Tuesday, September 15, 2009

FU Self Face/Off: The Iverson Saga

Since I'm in my yin/yang, both sides of the spectrum mode, I'm going to write yet another post on my favorite player: Allen Iverson. I know FU seems to be flooded with AI posts and mentions; but since I've become indulged in the Basketball Realm as its scribe, his career has had more dramatic change than ever. Gone are the days of carrying franchises on his diminutive shoulders, slicing mountains and monuments with the sharpness of his crossover dribble. He's a journeyman now; trying to disprove the perceived notion that he's fallen from the ranks of the Elite.

Whenever an idea for a post starts formulating, it usually sparks two different types of reactions and opinions in me. Now each opinion in unedited and honest, but one is a little more controversy-based than the other. It's like "T.I. vs. T.I.P.," minus the southern accent and military arsenal. With that said, I'm going to share both opinions that arose once I heard that AI signed with the Grizzlies. The semi-politically correct one is after the random picture...

Welp, it's happened. The Little Shooting Guard That Could, the undersized perimeter player with an unbreakable will, the Braided Bringer of Buckets—Allen Iverson—has finally lost that proverbial step. Since his release from the Motor City, he has had the Clippers semi-interested in his services and had to practically beg the Grizzlies for a chance—and even they took a couple months to think about it before signing him. Even Larry Brown, the one coach able to fully utilize AI powers, wouldn't bring Iverson aboard because he didn't want to disturb the chemistry of his Bobcats team; despite said team in desperate of big-time scoring. Something has to be wrong with Iverson if bottom-feeders like the Bucks, Knicks, and Kings wouldn't give him a look. And yes, the claims of him being a bad teammate are starting to become legit. At first, he was all gun-ho about coming off the bench in Detroit so Rodney Stuckey's development wouldn't be stunted. Twenty games into Joe Dumars' experiment, and it was obvious Iverson's isolation-based game doesn't mesh with all the screens Rip runs around. It became more clear once Iverson went out with the back injury the first time, and Rip flourished without him.

The Pistons went from six straight Eastern Conference Finals to getting swept out the first round by the CrabHammer of Lebron. Chauncey Billups, who AI was traded for, grasped the attention of the often knuckle-headed Nuggets and led them to the Western Conference Finals. Billups proved he was behind Detroit's success, and established himself as one of the game's best leaders. And well, no one's associated Iverson with leadership.

This is what it has come to for Iverson. His lowest points per game total ever (18.5); and players like Paul Millsap, Ramon Session, and Hedo Turkoglu being more coveted than him. This is the beginning of the end.

And now...the other way I felt...

So the only team that wanted AI is the Grizzlies? Really? Those 50-loss teams couldn't use a prime scorer who is two years removed from averaging 33 points a game. That's thirty-three...for an entire season. Yes, Iverson is incapable of averaging 30 a game. Yes, it seems the countless reckless treks to the rim are now taking their toll on his frail frame. But there still aren't fifteen guards better than Iverson in the Association right now. He didn't fit in Detroit, and he still averaged 18+ ppg and 5+ apg. Do you know how many point guards did that last season? Four (Billups, Paul, D. Williams, and Harris). So don't act like Iverson can't play at an extremely high level in this League.

You want to know why I really think AI wasn't signed for awhile? Collusion. Not just from the owners, but from an order by Commissioner Stern himself. How else would the active leader in points per game be a free agent until September? Did I mention he's two years from averaging 33 points a game for a season? And you mean to tell me the Kings feel Beno Urich is a better option? Even if he has to come off the bench, what team couldn't use an unstoppable scoring threat with their second unit? Last I checked, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Charlotte, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Miami, and a few other teams don't have a hint of a scoring threat off the bench. Yet Iverson has to settle for Memphis, while Earl Watson is still employed.

No punches pulled, I think David Stern blames Iverson for the infusion of hip-hop into his precious League. Shorts became longer, fundamentals began to lack, and individualism became more outwardly expressed once The Answer was drafted. If you've been paying attention, Stern has slowly been trying to eliminate the individual style that today's pro hooper is displaying. I always point out that Basketball forces one to intertwine the game with his soul in order to prosper at it. It's why no matter how many times you watch "Better Basketball," you won't shoot the same way as J.J. Redick or dribble like Mike Bibby. One's "game" is as exclusive as his fingerprints. Yet it seems Commisioner stern doesn't want any of his players to express themselves. Eliminating the Band-Wade, the leg tights, and event he dress code to some extent are all ways to promote uniformity. This isn't football. Fans see the faces of the players all the time; so if a player wants to rock a colored band-aid under his eye then let him. Stern is trying to do away with that quietly. Why do you really think Lebron's shoes are ugly?

Anyway, glad to see Iverson was able to continue his career and not be totally frozen out the Association. I've given you guys a little insight into my thought process whenever a story like this occurs. As you can see, while I still don't give you the everyday, mundane, watered-down hoops analysis; I still hold back a little bit. Maybe I should stop that and just cut loose for real. I guess I will do that from now on. FU has just increased the pressure.


1 comment:

Mike Benjamin (TTK) said...

Honestly, I thought it was called the Wade-Aid, but it's neither here nor there. (Don't you hate when people pick apart a great piece over one possible mistake?)

And, I'm not kidding. Great work Tillman-san. I've got an Iverson piece perculating too, believe it or not.

The great thing about the economy's impact on the NBA is that guys like Earl Watson won't be signing for crazy head deals anymore. Well, except Andre Miller (why do they need him with Steve Blake?).

Iverson got caught with the horribly bad timing of the league as well (everyone realized you couldn't win with a small SG (Nate), and no one was willing to overpay).

If A.I. unleashes the beast, he'll get dollars next year. Even if he eviscerates O.J. Mayo in the process.