due to a recurring back injury, which allowed Rip to resume his starting duties. Iverson sat at home injured, watching his Pistons get swept in the first round by Lebron James and the Cavs, while his former team was prospering and advancing under the leadership of Chauncey Billups.
Now, Allen Iverson, with a career scoring average of 27.1 points per game (5th all-time), is a free agent with very little suitors. The Heat, Clippers, Grizzlies, and Knicks all have some interest in his services this summer but no concrete offers have been made. Pat Riley and the Heat are reportedly willing to offer their $2 million bi-annual exception to Iverson in exchange for his services off the bench.
My take is, even with the horrible 2008-2009 season where Iverson averaged 17.4 ppg and shot 41% from the field, his production is still better than any other Heat player not named Wade! Riley has made it clear that he will not bring in anyone to start over Mario Chalmers. Chalmers is a backup point guard on any other team in the NBA! He had an okay rookie season, averaging 10 ppg, 4.9 apg, and 2 spg. He’s not a Derrick Rose or a Russell Westbrook (the top guards in his draft), he’s more of a Brevin Knight, and Brevin should not and would not start over Iverson ever! I agree with the offer that Pat Riley is willing to put on the table, but I do not agree with him taking away the opportunity for Iverson to compete for a starting job. That’s what we want our athletes to do, compete and force the coach to make the right decision.
Iverson has no one to blame for his situation, except for himself. He has been a ball-stopper, ball-hog, and a gambler on defense, but one thing I know is that Iverson has pride. All the critics who consider him done are setting the league up for a semi Wade-type 2009-2010 season. Iverson has never played with an accomplished player like Wade. Carmelo Anthony is talented but hasn’t done much in the league besides scoring the ball. Wade has done it all while leading his team to a NBA Finals Championship. Iverson must and will respect the fact that this is Wade’s team and he’d better ship-up or ship-out. I do believe that Iverson can and will put his pride to the side and be a good side-kick to Dwyane Wade, if given the opportunity. A bad situation like Detroit shouldn’t have Miami thinking that Chalmers is a better option.
Mr. Riley, please don’t listen to the critics of Iverson, look at game film! Look at the only 6’0 ft player in history to lead his team to the NBA Finals with a bunch of mediocre players. He’s not the same player as previous seasons, but he hasn’t lost much. Having Chalmers sit and compete with a Hall of Famer like Iverson would only enhance his future, continuing to have Chalmers compete with Chris Quinn is not positive productivity. I am not in any way a fan of Iverson; I’m a fan of common sense! You may dislike Iverson like people dislike Michael Vick, but if your starting point guard is Mario Chalmers and your starting quarterback is Kyle Orton, you need to really think about upgrading!
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Written by CHRIS HAYNES