OK, those weren’t Big Sexy’s exact words. But in reviewing the somewhat underwhelming end to Allen Iverson’s brief tenure in Motown, Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock insists, “Iverson’s career as an NBA legend died of self-inflicted wounds this season in Detroit. Much like the death of his role model, rapper Tupac Shakur, Iverson’s supporters will reject the news of his demise and predict a Machiavellian return, a Dr. J-like finish to Iverson’s career…picture me rolling on the floor laughing my ass off.” Elsewhere in the piece, Whitlock compares himself to Ron Jeremy. Is it ok if I picture something else?
Winning has never really mattered to Allen Iverson. He is the embodiment of everything that has gone wrong in America, an unexposed, all-style-little-substance Hall of Famer.
In five months, Iverson accomplished what Flip Saunders couldn’t in three years. The Answer turned the six-time Eastern Conference finalists into a hanging-by-a-string, eighth-place playoff qualifier.
And then he quit, citing back problems, a reduced role and lack of interest. Officially the Pistons deactivated Iverson for the remainder of the season due to injuries. The truth is, Iverson took his ball and went home, uncomfortable with the thought of easing back into the rotation with limited participation in practice and games.
Iverson said he’d rather retire than come off the bench, help the Pistons win and represent Detroit. Loser.
This column came to me last week when I was in The Motor City covering the NCAA Tournament. Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans shocked everyone, advancing to the title game and claiming they wanted to serve as an inspiration to the economically depressed people of their state.
Meanwhile, Iverson gave up on Chocolate City, a chocolate coach (Michael Curry), a chocolate general manager (Joe Dumars) and an all-chocolate, one-Argentine roster.
I mention race because Iverson, his tatts, his swagger, his rap sheet and his style of play all supposedly gave him a special level of street cred and no-sellout status.
That’s funny, ’cause I always thought Iverson’s cred came from putting the ’01 Sixers on his back and leading a supporting cast Whitlock accurately recalls as on Aaron McKie, Eric Snow, Tyrone Hill and an aging Dikembe Mutombo to an Eastern Conference title. Or from his prior willingness to play through the sort of injuries that would’ve disabled a player more concerned with self-preservation.
There’s little about Iverson’s ’08-09 season that enhances the PG’s legacy, but Whitlock goes beyond mere hyperbole in labeling A.I. a race traitor. And it’s a tad ironic, too, because if you had to name another divisive figure who seems to have difficulty meshing as a team player, one of the first names that would come to mind is Jason Whitlock.