Team S. Dot Timeout: AI – Free At Last?
The nonsense and beauty of the AI saga.
Allen, you’re better than this. You really are. You should’ve known this was a possible outcome. A little more foresight would’ve been great on your part. The Memphis Grizzlies do not operate like a winning franchise. They have banked almost solely on luck and nice-sounding basketball names to carry them through. They don’t win. So why would you go and sign, man? Pau Gasol didn’t wanna be there, Damon Stoudamire wasn’t all that hip to the place, your old draft classmate Antoine Walker had no desire to stay–you really thought that Memphis was going to win? Really?
NiceKicks.com reported that your contract with Reebok pays you $6 million per year, as long as you stay playing, so I can understand why you weren’t worried about league cash, and while you took a big pay cut, I’m sure you and me can both agree that $3.1 million is still a very pretty penny, even after taxes–and that’s fine. That’s good business, but why not explore what the Grizzlies were planning for you all along? Were you blind about the Grizzlies franchise or were you really blinded by actual deception on their part? AI, did you ask Memphis explicitly if you were to start? You knew that Mike Conley was the franchise’s hope. You knew that the Grizzlies have OJ Mayo. Rudy Gay can play guard, too (and he has in the past). Why not hold out for something different? Why not practice patience?
Allen, everyone knows that you are an all-NBA guard, man. That’s not even a question. You are an All-Star today, tomorrow and probably for the foreseeable future…but your game isn’t conducive to winning a championship on most teams as a starter, AI. The team that you keep referring to from 2001? That team was custom built for you, because you can’t win any other way. We know you’re not really that selfish at heart, not truly. Those that have followed you know that you are a team player, as long as you have your role. You want to play whole games. You want to be able to take the tough shots. We know what you’ve sacrificed, just from all the injuries you’ve had. I know that you just want to play the position on the team that you know is guaranteed to keep a team in the hunt…but there aren’t any teams willing to take the time build around you like that, Allen.
The economy’s bad for the NBA. The owners and front office managers are taking less risks. They can’t afford to break up whole teams and reconstruct without a calculated guarantee for a profit. It’s not 2001 anymore, Allen. The people who are saying that you’ve fallen off are wrong. Those saying that you don’t have it anymore are wrong, because the people that have been watching know that you were just an All-Star.
The reason why you are seen as a commodity as a sixth man is because you dominate the ball. It’s OK to admit that. And yes, you have a high assist average for your career, and we know that, but you dominate the ball. That’s your game, and the teams that need you would need for you to dominate with the second units, while Kobe, P-Double, Ray Ray, Jameer and Dwight, Gilbert, DWade, DRose, BRoy and all those other first name-initialled, nicknamed stars get some breathers. You’d come in and dominate everyone. That’s the plan for you, man. You still get your numbers (we know that it’s not all about that), but you’d be hurting every other team you played.
I’m saying this because you didn’t realize this in the offseason. You didn’t explain very clearly how Detroit misled your agency and representation into believing that everything was good about you coming to the Pistons. You didn’t take the time to get people to understand your situation, and how your teammates in the Motor City didn’t care for how you were dealt with, either. You could’ve taken the time, but that’s over now.
You can make things right for your career, Allen. We know that you don’t like press conferences all that much these days…but talk to some people in the League. Get a gauge for where you are from those with the power to get you a new start. Humble yourself, please. Know that you coming off of the bench is not a death sentence; in reality, it’s the liberation of Allen Iverson. No restrictions in guiding the offense for the first unit. You won’t have to worry about your starting point or shooting guard getting touches.
If you came off of the pine, you’d still get about 30 minutes, I’m sure. Thirty minutes to wreak absolute havoc. Don’t you see? Your team in Philly was a starting unit best suited for the reserve unit on some other team. You were starting in the Finals with guys who were likely reserves elsewhere. If you came off the bench for a contending team, your second unit would be your whole other Philly team, all over again. Why is that more feasible? Most reserve players are cheaper. The NBA bench is more malleable that way. If your unit needed more rebounding or defense, instead of worrying about the chemistry change in the starting lineup, your future front office employer could just give you whatever you needed to change the game.
C’mon man. Just think about that. And if you’re still stuck on that, call up Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni–you’d be great! Tell them that you’d play for free or the minimum. Tell them that you’d be perfect in that 2-guard spot.
Just don’t let this be the death of your NBA career, Allen. People don’t want you to be on the bench because you suck. You’re a commodity so unique, you need the freedom.
So free yourself.
Sandy Dover is a novelist/writer, artist, fitness enthusiast, as well as an unrepentant Prince fan (for real). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at Associated Content and Twitter.