Is Allen Iverson a team player? Who would have thought that AI's 2000-2001 season would have been the pinnacle of his career? Yes, Iverson has to be one of the best under 6 foot players to ever play the game. He is pound for pound one of the toughest players to play the game, and he will go down in history as one of the best scorers in the game. The question becomes, is Iverson a team player?
Let's get this on the table quickly, I am an Iverson apologist. Loved him at Georgetown, loved him when he crossed up MJ (watch the video), loved him when he carried that Sixers team to the NBA Finals against Shaq and Kobe, but now that great career seems to be ending in Memphis of all places.
We all know that the epitome of a team was that Larry Brown coached Sixers team. That was the first time that a team had been built around Iverson that would highlight his abilities and provided that team with a chance to win every night. Think about it, who was on that team? Theo Ratliff until he got hurt and then the Sixers were able to get Dikembe Mutumbo. The rest of the team: George Lynch, Aaron McKie, Tyrone Hill, Eric Snow, Jumaine Jones, Kevin Ollie, and Todd MacCullough.
Since then, Iverson has been traded to Denver, Detroit, and finally signed by the Grizzlies (the only team to offer him a deal) this year. There have been knocks on AI about him holding the ball too much, gambling on defense, and just not willing to put in the time to practice.
Now we get to 2009 and we see Iverson not accepting a role coming off the bench. That 2000-2001 season is a distant memory and with the additional 8 years on AI's body, shouldn't he, for the team, come off the bench to help the team? Iverson has been quoted as saying he doesn't feel like he's a bench player, that he's a starter. At some point in our careers we have to know that we aren't the the player that we used to be, or the best player on the court, even MJ realized that.
Just a note to AI. We still love the AI from years ago, but you are in the waning years of your career. Come off the bench for the Grizzlies and you can get your 20+ points a night. But please don't be a distraction and cause yourself an early retirement. I think you still got game, you think you still got game. Prove it to us. Answer the question that many people already have of you, you know, the rhetorical one.
Can Iverson make it in Memphis? Have we seen the last of AI in the NBA? When do you know it's time to hang it all up? Can he be a team player?