5 things Allen Iverson can do to become relevant in the NBA again
Allen Iverson is a legend of the game.
We may as well get this out of the way. Almost no-one has played with as much heart and passion as he, no-one has had such a surging fan base in recent years. He was the heart and sole of the City of Philadelphia for many years.
He had an unstoppable arsenal of offensive weapons. More than once he took down big teams nearly by himself. Glad we have that covered.
Things may have changed. He is now on a Pistons team that isn't among the happiest in the league. He didn't play a single minute during the sweep by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
I don't want to go into the whole thing, but Allen Iverson didn't make the Detroit Pistons horrible. He never asked to be traded there, and he didn't make nearly every other player to forget about defense and throw up brick after brick.
But that discussion is for another day. Right now, Allen Iverson is nearly completely forgotten about during this postseason run, and here are five things I think the Answer could do to make himself relevant once more.
1. Leave the Detroit Pistons
If Allen Iverson ever suits up in a Detroit Pistons uniform again, I think there are going to be a lot of surprised
people. Iverson will almost definitely be leaving Michigan this summer. The bridges have already been burnt. The chemistry is obviously not there with his current teammates or his coach in Michael Curry.
He needs a fresh start elsewhere. It’s hard to foresee where he can go, as many GM's won't be climbing over each other to sign up Iverson, especially in these 'save every bit of cap-space we possibly can'' times.
2. Utilize his skills in a different way
A.I is an incredibly skilled basketball player. He still has great handles, is an underrated passer and I don't think I need to talk about his scoring too much. It wasn't all too long that Iverson had one of his best overall seasons. In the 07-08 season, he played in all 82 games, averaged 26.4 PPG, 7.2 APG, 2 SPG and shot 45% from the field (good for second best in his career)
The skills that earned him these averages haven't diminished too much. Yes he is older, and slower. Injuries seem to be taking a toll. No he won't be crossing up opponents and dunking on big men on a consistent basis anymore, but he can use his skills in a better way.
He is a good shooter, but needs to work more on a spot-up type guy. One of the most frustrating things is seeing him catch the ball; bounce it through his legs twice before shooting it in the exact same spot where he caught it. If Iverson can become one of those threats from the outside...someone a big man can throw it out to, A Derek Fisher or Eddie House type, his value will increase.
He can use his handles and passing skills to become more of a floor general. He is great at penetrating the paint, he can combine these skills to drive the lane and kick out- always a great skill for a guard.
I'm not sure if Iverson will ever become a prototypical Point Guard, but his skills can still be put to great use.
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3. Accept a reduced role
As I mentioned, highlight crossovers and dunks will become more and rarer for the Answer. His days of being a top ten guy in the NBA are done...but this does not mean he can not be a winner and be a great influence on his team. This is more of an ego thing. Depending on where he ends up, his minutes obviously won't be as high as previous years and it's more than plausible that he could become a bench player.
That happened towards the end of his Pistons season...and it didn't go down too well. Personally I think it was more the media making a bigger deal out of this than Iverson himself, but he didn't help himself either.
Of course he is used to being the first option, the main guy. There's good reason for that, but he cannot force that now. He must focus on team play, on not being in the highlights every day, on not being an ''Around the Horn'' topic constantly. He can do this...if he really wants to win it. Ray Allen did it in Boston. Even Shaq kind of did it in Miami, sort
4. Become a mentor
This will be Iverson's 14th year in the league. He's played in 886 games for three different teams. He's been
around; he knows a few tricks, now its time to help out the younger dudes.
He knows how to create contact. He knows how to avoid being blocked on fade-aways; he knows how to play the passing lane. Perhaps most importantly, he knows how to be passionate, and how to keep going no matter what. How to play every game like its his last.
This is all knowledge that a lot of the young guards in the NBA could really use. For the sake of an example, say he stayed in Detroit. He could teach guys like Will Bynum, Rodney Stuckey and Aaron Affalo a lot about the game. Iverson has been an idol in this league for a long time...who wouldn't want to listen and learn from him? And more than that, he can lead by an example...he is the true architect of the whole
He can do what he's always done- get knocked down, get blocked, and just come back more and more. He is a great example of not being intimidated by anything or anyone...and he can show the young guys how to adopt the same attitude.
5. Play the good guy
Earlier in the year, Stephon Marbury gained a lot of sympathy by playing the good guy in his New York Saga. He didn't publicly quarrel with management anymore, nor have major outbursts. He just turned up and sat in his suit, playing the good boy.
Allen Iverson doesn't need any sympathy, but he does need to be a good guy.
This kind of ties in with point 3 & 4, but Iverson needs to conform to his coach, the team, and the team's
philosophy. There can be no more 'Practice' ordeals, or falling out with coaches, Iverson needs to do what is asked of him and not make trouble on another team.
He will only get so many more chances in this league; he needs to really take advantage of the next one he gets. Turn up. Be part of the team. Concentrate on winning.
If A.I were reading, I'd say to him that I don't want him to change...I want him to adapt.
Don't abandon the qualities that made you a legend, the heart and passion, the competitive spirit and the unmatched desire to win. Your Reebok slogan: ''I am what I am'' still rings true.
But concentrate on who you are, and not who you were.
I know it seems like I'm criticizing Bubba Chuck, but I'm one of his biggest fans.
All I want is to see him on the court for the meaningful games again; I want to see him as a winner again.
Still, whether my advice is heeded or not, whatever happens in Allen Iverson's career from now...
He is still a legend of the game...nothing will be changing that.
By Joe Buckley
Pro-Basketball Fans staff-writer
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