Saturday , Apr , 04 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Back or bench? Why Allen Iverson wasn’t ‘The Answer’ for Detroit Pistons

Pride is a double-edged sword. It can help a skinny, rowed-out kid from the streets of Virginia have a Hall of Fame NBA career. It can also cloud judgment and prevent that very same kid from making good decisions as an adult …
Such is the story of Allen Iverson. Like something out of Marvel or DC Comics, his greatest strength is his greatest weakness.


Back or bench? Why Allen Iverson wasn't 'The Answer' for Detroit PistonsPride is a double-edged sword.

 It can help a skinny kid from the streets of Virginia have a Hall of Fame NBA career. It can also cloud judgment and prevent that very same kid from making good decisions as an adult.

Such is the story of Allen Iverson. Like something out of Marvel or DC Comics, his greatest strength is his greatest weakness.

Pride propelled Iverson and his blue-collar 76ers into the NBA Finals. And pride landed him the MVP trophy and, arguably, the title as the game’s greatest little man. That same pride fuelled his mistakes. The outbursts. The swagger. And who can forget the “We talking about Practice” tirade.

Fast forward to 2008-09. The critics claim Iverson’s sense of self-importance has reared its ugly head again. They allege the combo guard shut down his season prematurely rather than accept fewer minutes as Detroit’s sixth man. The back injury was an out. Nothing more.

What was the real reason for The Answer’s departure? The back? Or the bench?

The case for the back …

In Iverson’s defence, a serious injury was likely coming. For such a physically small player, he always played an all-out style. It was only a matter of time before Karma punished his fearlessness.

Factor in age. The generation that idolized Iverson’s James Dean rebelliousness has grown up. Like their hero (or anti-hero), they ache after pick-up runs and understand a post 30 Iverson can’t beat father time forever.

Plus, medical reports don’t lie. After struggling to find his way with the Pistons, Iverson did sit out a significant stretch of games with a back injury. Of course, the team won without their newest addition, which created today’s controversy.

The case for the bench …

Coaches tailored their schemes to match his skill-set. Remember, Iverson has always enjoyed option 1 status, except in Denver where he co-starred with Carmelo Anthony. When schemes broke down, Iverson would isolate his man at the top of the key.

 

(Yeah, that’s on MJ)

But Detroit expects its stars to sacrifice. From the Bad Boys to the 2004 World Champions, the sum was, and still is, bigger than the parts. Iverson was expected to tone down his one-man act and join the ensemble.

The reality is something different. Iverson’s individual style has been at odds with his new collectivist club. With the team stumbling, the former All-Star became the scapegoat for fans, media, and even drew criticism from former Pistons like Bill Laimbeer. 

“They are structured as a 5-man basketball team… where everyone knew each other very well. Iverson is a different kind of player, he has to have the ball in his hands all the time. It’s difficult to put that kind of square peg in a round hole, and they have really struggled with him on the court.” MLive

Recently, the situation got awkward with Iverson complaining to the media. Player and team agreed it was best he stay on the injured list until the season ends. Come July, Iverson is an unrestricted free agent and bolts town

Bottom Line: Nobody except Iverson and the team know why he isn’t playing. Here is what we do know: The Answer’s future is shaky. Clearly, he won’t sign with another established team this summer and will likely finish his career as a gate draw in a struggling market. If this happens, blame pride.

Back or bench? Why is Iverson not playing for Detroit? Get at us in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe the blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of Armuro.