Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 at 3:18 pm  |  25 responses

You Got What You Wanted, Allen

The world is yours, AI.

by Sandy Dover

The title of this column says it all, Allen. You got what you wanted, but before I go any further, let me first say that I’m happy that you’re happy — you’re happy, right? If you’re really happy, I’m happy for you, especially since that means that you can finally concentAllen Iversonrate on playing ball.

Part of me is ambivalent about you, though. I want to be honest with you, because we know that you aren’t very trusting of the media and rightfully so. You haven’t always been given a fair shake by members of the press (but then again, you didn’t always give yourself a good chance with others, either), and so I want to be honest for your benefit. Part of me is happy that you can hopefully just sit in where you’re at and do you, because you know how to do you and do it well; another part of me leans toward apathy about your situation, because you helped to revive the nonsense of your recent trepidation. It’s not any disrespect toward you–it’s just that I’ve seen you since college when I was only a young child myself and I’ve watched you get drafted with the Reebok pin on your lapel and I’ve witnessed all the accolades and unfortunate misfortunes that you have received.

When you left Philly in 2006, Allen, you were just sick of the organization and the team…and the organization was sick of you. You went to Denver, though, and instead of acting up, you silenced the critics that said you were going to be a malcontent for your whole career. Going to Colorado and going west was helping you, and you seemingly embraced the situation. Now, I’ll say this as well, just like I said before–your current style of play, to date, is not conducive to winning a championship, unless you are built around to the degree of exact specifications–but honestly, Allen, no team has the money or time to do that with you now. That doesn’t mean that you’re not great, because you’re one of the greatest and most unique players of all time, but what it does mean is that you are going to have to start thinking outside of the box, Allen. Denver didn’t win anything, still, even with your being the mightiest of the mighty. No championship series of any kind, conference or otherwise.

What I’m saying is that you can take the Philadelphia 76ers to the Playoffs. You’ve done it before with less, and I know you have the will to do so still, but please consider thinking outside of the box for a minute. Not every super-duper talent is going to go out like Jordan with the 18-foot fadeaway. It usually never happens, so you can’t think that it’s a certainty for you. Look at your draft classmates of ’96–Ray Allen is not better than you (though he’s still a Hall of Fame talent); now, did he average 26 points per in winning a title with Boston? No. Did Steve Nash complain the times when everything didn’t go exactly his way when he was busy getting cheated out a championship match-up pushing his team to the Western Conference Finals, or during those slow, depressing years of The Big Cactus in Arizona? No. Even Kobe learned to how to change his game, and this was after winning 3 championships with the Lakers.

Right now, you don’t have to worry about the championship for this season — it’s not going to happen in Philadelphia, I’m sorry to tell you (and you probably already know this in your heart of hearts). Still, if you want a chance to be a champion in the coming years, please sir, just remember to think outside of the box. The world had to think outside of the box for you, remember? The world who knew of Allen Iverson saw a young, poor, African American kid with a world of talent, and rough enough around the edges that it even made Ben Grimm think twice about throwing stones. We don’t have to go through this whole anecdote, but people just didn’t know what to make of you and how to treat you, shamefully so… but the world that knew of Allen Iverson came around. ItAllen Iverson decided to think outside of the box in growing with you, and soon, you were embraced by the masses.

You’ve given a lot to the game of basketball and to the people that respect and love the game, but you have to evolve, AI, and it’s not limited to your growth away from the court. You’re going to have to either embrace the possibility of being different for your sake and best interests or staying the same in the wake of your career’s demise. That doesn’t mean that you should lose your integrity, because a part of being a wise person is knowing when to say, “It’s better to do this another way.” You don’t have to be any less of yourself, but being a better basketball player and a true winner requires sacrifice in other ways than just your being selfish. We know that you played more than a half-decade of your NBA career battered. And you what? That’s honorable of you and shows your dedication, but you know what else? Tough! At least you had the choice to make that decision. Some players never had that option to come out and do that with some of their injury histories. You have to decide to be better for the whole rather than being better for the sole self.

You don’t have any extra men left, Allen. You’ve used all your Mario tokens, your “1-Ups” are in the tank. This is your last life. Remember that you have the power to change for the better as an NBA basketball player. You are a living legend. Show the world that you’re better, that you are a man of wisdom, that you have patience. For your sake, don’t eff this up. Your legacy is still being written.

(Dovi out.)

Sandy Dover is a novelist/writer, artist and 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.

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  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    Well he did get 6 assists. I mean, if he can average 6 assists I’ll be more than happy.

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    Billups and Tony Parker average like 5 or 6 assists and they still do a lot of winning.

  • Still ballin

    He just had one game with the sixers.. Relax,let him enjoy the moment.. Remember no other NBA team wanted him two weeks ago.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/san-dova-speak-easy/ San Dova

    STILL BALLIN’–> This wasn’t written according to one game (it was actually written the day before), and it’s MUCH BIGGER than just 48 minutes. That no other team did want him two weeks ago shows the importance of this reunion.

  • http://myspace.com/rsaenz24 RoG23

    AI is not a true pg. And philly needs a true pg to create for brand. Where are u andre miller?

  • tavoris

    @San Dova-excellent piece. Valid points that echo the major complaints over the last 2 years, but in a constructive way.

  • http://www.sixers.com 360vue

    Nice write-up. I think he will evolve, more than ever he’s probably aware of the almost 50/50 polarisation of his character and game, especially after been rejected by half of the L last fornight.
    @RoG23 I respectfully disagree… Brand is an enigma this season but he would definitely benefit from a true 1 but Philly don’t need a true PG. Most of the team would be better with the combo-guard system employed. Scoring isn’t an issue most of the time, it’s the utterly woeful attempts at D… I’ve lost all faith I had for EJ; start of the season, no issues, it’s early, 10 games in, it’s alrigt, it could be a work in progress… a 1/4 into the season and still no signs of any coherent D, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? what the hell is that man working on in practice??!?! I’ma stop I could rant for half a day on this frustrating tool

  • Jray

    The beginning made me wonder what the point of this piece was (it felt like retelling what we already know) but the rest explained.

  • jigs

    Ray Allen isn’t better than Allen Iverson? Ray Ray is arguably the greatest/2nd greatest shooter of all time. AI’s sick, no disrespect, but he hasn’t really produced anything positive since his original Philly days.

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

    If I were Allen Iverson, why would I look at Steve Nash for inspiration? The guy never won jack. He got to the WCF three times in his life even though he played on loaded squads. So I really don’t see how Nash has been “thinking outside the box.” Sure, Nash is a great player and everything, but I don’t understand the argument you’re trying to make. It makes more sense when you say something like Ray Allen didn’t average 26 ppg to win a title with Boston, although even that isn’t the same as coming off the bench, but at least it’s relevant.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/san-dova-speak-easy/ San Dova

    TARIQ–> I’m not really sure what you think isn’t relevant, sir. Steve is a bonafide winner, and has led teams to great contention, and he didn’t always have “loaded” squads. Steve was a scoring guard in college, but learned how to make his team better, not just himself better. He became a better player as he learned to lead his team better as well. Can you really say that about Allen Iverson? That he led his team consistently to prominence just about every year that he was a featured player? No, you cannot. Furthermore, Nash (like Ray Allen) is part of his draft class and is a guard (also like R. Allen), so the comparison is valid on those terms. “Thinking outside of the box” is just thinking differently, relative to your situation. Ray Allen chose to do it with humility by sacrificing his game for a third man’s spot in the Celtic pecking order; Nash chose to think differently by how he adjusted to his role and his game as a featured guard in Dallas, and prepared and changed his body when he got to Phoenix. Allen Iverson’s definitely a legend, but we can’t really ever say he was a winner like you’d classically think–at least I can’t.

