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Thursday, November 26, 2009

If you retire AI's #3, it better go up with Velcro ...

The major news report this evening came from Philadelphia where former NBA columnist Stephen A. Smith released a statement from former NBA All-Star Allen Iverson, announcing Iverson's plans to retire from the NBA. The 10-year NBA All-Star guard, who made stops in Denver and Detroit before playing only three road games for Memphis this season, walked away from his contract with the Grizzlies and was later waived by the team.

I will believe that AI is "officially retired" when he is still un-signed come the "dog days" of the NBA season this January or early February, a few weeks after the 10-days contracts are open season. Instead, I would predict that Iverson signs up with an NBA team desperate for help in the scoring and attendance columns.

It's been all downhill for the former 76ers star since he forced a December, 2006 trade to the Denver Nuggets. In that deal, the 76ers acquired guard Andre Miller and forward Joe Smith, along with two first-round draft picks used in the 2007 NBA Draft. Surprisingly, the two draft picks were for marginal players acquired and quickly shipped out during draft day deals where one provided Philadelphia with forward Jason Smith. Smith, the only player left standing from the blockbuster Iverson trade, started his first game on November 25 when the Sixers had two veteran starters sidelined and Smith filled in for power forward Elton Brand.

After the move to the NBA's Western conference outpost in the State of Colorado, Iverson failed to meld with Denver's offense which was full of motion schemes favored by Coach George Karl. The Nuggets figured to be a perfect match for Iverson's high-octane, jump-shooting skills but he joined the team immediately after suspensions to Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, then never found the chemistry necessary to blend in with Karl's offensive sets. Then, after the unsuccessful stint in the Mile High city, Iverson was shipped to Detroit.

In a surprising move in November, 2008, Detroit's Joe Dumars sent forward Antonio McDyess and guard Chauncey Billups to Denver is a deal that plotted some $20-$22 million in cap room after the Pistons left forward Rasheed Wallace (Wallace signed with the Boston Celtics).

Iverson is left with very few options. The logical spot to sign was with the New York Knickerbockers, only an hour and 19 minutes from Philly's 33rd Street Amtrak Station, where a stress-free train-ride would bring him and his family straight under New York's Madison Square Garden. But, when NYK GM Donny Walsh passed on signing Iverson (at the veteran's minimum salary of about $1.4 mil), the music stopped and the 10-year all-star was left standing without a chair. After he cleared waivers and no NBA team stepped up with an offer, the only move to make was to "officially" announce his retirement with the caveat that he would cherish the time with family. However, the message posted was pretty clear, as Iverson believes he can still contribute at a high level.

In other NBA locales, the only option for AI to consider would be a stint with the New Jersey Nets. Iverson has a lot of respect for Nets team president of basketball operations Rod Thorn and could establish a solid relationship with Nets no-nonsense coach Lawrence Frank who undoubtedly would appreciate some instant offensive fire-power from the 10-year vet who could limo straight up the famed New Jersey Turnpike for games at the Izod Center in the Meadowlands.

The only other possibility to consider would be a headline grabbing "AI to Europe" manuever where Iverson would return to "Rock Star" status in the Euroleague where he would surely sell plenty of tickets and attract plenty of attention, especially if he were to join the baloncestro-crazed Spanish fans of FC Barcelona or Real Madrid. Iverson and the 76ers sold-out the Palau Sant-Jordi in Barcelona during the NBA Europe Live Tour of 2007 when FC Barca defeated the Sixers in a preseason friendly before some 20,000 fans.


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