When the Light Came Callin'

It's funny, I've had mixed feelings about AI over the years, but this last act has me feeling like none of that ever happened. Or, as Iverson himself seems to be saying, that part had to happen to get to this one perfect moment. Iverson's career needed resolution more than anything else. "Going home" may do little to justify his time in the league, or convert doubters. But if this is how it ends, AI's myth only gets deeper. And Allen Iverson's reached a point few athletes ever do, where we really need a new kind of story to explain what they did.

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At 12/03/2009 9:32 PM, Blogger The Backwards K said...

I think this is my favorite PD post of them all.

Great work, Shoals.

At 12/03/2009 9:38 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Can't help but feel the opposite. If he'd been retired more than, say, a week, I would have bought it. But as it is, I can't help but look at these as crocodile tears. I hope that doesn't paint me as the unsympathetic a-hole, because I'm totally willing to admit I might be in the minority here. Especially here.

At 12/03/2009 10:31 PM, Blogger Jimmy Pterodactylus said...

i disagree. i think, the odyssey of AI being what it is, that he's genuinely emotional here. it's not put on for the media; he seems, more than anything else, overwhelmed with his own love for the game, and most likely more than a little shocked that, in the end, he cares this much--that at the end of the day, he is a basketball machine (arguably a walking legend of The Assocation already), born to do this and little else, as he says. the end of the road is hard for any players that have shone in the way that he has, that have elevated--or polarized--the game, but i think what we're seeing here is a man surprised by the actuality, the finality, of being told he's finished before he's ready.

At 12/03/2009 10:48 PM, Blogger Chad said...

@Michael say what you want about Iverson but he's been genuine if he's been anything else, a lot of time to the detriment of his media image, I doubt he'd decide to put on an act now.

At 12/03/2009 11:34 PM, Blogger Andrew James Weatherhead said...

I don't see this ending well, although I'd love to be proven wrong

At 12/03/2009 11:53 PM, Blogger djturtleface said...

As a disheveled Grizzlies fan, I saw this earlier this year. It looked real and I believed the hype.

Don't believe it. The tears are real right now, I believe that, but who knows what they'll become. I expect a little more blood than sweat.

I don't hope that all the bad things in the world will happen to A.I., in fact I hope they won't, but to be honest they probably will.

At 12/04/2009 4:45 AM, Blogger Jason said...


Genuine? The same guy who promised he wouldn't be trouble in Memphis? The same guy who admitted that he was at a point in his career where he could forgo his ego and contribute to a championship caliber team at Detroit?

Fuck AI. He looks like an idiot child, crying over basketball.

At 12/04/2009 10:56 AM, Blogger Deckfight said...

a selfish person grappling with the fact that he has to give for perhaps the first time in his life

At 12/04/2009 3:57 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Selfish perhaps, genuine I'd say yes. Genuine in the sense that he has a delusional belief in the truth of what he's saying. He's seemed emotionally unstable for at least the last couple of years if not longer.

IMO there are several guys riding the bench in the NBA, 11th or 12th men, who could average as many points as AI and shoot as good a percentage if you let them monopolize the ball like he does.

At 12/04/2009 7:02 PM, Blogger The Backwards K said...


Hate Hate Hate Hate Hate Hate

Tim, you lack a fundamental understanding of basketball. There aren't several guys in history that can do what AI does, let alone several on the bench right now.

What's with this "CONTROLS THE BALL! EVIL!" idea that floats around Iverson? You know a team that passes a lot and doesn't have a specific ball handler? The Warriors. You know who else? The Knicks. You know who else? The fucking Nets. One player handling the rock does not a team ruin.

Here's some stats for you haters thinking AI is incredibly selfish:
Career stats, averaged-
player 1: 5.3 assists, 30.1 points

player 2: 6.0 assists, 27 points

I've also compiled the four seasons each player took the most shots -

player 1: total 8244, for an average of 2061 for those 4 seasons

player 2: total 7393, average 1848.

So the player who took a few thousand less shots at his peak, with more assists is player 2. Player 1 shot .075% better than player 2 from the field overall.

Player 1 is MJ, player 2 is Iverson.

Jason, you're missing the point in both those instances. He was told he'd start in Detroit and then the entire team fell apart right when he came there. Ever started working for a company that just started going under? Same thing. It's not an accurate representation of the man. And Memphis, well, theOnion said it best - http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/memphis_grizzlies_continue - If you were the best accountant in Boston and they gave your job to a college intern, you'd be pissed, too.

Deckfight, I appreciate you slandering a man you've never met and who you know fundamentally nothing about. So in that spirit, I say Iverson is a better man than you.

At 12/04/2009 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading interview of Michael Heisley on "divorcing" Allen Iverson, I kinda felt that Iverson is somewhat of a dick, a terribly capricious and unreasonable dick. That said, Iverson is no different from Kobe who burnt the Shaq-Kobe Laker dynasty to ground (or at least fanned the flames) so as to rebuild the Lakers in his own image. MJ was and apparently still is a selfish me first dick- MJ forced his way back on the court against team advice after breaking his foot early in his career, and later in his career, in his last season MJ reinserted himself in the Wizards starting line-up and played big minutes despite doctors and his coaches advise that he should not play too many minutes.

