Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What's the Question?


Allen Iverson, aka The Answer, aka AI, has played his last game for the the Philadelphia 76ers. Iverson demanded a trade over the weekend and the 76ers are doing everything in their power to grant that request. He hasn't played for the team since last week and his locker has been cleaned out, so it appears that their once Rosy union has definitely reached the "irreconcilable differences" stage.

The 76ers went into the last off season with the intention of trading Iverson, but for some reason they were unable to pull off a deal. The Boston Celtics were apparently willing suitors, but Philly was not happy with the package that was offered. They are in a much worse position now. Indiana had a similar situation last year when they were forced to trade Ron Artest in the middle of the season and could not get equal value for him. The Sixers are now going to be forced to trade the 3rd highest per game scorer in the history of the game for mere cents on the dollar. The Timberwolvews, Warriors, Pacers, Celtics, Bobcats and others are willing to consider a trade, but it's just not that easy to trade a player with Iverson's salary. There are the salary cap issues to resolve and Iverson will have a say in where he eventually ends up. In fact there were reports that he has already vetoed a deal that would have sent him to Charlotte.

The question, in this break up is, who is to blame? The answer is "The Answer". Iverson has been notoriously difficult to coach throughout his entire career. He is without a doubt the best player on his team, but he is not the kind of player who makes his teammates better. In fact he once gave this illuminating quote when asked about missing practice:

"If I can't practice, I can't practice. It is as simple as that. It ain't about that at all. It's easy to sum it up if you're just talking about practice. We're sitting here, and I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we're talking about practice. I mean listen, we're sitting here talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, but we're talking about practice. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game last it's my last but we're talking about practice man. How silly is that? I know it's important, I honestly do but we're talking about practice. We're talking about practice man. We're talking about practice. We're talking about practice. We're not talking about the game. We're talking about practice.

Iverson has not exactly built his reputation as team player. He has been in the top three in field goal attempts every year since 1999, with the exception of 2004 when he was injured. His career field goal percentage is a horrendous .421. That means that he misses almost six out of every ten shots he attempts (Even someone like Dominique Wilkins, who was known for his sometimes questionable shot selection, had a .461 career shooting percentage). This hasn't stopped him from chucking them up though. Clearly Iverson plays the game as if he is the only star in town. Basketball is not, unfortunately for "The Answer", a one man game. One great player cannot lead a team to a championship, regardless of what he thinks. The 76ers reached the NBA finals in 2001 ( a five game loss to the Shaq-Kobe Lakers) and Iverson won the MVP award, it has been all downhill for the franchise since then. Iverson has continued to score, but the team has only gotten as far as the conference semi-finals once since 2001.

It's probably time for Iverson and the 76ers to move on. It has become clear that the franchise is going nowhere with Iverson, and a change in course is probably overdue. The 76ers have a history of bad superstar trades (Barkley and Chamberlain were basically traded away for nothing) and given their current situation, this will probably join the list. Trading Iverson won't be the answer to all of their problems, but at least "The Answer" will be someone else's problem.

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