Overtime: Allen Iverson is Nobody’s 6th Man

By Melva N. Lloyd

After 13 years in the NBA, Allen Iverson has always made one thing clear: he does not come off of the bench.  Iverson was a stand-out player while at Georgetown, winning two Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards and was named Rookie of the Year in 1995. 

The 6-foot guard played for John Thompson for two years before deciding to leave his college career behind and enter the NBA Draft.  In 1996, he was selected first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers where he would spend ten years.  His rookie season alone proved to the naysayers that Allen Iverson knew a little something about basketball.  He led his team in points, assists and minutes which in turn generated another Rookie of the Year award and a spot on the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team. 

A.I. would lead the 76ers to the NBA Finals in 2001 (their first finals appearance since 1983), a season that gave him his first Most Valuable Player title; and although they would ultimately fall to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, Iverson experienced his most rewarding season that year. 

His fallout with former coach Larry Brown and the Sixers organization led to rumors of the point guard being fired from the only NBA team he had ever known, and in December of his 10th season he was sent to the Denver Nuggets where he would join Carmelo Anthony on a quest for a world championship. 

So let’s fast forward to 2009: Allen Iverson made a pit stop in Detroit to play for the Pistons, and now he is on his fourth NBA team (the Memphis Grizzlies).  Although the 10-time NBA All-Star is a veteran in the league, he was dealt to a team whose roster is made up of younger players like Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo; and by younger, I mean players who aren’t in their mid 30s and have the stamina to run up and down the basketball court for forty or more minutes. 

He signed a one year contract with the struggling team but missed most of the pre-season due to a partially torn hamstring.  Iverson made his debut for Memphis on November 2nd; he played for 18 minutes and scored eleven points but he did it as the team’s sixth man.   Since then, he has expressed his displeasure with being a bench player and he has expressed it so much to where the future Hall of Famer has been noticeably absent from the Grizzlies’ locker room.

Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins took Iverson’s departure as a sign that he is not coming back.  ESPN reported today that Iverson is experiencing serious family issues and that is what led to his decision to leave the team; there are even rumors about him retiring from the league.  But all Hollins wants is for the Hampton, Virginia native to quickly make a decision so he can focus on rebuilding his team.

Whether Iverson retires or not, that choice is left up to him and him alone.  But for now, NBA fans can sit back, relax and wait for the next episode of the Allen Iverson show.


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