Tuesday , Dec , 12 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Say It Ain’t So, Iverson Don’t Go

Shame on you. You forgot.

What you forgot really isn’t even so much of a ‘what’ as it is a ‘who’. The person you, and the rest of the basketball public, have most likely forgotten is Allen Iverson. You’ve forgotten who he is, what he represents, and what he means to the city of Philadelphia. You have forgotten that he is the heart and soul of the Philadelphia 76ers, and nothing can ever rightfully change that.

Say It Ain't So, Iverson Don't GoIf my words sound like that of a man out to defend something, or more accurately, someone, that’s because they are and I am. In truth, you may not have forgotten AI or any of these things I’m talking about, but I think it’s safe to assume a great many deal of people have.

    It’s interesting how it can happen. It’s subtle, almost surprising even. How one can go from being an elite player in this league to being just another disgruntled player being worked as trade bait.

    That’s how you forgot, why you forgot. Not because you’re a hater, you may even be a fan. Haters may not even be hating because for all the press and attention Allen Iverson has been getting as of late, we haven’t really seen much of him. And that’s the point. People in the 76ers organization, people who can only be referred to as the infamous ‘they’, want to see Allen Iverson go away. They want you to forget.

    Fans are fickle and so is the media, it’s their nature and you can’t blame either for that. And like with so many people, you take something away from them, they may complain at first (unless they wanted it gone), but soon, as they can’t see it or hear it, they stop being mindful of it at all. When people aren’t mindful of something, they don’t care about it.

    It’s an extremely simple, yet subtle formula that’s meant to do one
thing: make Allen Iverson as tradable as possible, by making his supporters forget the good things he’s done, and make his detractors forget the bad.

    For as long as I can remember there have always been rumors of trading Iverson, but nothing that ever looked like it would develop. Just as recently as this past week, however, that all changed. It changed when Allen Iverson reportedly demanded to be traded, after years of bad management and at times worse coaching.

    I have to admit, upon hearing the news, it didn’t really resonate with me. I shrugged it off as just more of the same. The Sixers are struggling, Iverson ‘demands’ a trade, or the team starts looking to ship him off somewhere, but in the end they always kiss and makeup. It’s all but certain that won’t be happening this go around.

    Allen Iverson is going to be traded, but that doesn’t make it right.

    It’s kind of hard to mount a ‘defense’ of Allen Iverson in this case. After all, he wants to be traded, right? Yes, and if he’s relieved of the living hell that is the 76ers and their utterly incompetent management, by his own request, that’s what we would call ‘right.’ But understand this: the circumstances of Iverson’s impending departure are nothing but flat out wrong, and he deserves so much better.

    Players like Allen Iverson, competitors like Allen Iverson, deserve nothing less than to leave the team they gave everything to in retirement, with a ring, and a parade as they go. But than that’s only in an ideal world. We don’t live in an ideal world.

    Instead what Iverson is getting is a quick shuffle out the back door. After ten years of giving his heart, soul, and body to the 76ers franchise, all he’s getting in return is a ‘good luck and get the fuck out.’ And that just isn’t right.

    If Iverson demands a trade, as all reports have said he has, then that’s a request that deserves to be honored. But what is absolutely not okay is for the Sixers to go on pouting about it in what can only be described as the NBA’s cover for an immature temper tantrum.

    If a player wants to be traded, trade him. This idea of, ‘lets sit him down while we wait for a good deal’ comes directly from the same kind of mind that would put clear plastic wrap over your toilet seat after you hack sawed a leg in one of the dining room chairs. It’s one of the most petty and despicable ways of getting back at a player that you can find, and Billy King wasted no time in throwing Iverson a sucker punch.

    If you want to harp on AI for ‘bailing’ on his team and asking for a trade, go right ahead. Though I’m not sure he really had any other choice. For someone who is undoubtedly a super star and all time great player, talks of trading him have always come too soon and far too often. If you ask me, the idea was always to force Iverson out, even if that meant driving him to ask out. Debate that theory if you will, but what is not up for debate is that a player of Iverson’s caliber and a competitor of his level should never be treated like some second rate role player or a perennial personnel plague.
There have been plenty of issues, on and off the court, that have led to this, but none of it should suggest that this is anything other than a young man making a decision about his career. Why the Sixers’ management can’t act like adults and treat it like that is beyond me.

    I could run you down a list of Allen Iverson’s credentials, a list that would have multiple scoring titles, an MVP, All-Star bids, scoring records, and even a miraculous trip to the NBA Finals. But those things, the accolades and records, those are only the things Iverson has done, that isn’t who he is.

    Allen Iverson is a culture. Allen Iverson is hip-hop on hardwood. Allen Iverson is a spirit, a demeanor, and a resiliency that every person on the streets can relate to. Allen Iverson is the hope for every young kid in the ghetto with a ball in his hands and a dream in his heart. That’s the man we call AI.

Now quite honestly, that all may have nothing to do with basketball, or Billy King, or trade value, or the 76ers’ record, but who Allen Iverson is, is what we can’t forget, it’s why we can’t forget. Iverson isn’t Ron Artest, so let’s stop acting like he is. There is no logic on God’s green earth that says the Sixers are better with Iverson off the court, and likewise having him sit isn’t about to help his trade value. Again, he is not Ron Artest. He was not, and will not hurt his own trade value or the team’s record by playing.

But of course, ‘they’ want you to forget. They want you to forget who Allen Iverson is, so they can tell you who he is. They want you to forget the magnificence of his basketball abilities, so they can tell absurd lies of how he was actually hurting the team.

I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Allen Iverson, but if I did, I doubt I’d ask him for an autograph or an interview. I think I would just shake his hand, give him a pound, tell him how much he’s meant to me, and the game, and above all else remind him, that not everyone has forgotten.