Sunday , Aug , 30 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Allen Iverson made Billy King and Philadelphia 76ers better

For years, I’ve argued Iverson should accept a lesser role with a playoff team. This would mean less minutes, money, and shots, but an opportunity to play meaningful basketball in May or June. Any chance at joining a contender as, say, sixth-man ended with the fiasco in Detroit. With few options available, Iverson will now sign with a mediocre team and turn the offense into his all-you-can-shoot buffet …


Allen Iverson made Billy King and Philadelphia 76ers betterBreaking NBA news mixed with analysis …

Their News:
“Allen never made the people around him better in the first place, because it’s always about Allen,” King told the Observer. “Everything is about Allen, and it can’t all be about Allen at this point in his career. He’s no longer that intimidating figure who can just blow by everybody. So he’s got to do other things, and I’m not sure he will.” (Billy King, former GM of the Philadelphia 76ers, via The Charlotte Observer.com)

My Gut Reaction:
On the one hand, I agree with King.

For years, I’ve argued Iverson should accept a lesser role with a playoff team. This would mean less minutes, money, and shots, but an opportunity to play meaningful basketball in May or June.

Any chance at joining a contender as, say, sixth-man ended with the fiasco in Detroit. With few options available, Iverson will now sign with a mediocre team and turn the offense into his all-you-can-shoot buffet.

So King is right. The results in Charlotte, Memphis, or anywhere else Iverson lands will be mixed because he isn’t quite the player who led Philadelphia to the 2001 NBA Finals. And King may also be right when claiming Iverson hasn’t accepted his relative decline from great to very good.

On the other hand, I disagree with King. For most of his run in Philadelphia, the tiny combo guard made everyone around him better: teammates, coaches, and even one very controversial suit.

Iverson isn’t Jason Kidd or Steve Nash. As a ball dominating 2-man, he doesn’t make those around him better through his passing. However, Iverson’s ability to score allowed several teammates with limited skill-sets to establish themselves as top role players.

For instance, Eric Snow never evolves into a respected, pass-first point guard without Iverson covering his offensive shortcomings. Same with lockdown defender Aaron McKie and post Todd MacCulloch. Both earned millions of dollars by establishing themselves as role players on Iverson‘s squads.

Make no mistake about it, this was a reciprocal arrangement. Snow, Mckie, MacCulloh, and others sacrificed shot attempts, so Iverson could score in bunches. And, for a time, it propelled the 76ers to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Iverson and coach Larry Brown had a love-hate relationship, but they brought out the best in each other. Their differences are now water-under-the-bridge and, at least publicly, these two seemed enthusiastic about the opportunity to link up with the Charlotte Bobcats.

No doubt about it, Iverson certainly made King a better executive. ‘The Answer’ filled arenas, sold millions of jerseys, and, good or bad, gave the 76ers a global following. Often times, the Iverson phenomenon covered King with ownership when he drafted poorly, overpaid free agents, and swung bad trades.

I think Iverson is a special talent. And I think his talent made Philadelphia’s players, coaches, and even King, himself, better.

Did Iverson make those around him better in The City of Brotherly Love? Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts and follow Oly on HoopsVibe and Twitter. Image provided courtesy of OzsomeRookies