Saturday, December 09, 2006

Allen Iverson is leaving, I am crushed

I remember when Pat Croce held up the Iverson 1 jersey when the Sixers won the lottery and the right to pick the 'troubled' but dedicated Allen Iverson out of Georgetown. Allen was an exciting guy to watch in college, but his full potential was unknown. Was he going to be a new type of point guard, would he have to move to shooting guard, could he lead a team to a championship? Well, after 10 years, we've discovered that he completely broke the mold for 'type' of player, moved on to become a dangerous shooting guard, and he did lead a team to the pinnacle only to be rebuffed by one of the greatest tandems in talent the NBA ever saw (Shaq-Kobe).

Allen Iverson was one of the quickest players I have ever seen live, and what most impressed me was that he never took a night off. When the team struggled, you could see pain on his face. When he got teary eyed when the Sixers got knocked out of the Finals or Team USA did not win the Gold in '04, you knew he loved the game. Iverson cut across all racial lines of 'fandom' as middle aged white folks thought the tattoos might be 'too Negro', but his passion and effort were too strong for 'those fans' to not appreciate and love. Iverson had the look of a little kid on the court, when the Sixers were winning, and in an era of overpaid superstars, who mail it in some nights, Iverson lived and died for the game, his team, his city. The eyes are the window to the soul, and you could always tell with Iverson just how he was feeling on the court with one shot of his face. He was a joy to cheer on and watch.

My 3 favorite memories of Iverson are a mix of on the court and off the court.

3. The game 7 in the Raptors/Sixers playoff series in 2001. That 2001 season was a special one, but Iverson turned it up in the playoffs. Vince Carter had answers for the Answer that series, but in game 7, Iverson picked up the slack and carried the Sixers over the Raptors. All of this from the shortest guy on the court.

2. Iverson's entire special on ESPN that followed him for a week. Between the jokes about his hair stylist being gay, and he was "cool wit dat, ya know?" and the footage of him in the gym not to work out but to taunt his teammates, I was laughing most of the time. He even mnaged to look stoned a few times. It seemed like Iverson went about his non-basketball business so calmly and slowly because he was saving every ounce of energy for his games. It was a nice glimpse into his odd off court life.

1. The practice press conference. One of the funniest sports related interviews/press conferences ever. This is right up there with the Jim Mora "Playoffs" and Dennis Green "crown their asses" press conferences. He says practice non-stop. He starts to laugh after a while because of how much he is saying it. "Franchise player and you talkin' 'bout practice".

I hope that he does go to a decent team, and give them the edge to go over the top. The Bulls could be a decent fit. I also like the package of picks/players the Bulls could send our way. I want that number 1 pick from the Knicks. Between their lottery ping pong balls adn the Sixers' when both teams miss the playoffs, the chance to get Greg Oden is alive and well. As a Sixers fan, I have no doubt Billy King will screw this up. Get as much as you can, because it is not often you have to say goodbye to a superstar. Thank you Allen Iverson.

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