Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Allen Iverson is Right to Deny the D-League

Allen Iverson's future never included the D-League. (

Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan and scored roughly 24,368 points over a 14-season spread in the NBA. A 13-time All-Star, Iverson is also a basketball pariah worldwide refusing to accept a smaller role during his last stateside contract and leaving Turkish club Besiktas to undergo calf surgery, never to return and play out the remainder of his two-year, multi-million-dollar contract. He is still holding out for another shot on an NBA court that will likely not ever appear. In spite of his hopes – and his checkered history – Iverson’s recent dismissal of the Texas Legends’ offer to join them in the D-League is no surprise.

Iverson, like most professional athletes, has a high opinion of himself. One almost must to perform on such a large stage. Though it may look like hubris (and rightly so), his move to turn down the Legends’ offer was the right one to make. The team – the Dallas Mavericks’ D-League affiliate co-owned by Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson – has made splashy signings since its inception in 2010, having rostered players such as Greg Ostertag, Dan Gadzuric and Chris Douglas-Roberts and recently employing Rashad McCants and Delonte West (who reneged on his deal). Several of these players have earned 10-day contracts based on their play with the Legends including 37-year-old point guard Mike James, who parlayed his second 10-day bid into a guaranteed contract with the Mavs.

James’ name doesn’t carry the stigma of the 37-year-old the Legends tried to scoop last week, though. Iverson is a former MVP and scoring champion. He also led the league in steals for two seasons, in 2002-03 and 2004-05. But he has always been a high-usage player and a volume shooter, getting his career average of 26.7 ppg by making 9.3 shots on 21.8 attempts per game. Moreover, Iverson is an underwhelming three-point shooter (his career-best 36 percent came in 2009-10 when he attempted only 25 triples) and unless the man who once berated the idea of practice has changed that, he is not a reliable spot-up option. Iverson has not played professional basketball in two years and, in a comeback, he would be forced to get open shots by relying on speed, a formerly consistent tool in his arsenal that is surely fleeting due to age, injuries and time away from the professional game.

By accepting and admitting his past mistakes while turning down the Legends last week, Iverson showed a maturity that was missing as recently as 2010. While some don’t believe Iverson’s presence would help theD-League or the NBA at large, there are sects of fans who believe Iversonshould still be playing in the Association. Signing with the Legends under the guise that it could accelerate his return to the NBA would be unfair to his diehard followers and to Iverson himself.

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