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Allen Iverson to sign deal with Besiktas Cola Turka

Oct 24, 2010, 11:12 PM EDT

Allen Iverson

Last we heard, our dear friend Allen Iverson was negotiating a potential contract with Besiktas Cola Turka, an Istanbul-based team of the Turkish Basketball League. “Penalties” embedded in the contract were the reported hang-up between Iverson and Turka but something had to give for A.I. to play basketball in Europe next season, and give it did. According to Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports, Iverson has agreed to a two-year, $4 million deal that will put him in the TBL next season.

Iverson has fallen from grace in slow motion. As a once-heralded MVP and leader of an overachieving Philadelphia 76ers team that made it all the way to the 2001 NBA finals, Iverson was a household name. His crossover was ubiquitous. His reputation hardly sterling, but a needed component of his creation myth. Iverson changed the game and its culture with his style and his swagger, while many dared not question the effects of his inefficient scoring style on the teams he supposedly championed.

The rest, as they say, is history. Iverson wore out his welcome in Philly, wore out his welcome in Denver, wore out his welcome in Detroit, wore out a welcome he probably never should have had in Memphis, and returned to Philly only to split shortly thereafter. All the while, Iverson as basketball revolutionary faded into the background, and what that revolutionary stood for on the hardwood itself took center stage. You can represent Iverson’s game in any number of ways, but at this stage in his career, he’s less efficient than ever, even more flawed as a defender than he was in his gamble-happy glory days, and forever tied to his own self-conception. Iverson’s ego, his work ethic, and his selfishness are no longer drowned out by the volume of his high-scoring game. He might still be good for a few spins of the turnstile (a fitting turn of phrase given AI’s status as a ticket draw and a notorious defensive dupe), but NBA owners and managers clearly don’t see him as being worth the hassle.

He’s still worth some hassle to someone, though. Iverson had offers to play in Turkey and China, and ultimately decided on Besiktas. Spears reports that Iverson’s deal will have an opt-out clause after the coming season, should he look to make an NBA return or perhaps jump to another league, but his deal will have no mid-season escape clause should a better offer come along. Iverson will be playing in Turkey this season. It’s a strange landing spot for a distinctly American basketball icon, but this is where Iverson’s path, ever unpredictable, has taken him.

  1. cp3nola - Oct 24, 2010 at 11:48 PM

    Iverson’s ego was never any worse than any other huge NBA star of the last 20 years. I think journalists like to play it up though because of the whole “rebel” thing. Iverson’s career has been exaggerated like crazy. He never averaged 30 shots a game and he hasn’t even averaged 15 shots a game in 4 seasons or so. His assist numbers were always Top 10, his “playoff” percentage is 70% (while rewritten history will lead you to believe that he was a team killer.).
    Iverson took his two main teams to higher ground. He took the Sixers from the worst record to the NBA Finals in just 5 seasons and he led Denver to their first 50 win season in twenty years. Don’t rewrite history because the end of his career was embarassing. It’s nothing different from Jordan, Olajuwon, Ewing, etc.

  2. cp3nola - Oct 25, 2010 at 12:04 AM

    I think this is a story because Iverson is still a very good NBA player (no longer an AllStar but still better than most guards). He would’ve been amazing as a 6th man Spark Plug because he can still score in bunches. Look at what he did against the Lakers last season. 15 pts in about six minutes. His reputation did him in, but it’s hard to insult a guy who’s about to make 4 million dollars BEFORE his endorsement deals and all that. Regardless, a first ballot hall of famer and he always kept it interesting.

  3. david8726 - Oct 25, 2010 at 3:05 AM

    Iverson never fulfilled his full potential.

    His ego was a big reason for this. The other problem was that NBA GMs, owners, and the league as a whole enabled him.

    GMs labeled him a “franchise player” and he was paid as such. The league marketed him as a huge star. This never should have happened. Even at his very best he was never in the same category as true franchise players like Wade, Kobe, LeBron, Garnett, etc. He was almost always a second tier player because he was never as efficient a scorer or as good a defender as any of those guys. His MVP was one of the biggest farces in the history of the award.

    Still, his owner in Philly gave him the keys to the kingdom, and Iverson wasn’t gonna have it any other way.

    If he somehow could have been brought into a situation where he could have played as a 2nd or 3rd option on a good team for most of his career (and had he accepted this role), he might have won a championship.

    It’s a shame, really.

    • tubal22 - Oct 25, 2010 at 4:42 AM


      I disagree. I think he was a top tier player when he was in his prime, compared to the other talent in the game at the time. Remember this was when Jordan retired. There was no one else who could be a superstar. Iverson was scoring 20+ points in ’97 on, his second year in the league.

      Kobe didn’t come into his own until the 2001 season. Duncan was there, but he’s not “superstar” material. (Even though he’s a better fundamental ball player, he didn’t have the flash)

      So for 3 years, deserved or not, Iverson was one of the faces of the league.

      I wouldn’t put him in the same tier as Kobe or Lebron or even Wade. But during his time he was one of the top 3 players in the NBA.

      That said, i think he’s a prima donna and a baby, and I’m glad no one else gave him a shot this year. He doesn’t deserve one.

  4. zblott - Oct 25, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    Here’s a very recent piece about his legacy and what he’s meant to the game.

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