Will Iverson Retire?


“I’d rather retire before I do this again. I can’t be effective playing this way. I’m not used to it. It’s tough for me both mentally and physically.”

Those were the words Allen Iverson spoke after his last game. Since that time, he’s gone on an indefinite leave to deal with family matters. He’s been frustrated with injury, coming off the bench, and playing less than 20 minutes a game. Sound familiar? It is. Back on April 3, 2009 Iverson was granted a leave of absence from the Detroit Pistons. Back pain and frustration with coaches were hampering Iverson then as well. Why Iverson is currently on leave is not particularly important. He has already stated that he is contemplating retirement, rather than being a bench player with a bad back. He’s obviously at odds with the Grizzlies, who want him as a sixth man. He may not realize that he is at odds with the whole Association.


Just because you're selfish, doesn't mean you don't sacrifice.

The first consideration is Iverson’s back injury. Iverson has a long and storied history of injury during his career. The question is the severity of the injury. Is he milking it, as cynics ask? Or is he hiding the how truly damaged he is? Iverson has been thrown around his entire career. It’s not surprising to think that his body may have finally given out, after 13 years of pinball. A chronic back injury would pretty much make Iverson’s decision for him. However, if his back, and really his body, is curable then Iverson needs to decide if he wants to be a bench player or if he would rather retire with his career PPG in tact.

There is no doubt in my mind that a healthy Iverson could be an excellent sixth man. He does score a point every 1.5 minutes (career). He is a well established scorer with a scoring title and MVP to his credit. What’s more, bringing Iverson off the bench stresses the opposing teams defense. They would need a quick, top notch defender out on the floor to shadow Iverson at all times. Given this proclivity for scoring, and added tactical advantage, Iverson could really give his team a boost in the sixth man role. However, he has made it clear that he does not see himself in this role. He wants only to be a star and starter on his team. He has recited this for two seasons now. He left the Detroit Pistons when talk of him coming off the bench surfaced, and now that he has been forced into the role, he has left the Memphis Grizzlies as well.

Iverson clearly believes that he can still be a starter. However, he may be the only person in the NBA who still thinks so. During a long off-season, Iverson sat around and waited to be picked up. The Grizzlies finally bit, but they were the only fish nipping at the lure. It’s been clear that they’ve already invested more in Iverson than they will get back. Other GM’s will be even warier of Iverson now. Certainly, a healthy, compliant, happy Iverson could be a benefit to any squad. However, that is clearly not what a team is getting these days when they bring AI aboard. On the other hand, this is the NBA, and even Stephon Marbury got back on a squad. Anything is possible.

Marbury’s recent stint with the Celtics actually provides the type of scenario that I think is most appealing to Iverson. He may not want to be a sixth man. However, he may realize that he does not have a choice. In that case, the course of action that makes most sense is being a sixth man on an NBA Championship contending team. The Celtics, Cavaliers, Magic, Nuggets, Rockets, and Suns are just a few teams that could make good use of his services.

There are a lot of questions and possible outcomes raised by Iverson’s leave of absence. Personally, I think Iverson will retire. I do not think that his ego and body can currently absorb coming off the bench to continue to play in the NBA. Iverson will retire, and when his body is right, and his heart aches for competition no one else is able to give him, he will come back, come off the bench, and throw his body around again, all in hopes of getting another win, and maybe even that championship ring that eluded him in 2001.


2 Responses to “Will Iverson Retire?”

  1. jpalumbo Says:

    Nice writeup. It would be great if AI could accept a 6th man scoring punch role like Manu, Barbosa, and Jason Terry. A team like Orlando could definitely benefit from having a creative penetrating guard come off the pine and create easy spot up shooting and offensive rebounding opportunities to get the most out of all that depth. Doesn’t sound like AI wants any part of that role though.

  2. UNK Paw Says:

    Nice article. I do think his style of play has beaten the heck out of his body. I have always liked AI for his style of play and never coming off the court even when he was hurt. I am starting to wonder if an overseas team makes him a ridiculous offer and he goes over there and flourishes. AI just wants to play. He doesn’t like to sit the bench at all. Not even in warmups. It is really hard to see an athlete like that in his late days. It must really kill their insides when they can no longer perform at the level they are used to.

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