While Allen Iverson’s mooted retirement has been met with howls of protest from former coaches John Thompson and Larry Brown, the Globe & Mail’s Michael Grange refuses to join the chorus hailing the game’s most prolific small scorer. Calling Iverson “a minor NBA figure”, Grange castigates A.I. as having “thrived only if enough role players could be assembled to buy into his me-first version of basketball”.
I suppose you can make the case that he deserves some respect for his determined individualism as the first NBA star to fully embrace tattoos, braids and what that symbolized. I have nothing against that, obviously. Freedom of expression is a good thing and if he forced the dominant culture to be more tolerant, aware or understanding of a certain strain of black culture that™s worth while.
But it™s also worth noting that he was paid, not prosecuted, for his choices, which makes the trail-blazing attributes a bit hollow “ we™re not talking Muhammad Ali here.
But in a basketball sense? Take away one magical year in Philly when an entire organization genuflected for his benefit and were rewarded with one Finals appearance thanks to a watered-down Eastern Conferece “ Philly was the only team not to lose at least 30 games that year — and what did he really accomplish?
He otherwise never made it out of the second round of the playoffs. When he left Denver the Nuggets made it to the Western Conference final; when he arrived in Detroit the Pistons got swept in the first round, missing the Eastern Conference final for the first time in six season; of course by then Iverson had already quit the team.