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Allen Iverson still wants to finish career in NBA

Jun 7, 2011, 12:49 PM EDT

Former NBA player Allen Iverson waves to his fans after signing a contract with Besiktas in Istanbul Reuters

There was a time — just a couple years ago — when Allen Iverson was not willing to accept a bench role in the NBA. A time when he became a distraction for the Grizzlies then 76ers, his play and attitude deteriorating to the point no team offered him a deal last summer.

Now, back from a season Turkey and getting healthy, Iverson sounded humbled but still wanting a chance in an interesting interview with SLAM Magazine (you should go read the entire thing).

I want to finish my career out in the NBA, if that’s possible. And that’s in any capacity. I did a lot of things, I made a lot of mistakes as far as my actions and things that I’ve said, and I think that was the reason for me not being in the NBA. My whole thing now in trying to get back is letting any organization know that I’m willing to play any part that they want me to play.

SLAM: What’s drawing you back out on the court? Just a love for the game?

AI: [Long pause; starts to choke up] I love to play basketball. I’ve always said, If I can’t do what I’m accustomed to doing out there on the basketball court, I’ll leave it alone. If I can’t be effective and help my team win basketball games out there, than I don’t want to do it… I’ll play for a team in any capacity just to get back out there doing what I love to do.

I’m not sure he will get that chance.

There are a lot of questions out there from team executives. In the SLAM interview — again, go read the whole thing — Iverson denies having any drinking or gambling problems. That is still not the reputation around the league and some GM would need to be convinced.

The next question is does he still have the game, after an injury that he described as the worst pain of his career while playing in Turkey? Can he bounce back? Is he still explosive enough to get to the rim in the NBA, facing young athletes (who idolized him when they were growing up)? The role for Iverson at this point in his career would be as a scoring guard off the bench, a guy who could come in and change the pace and get 10 or so points in limited minutes. Can the former All-Star, All-Everything really accept that?

Finally, can he convince a team that he will not be a distraction? Iverson will be a draw at the gate, but will he be too big a distraction in the locker room? Media will flock to him; will Iverson clash with the coach and demand a larger role publicly? He sounds like a player who has accepted his place, who just wants to be a good team player. But GMs can be risk averse at times, so who knows if one will give him a shot.

But you can bet Iverson will be working this summer to see if someone will give him that chance.

  1. barkley4life - Jun 7, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    That’s what happens when you take your gift for granted. He wasted a chance at being considered an all time great.

    Sixers tried and tried to pieces around him and his SELFISHNESS could not make it work at all.

    • helinhater - Jun 7, 2011 at 2:34 PM

      He will still go down as an all-time great when it’s all said and done.

      He will be a Hall of Famer…

      At their peak, few players were able to dominate like AI.

      And most, if not all of them, had decent help.

      AI never had anything other than scrubs. Even Lebron had better teammates in CLE.

      • barkley4life - Jun 7, 2011 at 6:08 PM

        And he took practice for a joke, never lead by example, was a constant headache and is playing in Turkey. No one is questioning his talent or game but he was one of the worst professionals the league has seen. Didn’t take of his body and ended up a shell of himself so unwanted he couldn’t get picked up by a contender for short minutes. I am a Sixers fan they had a great run in a short season but his lack of professionalism to his team cost him in the long run his career….have fun in Turkey.

      • barkley4life - Jun 7, 2011 at 6:11 PM

        It’s hard to put pieces around a point guard who doesn’t want to run point…how many 5 ’11 two guards have one a title. He ran off Stackhouse and Larry Hughes…he was is and always will be me me me.

  2. rbrown4495 - Jun 7, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    If Allen still has the skills and is not a distraction, It would be great to see him play one last time in the NBA and retire on a positive note as well. The great thing about americans is that we will normally give former stars 2 or 3 chances to redeem themselves. Allen was a controversial athlete but he had some great years as well.

  3. denverhoopdreams - Jun 7, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    Denver would be more than glad to take him on again.. I mean… whats practice?

    • denverhoopdreams - Jun 7, 2011 at 2:23 PM

      No one liked that AI reference? Man….

      • nyg17 - Jun 7, 2011 at 3:59 PM

        It wasn’t clever in the least. Try again.

      • denverhoopdreams - Jun 7, 2011 at 6:41 PM

        I wasn’t trying to be clever at all. I was trying to be a complete and utter smart ass.

  4. silk32 - Jun 7, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    NBA league officials and owners have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Iverson and Stephon Marbury represented the new breed of players in the league. They were a pain in the rear end for many years. Marbury got his “comeuppance” and now it’s time for Iverson to get his. That said, he’s brought us a lot of fond memories and he deserve to finish up in the league like the other immortals >>

    • SmackSaw - Jun 7, 2011 at 3:24 PM

      He’d fit with the Knicks!

      • denverhoopdreams - Jun 7, 2011 at 6:42 PM

        Did you see the last time him and Melo got together… didn’t work much.

  5. dsims7 - Jun 7, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    No A.I., take Brett Farve and just go away!!

  6. skip3525 - Jun 7, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    He said that before but was willing to accept a bench role in Memphis.
    What team will take a chance on him is the key? And at what price?

  7. ibejeph - