A Letter to Allen Iverson
Casey thinks sticking it out in Turkey is the answer.
Dear Allen Iverson,
I hope this letter finds you well. You don’t know me, but we used to compete against each other a few times a year during the 2002-2005 NBA seasons. Well… we didn’t actually guard each other (I’m not exactly a “defensive stopper”), but you know what I’m saying.
Anyway, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome you to the world of European basketball. I know you’ve been out here for over a month now, but I didn’t want to bother you until you got settled. Now, I want to make sure I send this out before it’s too late. I heard a rumor a couple days ago that you might be cutting your European season short and heading back to the US soon. I don’t know how much truth there is to this rumor, but if it is…don’t go. Stick it out. I know I’m not your agent, manager, or even an acquaintance, but hear me out.
Honestly, I haven’t always been your biggest fan (not that you care what I think of you), but I have been rooting for you ever since you came to play for Besiktas Cola Turka. I know that you would rather be playing in the NBA right now, but I believe coming to play in Europe is a good move for you at this point in time. Basketball in Turkey (and Europe) is still growing. Having a star of your magnitude is great for that country. Leaving the luxuries of the NBA will prove to others that you are humble and ready just to play the game. Coming home early would be a huge step backwards.
You are a much better player than I am, but I think there is a fact of life that all American players face when they first travel over the Atlantic: Your first months in Europe will be a HUGE adjustment — both on and off the court — and you will struggle a bit. This fact is especially true for a player who has joined his team mid-season, like you did. The chemistry of any team is first established in training camp and you missed out on that. Now, your teammates have to adjust to your game as well as the massive attention you demand because of your celebrity status. It’s unrealistic to think that you would just hop a plane to Istanbul, Turkey and immediately lead your team to victories…even a player as gifted as you.
My first European season came in 2006 in Spain, after three years in the NBA. It took me several months to finally feel like I was a valued part of my team. My second year in Europe was so much easier for me to handle and I was much more successful. I believe it will be the same with you, but it will require you to stick around that long.
Your “Per Game” averages (as of December 9, 2010) after seven contests:
Team Record (since your arrival): 3-4
Your fans in America might expect you to dominate offensively because the talent in Turkey isn’t at the same level as the NBA. What those people don’t realize is that scoring a ton of points in Europe is very difficult to do. You aren’t going to shoot 20 times per game…in fact, I’ll be shocked if you average more than 12-13 attempts per game and average more than 13-15 points. You aren’t going to lead the league in minutes played like you did routinely in Philadelphia. But who cares?
Don’t worry about the stats! Just stay humble and keep working at it. The European game is so different than what you have been accustomed to in the NBA, but it’s still just basketball. You will eventually find your old form, but it will take longer than a month or even two. The only stat that really matters to any real fan is wins. Amongst all the differences, that’s something that NBA and Europe have in common.
Good luck with the rest of your season.
Casey Jacobsen is a former SLAM High School First Team All-American and NCAA First Team All-American. He currently plays for Brose Baskets in Bamberg, Germany.