The fact is that some highly competitive athletes are very uncompromising. Perhaps that is part of what makes them so special. For that reason I find the criticism about AI actions over the past year to be somewhat unfair and hypocritical.

Ultimately I really enjoy watching AI play and I hope that he is finally put in a good position to succeed in the NBA. I feel a big part of a player's narrative is determined by their environment. KG in Minnesota was a accused of being a superstar that could only get out of the first round once in twelve seasons, a loser, I glad he found redemption on the Celtics. I just hope AI can finally be put in a good situation to succeed. I had hoped that the CAVS would pick him up as the final piece on a championship team, he could start at guard and provide a much needed second scoring option to Lebron who is becoming more and more of a one-man team. Anyway it was not to be so hopefully the Sixers thing works out.

At 12/04/2009 10:05 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Calling everyone who criticizes AI a hater is simply a smoke screen. There's plenty of room to criticize him both for his play and his failure as a teammate without "hating" him.

I didn't say there were several players riding the bench as good as AI, I said they could average his points and shoot his 40% if the offense was handed over to them. There are several quick, little guards who can get their shots but can't make a good enough percentage to earn their keep. Which is where AI is now. I don't see him getting the calls on contact that he's used to and that will frustrate him mightily and lower his scoring average.

I also strongly suspect there's something going on in his off the court life that's going to come out and be a problem. I think lots of teams do as well.

If your analysis of his game was accurate the Cavs or another contender WOULD have picked him up. That they didn't do so indicates you're wrong. Maybe not wrong over his career but he's no longer the HOF AI and even when he was his shooting percentage was never that great.

At 12/05/2009 12:33 AM, Blogger The Backwards K said...

That is true, but you didn't evidence it previously. You did so here.

I'll submit, though, that just because my analysis hasn't been widely accepted around the League doesn't make it invalid. The League has proven time and time again they have no idea what they're doing. Only a handful of coaches and GMs seem to have a brain, and the Cavs certainly aren't one of those.

Besides, the whole tragedy of AI is how pathetically and comprehensively Philly's owners and GMs fucked up AI's prime. No one's ever known how to build a team around him. It doesn't mean he's a bad player.

At 12/05/2009 1:17 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Who are these other guards?

At 12/05/2009 1:34 AM, Blogger The Backwards K said...

Exactly my point. Putting up 27 over a 13 year career isn't a joke.

Just because the dude is short and shoots a lot somehow the inclination is to think "anyone could do that"

At 12/05/2009 6:36 AM, Blogger Stephen said...

Believe me, Ed Stefanski is not one of the GMs that knows what he's doing.

At 12/05/2009 8:43 PM, Blogger Toddy said...

Just totally mind blowing.
AI is one of a kind in sports for me.
A serious character actor who can elevate the whole slap stick comedy movie.
There are few, if any personalities like his, doing the sorts of things he does in such high profile.
And he really does seem genuine. And they really do seem like crocodile tears.
And he really does do it again and again without losing a hint of interest for me.
That is a feat in itself.
I love this guy.
I can't help it.

At 12/05/2009 11:18 PM, Blogger Bobby Generic said...

I think the relationship between Iverson and the city of Philadelphia is one of the most fascinating in the history of sports. Not only that, but the events that have transpired over the past 3 years make this story go far beyond the realm of just basketball for both parties.

It's really been an unbelevable journey. If you think about it, Iverson never really won anything for the fans of Philadelphia. He carried the Sixers to the Finals once, and there was a 4-year period where he really was, in my opinion, the most exciting player to watch/follow in all of basketball (1999-2002).

But as fun a ride as that was, at the end of the day, it's very easy to argue that Iverson's critics have been right all along. You can't build a team around him, he shoots too low a percentage to be a winner, he needs to control the ball way too much, and he's selfish in terms of his role within the team schema.

All of the above is true; or at the very least, it's easy to strongly support those opinions based on the career he has put together. Then when you think about his post-Sixer career, he definitely dind't give Philly a reason to want him back. He had an ugly divorce with the Sixers front office, played so-so ball in Denver without winning anything, played badly on a sub-.500 Detroit team, and then screwed over Memphis with an almost-comical and audacious display of impatience.

And now that nobody else wants him, it seems fitting that Philly was ready to take him back with open arms. It's a city that could care less about basketball before Iverson arrived, and since he departed. But now the city is abuzz, and it's not even really for basketball. It's for AI, because Philly loves him like a family fuck-up that you just want to keep on the right path.

He's always been genuine and honest, even when he's been wrong (practice, coming off the bench, wanting more minutes, Larry Brown drama, etc.), because even when he's wrong, he thinks he's right.

Philly fans are okay with that, because they know him so well already, and love him on a level that is much deeper than basketball statistics or wins/losses. How often is a fan-base totally willing to watch its favorite player lose than its team win? That will only hpapen when you're more interested in the individual than the team. And that's why AI is so intriguing.

I'm taking a bus from NYC to Philly to go to the game on Monday, and I can't wait. Oh, the nostalgia we will have.


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