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Tuesday, November 4th, 2008 at 11:28 am  |  30 responses

Energizer

Allen Iverson might keep going and going.

Always a reason to celebrate

by Matt Caputo

If someone told you he was a 20-year-old rookie right now, after watching Allen Iverson play, you‘d probably believe it. He scores in bunches. He goes to the free throw line a dozen times in a game sometimes. He gets to the basket and dunks. Iverson isn’t your average 33-year-old guard in the NBA. In his 13th year in the League, A.I. has shown some signs that he’s slowing down, but not too many.

After 832 games and 34,749 minutes in the NBA, Iverson is a better scorer now than when he was 21-years-old. He’s aged like wine–to say the very least–and his minutes per game last season still registered higher than his first four years in the League. With 23,000-plus points and counting to show for his time, there is no precedent set for how long a scoring guard of his caliber can last in the NBA.

It’s likely that Iverson missed more games to suspension than he has to injuries. His mental and physical toughness has sometimes gotten the better of him, but he is a complex individual and fierce competitor. While Iverson has become well-known for skipping practices, he’s less known for playing with broken fingers, removing a cast himself, and coaches needing equipment managers to hide his uniform from him when he’s banged up.

“Whenever he misses a game, you know he’s truly injured,” former teammate Eric Snow told USA Today in 2004. “It’s not some little nick or a hangnail. More than anything, I think he’s tough mentally. He can somehow kid himself into thinking he’s (feeling) better than he actually is. Then he has the will to get out there and will himself through it and do some things even he didn’t think he could do. It’s an amazing thing to see.”

Iverson still loves to compete and coming to the Pistons gives him a fresh start to dig down deep and produce his best work. He joins a club that isn’t just a playoff team, but a damn near given for the conference finals lately. He comes to a town that celebrates tough basketball players and, if Allen Iverson is one thing for certain, he’s that.

“Pound for pound, inch for inch, he’s the toughest,” then Atlanta Hawks general manager Billy Knight told USA Today in ‘04. “He’s the type of guy we used to say you have to kill to get him off you (in a fight). There are a lot of guys who say they are tough but aren’t genuinely. He is genuinely tough.”

The Pistons wanted to bring Iverson to Motown for some time now. A.I. should be fully focused on winning a chip, not because he’s running out of time to do so, but because he’s gone long enough in his highly decorated career without one. He probably won’t be an injury risk, it may take a minute for him to find his place on an already very good team. Despite Billups’ subtraction, Detroit is very much a veteran team that knows how to win. The Pistons have young benchwarmers who been to the Eastern Conference Finals more times than Iverson has.

While he has experienced a ton of good and bad since coming into the NBA in 1996, Iverson is on no particular pace to end his career at all. He played in all 82 games last season and probably could have this season too. Barring any unforeseen injuries, Iverson could play forever. And if his most recent relocation doesn’t win him a championship, he might have to.

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  • http://kb24.com Bigi

    Amen!

  • Luke

    much respect good column

  • Ken

    I’d love to see him retire with a ring.

  • nate

    i respect a.i.

  • http://www.ngunioamosotho.com Nguni

    Iverson for Prez!

  • junior

    i would like to see a.i. retire wit a ring but on tha other hand he has play “D” a lil bit more..i believe he can get one or two maybe even three wit tha pistons

  • LeoneL

    great pics. caputo worked on that pic too?

  • http://where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com/ B. Long

    Well put.

  • Melzaih Dia

    A.i is pound 4 pound the best player in the league, he’s a one of a kind player, no need to slow down. We all want to see whats next in a.i’s career. thats his career in a nutshell, leaving u wondering whats next. All i got to say to all the a.i haters is DET-ROIT BAS-KET-BALL! Ayo u might as well put the bubbly on ice now

  • Bubba Chuck

    4 MORE YEARS! 4 MORE YEARS!

  • Bubba Chuck

    @Nguni: co-sign

  • Felix

    the dude’s fearless and can create his own shots. i think he’ll find his place in detroit

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I think those pics will be my new background on my computer.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    @TAD: What size monitor do you use? :-)

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I have a 20″ monitor at home.

  • Weapon X

    The Answer!

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Very nice, Matty.

  • E. Tones

    He’s going to a team that knows how to win exactly what all his other professional teams didn’t have. Only this time he has to go through the Celtics and the Lebron’s. If anything it should make for a very interesting year and I think Junior’s right he needs to play a little more “D” especially to fit in with Detroits type of play.

  • http://N/A B.W.

    Nice story Matty. A.I. can make that final push. I would love to seem him win a chip.

  • KTang

    I been AI fan since he was in college and continue be his fan forever. Much respect for the man. AI is a true future Hall of Famer. :) I was to see AI play another 4 years or so on. Never get tire watching him play…

  • E. Tones

    to think that A.I. and Stephon Marbury came out at the same time and only one of them amounted to anything. A.I. has always taken on the challenge of getting the job done. He has gotten to the finals once without success but hopefully he has a chance to return to the spotlight of the NBA finals; with the odds more favorable and the outcome a better one for the future hall of famer Allen Iverson.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    it’s funny that way back in the days, many of us were saying that AI won’t be in the league for very long given his wreckless style of play. 13 years in and still no signs of slowing. he’s not just an amazing basketball player, he’s simply an amazing human being.

  • $tev3

    AS MUCH AS I L0VE A.I. IF HE GETS A CHIP HE MAY JUST RETIRE THEN I WANNA SEE HIM PLAY M0RE YET THE MAN DESERVES A RING

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    “Allen Iverson: Amazing Human Being.” I love my Slam fam.

  • EC

    A.I. stands for “ABSOLUTLEY INCREDIBLE”. Pound for pound the best and toughest athlete in the league.

  • http://maggiecoughlan.com Maggie

    Quality throughout as usual but nice to see the photo game is stepping up!

  • Bruno

    after KG got his, no one deserves more a ring than this guy…
    i don’t believe the pistons can, BUT, i’m officially cheering for the D this season.
    MATT, congrats man… really GREAT article… very, very well written.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    this was dripping with patriotism for a player that essentially doesn’t make those around him better….

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Truth!!

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