There’s An “I” In “Iverson”…But No “I” In Team

“I had a lot of growing up to do. A lot of times, I learned the hard way.”

Above is a quote I dug up spoken by Allen Iverson. He got a bad wrap early in his career as being a player that was difficult to coach (the infamous “Practice!” video clip is still one of my all-time favorites), but seeing his growth as a player and as a person since his rookie year of 1997 has been incredible. Despite some of his immature actions, he always played his heart out every game, regardless of low playoff chances or excessive injuries to his war-torn frame. Hell, a lot of people forget that he took the Philadelphia 76ers to the finals by himself. Still the sterotypes that follow young black men with cornrows and lots of tatoos have followed him throughout his career, with sports analysts blowing up all of his mistakes, no matter how menial, and attributing them to hip-hop culture. Thankfully, much of that criticism went away as he got older.

I was ecstatic to see Allen Iverson get traded to the Detroit Pistons. Getting rid of perrenial all-star Chauncey Billups was probably a bad move in hindsight, considering the winning record of his new Denver Nuggets squad and the losing record of the Pistons, but Iverson has tried his best to fit into a frontcourt full of fellow scorers like Rodney Stuckey and Rip Hamilton. He’s out with an injured back now, but he said that once he’s back on the court, that he’s willing to make sacrafices:

Iverson said his goal hasn’t changed since arriving: to help the Pistons win a championship. He says he’ll do “whatever it takes” — “regardless if I’m starting or coming off the bench.”

Dude really is a team player. I was pretty pissed when some ESPN anchor compared his older situations to those of football player Terrell Owens, who’s been known for breaking up teams (the third, most recent one being the Dallas Cowboys, from which he was just unceremoniously released); because Iverson just had issues with one coach, he’s never disrespected his opponents, and his teammates have never questioned his integrity. It’s still disgusting that Iverson never got a ring, but I think he still deserves a Hall Of Fame vote for his heart, his numbers (dude’s one of the best scorers in the history of the game), and because of how memorable of a personality he is.

via ESPN