The AP carried a report earlier today in which Gary Moore, manager to free agent PF Allen Iverson, insisted there was “legitimate interest” on the part of an unidentified Chinese team. Perhaps sensing a need to keep A.I.’s name in the papers, Moore continued with, “we’re very astonished, to say the least, that not one (NBA) team has contacted us with any interest. I just don’t understand it.”
At the risk of boring anyone who paid even casual attention to the NBA over the past few years, let’s review Iverson’s recent performance/conduct. In November of 2008, the Nuggets sent him to Detroit in exchange for Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess and Cheikh Samb. To say it was a one-sided trade is to give Joe Dumars far too much credit ; Billups thrived in his return to Denver, while Iverson bristled at being Rodney Stuckey’s backup and essentially quit on the team. A subsequent tenure in Memphis lasted all of 3 games played, as once again, Iverson couldn’t or wouldn’t adjust to coming off the bench. A return to Philadelphia saw Iverson leaving the team — citing his daughter’s ill health — after little more than two months.
Whether or not Iverson can still play at an elite level in the NBA is a matter for debate (one you’d probably lose if you answered “yes”). What isn’t a matter of opinion is that a player who at one time personified fearlessness has established a contemporary reputation for going AWOL when circumstances are less than perfect. After everything Iverson’s brought to the game since entering the league in 1996, it’s impossible to relish the farcical nature of his job hunt ; there will be obvious comparisons to Stephon Marbury, but the Coney Island product was never Iverson’s equal as a scorer or a competitor. But unless Iverson is willing to not simply accept but embrace a diminished role, an NBA roster spot seems unlikely.