    Oh well…, thanks for reading and contributing your opinion.

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    Steve Nash is the most overrated player of all time.

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    Sorry…I meant to say that after complimenting your style. I dig it.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/san-dova-speak-easy/ San Dova

    ‘Preciate it, Michael, and actually, save for Tariq’s opinion on my quasi-comparison between AI and Nashy, I don’t think Steve is just Superman. But he certainly is a special player, just the same. My point is that AI probably should’ve taken a few more critical looks at himself, because he’s been the man of those Sixers teams. Even Tracy McGrady has gone out of his way to make a difference according to what his team needed in the past, beyond scoring. AI has always used his strength (scoring) as a crutch and a means of self-defense, without actually seemingly acknowledging any changes he could’ve made to better hi presence from a team perspective.
    It’s sad that he hasn’t really evolved at all. I don’t think he’s really a smarter player, just more weathered and less disruptive on the whole. I’m not really sure what that says about him, either. He is a tragedy in a minute sort of way.

  • flash

    don’t u people get it? he’s gonna do it his way til d end ala tony montana. change of heart is not an option…. scarface ended up dead though…

  • Weapon X

    Th3 Answer.

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    I understand but I have to say that Allen Iverson has never played with an Amar’e Stoudemire caliber of in the paint beast.

    If he did, would he have two MVP awards? :)

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    That was a good piece San(dy).
    I appreciate you putting in the effort to write that.
    I agree with your sentiments and point of view.
    Your points were valid and well thought out.
    If I can make an observation though.. sometimes your writing was flowing really well, other times it appeared forced. Like the “eff that” part at the end of the piece. It seemed un-natural. Just something that tugged at me a little as I was reading.
    Also, lol @ flash.

  • Trout

    I agree AI needs to evelove his game but if you list the players that Nssh has played with throughout his career and the fact that as a rookie he palyed along side Jason Kidd, then compare Ai’s team mates for the majority of his career (and took to the finals) they are not in any shape or form the same. I can not remember a season that anyone has relied on Steve Nash as their number one scoring option in any team and where’s AI’s Dirk / Matrix / STAT? You ask why he doesn’t make his team mates better but look at his team mates.

    Yes it’s time that he turns the corner in terms of his playing style he now has a team that he can differ to so let’s see if he can make use of them.

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

    I don’t think a bonafide winner gets to three conference finals and no finals throughout his career. And then you ask a former MVP who dragged a crew of George Lynches and Aaron McKies to the promised land to follow that guy’s example because they’re both guards from the same draft class?! I’m not saying Nash is a chump, but saying that Nash is a winner and Iverson isn’t is like saying Dan Brown is a better writer than Nabokov because he sold more copies.
    To be fair, Nash isn’t Dan Brown. He’s probably Nicholson Baker or something. But he sure as sh*t aint Shakespeare.

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

    If Nash were on that 2001 Sixer team instead of AI, they wouldn’t have made the playoffs. Bona fide winner my lottery balls.

  • Chazz Michael Michaels

    hmm? are you writing a peacefull death letter or a sports atricle? right now it sounds like instead of writing about Allen Iverson’s firt game back you are trying to write a piece about a dead AI???

  • http://www.sixers.com 360vue

    @Tariq, are you being argumentative for no purpose? I hope so… If you cannot comprehend how Nash’s adaption of his game is not relevant for AI then you don’t know much about ball…

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

    Professing ignorance is the first step to acquiring knowledge. Please enlighten me. How did Steve Nash adapt his game?

  • http://www.stepienrules.com Brendan

    Well written and well said. I’m pulling for AI here – in this, the last of his Mario lives – and I can’t help but look at this roster and think, Elton Brand, Andre Igoudala, Lou Williams when healthy, AI and a host of other young talented guys – it wouldn’t be crazy for a roster like that to do some damage one day soon down the road. We’ll see though, but as you said, a huge part of that is going to have to be AI re-inventing himself, and coming up with another Answer.