Iverson received another thunderous ovation, with the fans left chanting “MVP!” as his face was shown on the big screen later during the game. Apparently, the playoff atmosphere has Iverson yearning for a return.
In a second quarter interview with ESPN’s Lisa Salters, Iverson was asked about whether he is retired or not. He said, “I’m not using that word. I wanna play basketball so bad. The way it is right now, I’ve accepted the fact [the NBA] may not happen, but I still want to play basketball. If I can get an opportunity to where it’s gonna make me happy at the end of my career, I’ll take that opportunity.”
So this is what it’s come to? An 11-time NBA All-Star, six-time All-NBA performer and four-time league scoring champion has accepted the fact that his return to the NBA is unlikely? Iverson says he wants to play basketball again, but if he wants an opportunity to make him happy, how is anywhere but playing in the NBA going to satisfy that feeling? But then again, Iverson may have concluded there are doubts about his attitude – which is what ousted him from the league to begin with.
Let’s be clear, this has nothing to do with Iverson’s infamous “Practice!” speech; it was his unwillingness to get accustomed to a new role. His demise began during his tenure as a member of the Detroit Pistons during the 2009-10 season. He had missed 16 games due to a back injury and after his return, then-Pistons Head Coach Michael Curry used him off the bench. A disgruntled Iverson complained about minutes. In an interview, he emphatically stated: “I’d rather retire than do this [being a reserve] again. I can’t be effective playing this way.”
Iverson did not return to the Pistons and instead signed a one-year contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. However, after only three games played, his contract was terminated by mutual agreement. Iverson had struggled to garner playing time, which once again led to his displeasure about being a bench player.
Since then, Iverson returned to play for the Philadelphia 76ers where he appeared in 25 games. Unfortunately, he had to care for his daughter that was battling health issues, so Iverson didn’t return to the team. His last stop was in a Turkish Basketball league playing for Besiktas Milangaz in 2010.
It’s unfortunate that this is what’s holding Iverson back. He shouldn’t be ridiculed for his actions towards being a reserve player, especially considering the teams Iverson had to come off the bench for. A player of his caliber did not deserve to come off the bench for an O.J Mayo, Arron Afflalo or Will Bynum. Iverson considered this a slap in the face.
But that was the past and Iverson realizes he is 36 years old now. Starting is out of the question. He is focused more than ever on chasing that ever-so-elusive first championship. If he is to return to the NBA, it MUST be to a championship contender. Likely fits would be the Heat, Thunder and Celtics (barring changes). You know what, while they are not a contender, the Sixers could use his services again. The team could definitely use his scoring prowess.
At the end of the day, what fans and analysts need to realize is that Iverson’s problem with coming off the bench could have had to do with not doing so for a championship contender. Do you think Iverson would complain if he were a bench player on the Celtics or Lakers? He would be a fool if he did.
Hopefully, Iverson gets the opportunity to sign with a title contender. Back in his prime, Iverson arguably had the least amount of help any superstar has ever had. His ball hogging was justified. He’s too great not to have won at least one championship. Say what you want about Iverson, but he always showed up to play. He gave every ounce of sweat on the basketball court trying to win. He deserves another opportunity to capture a championship.
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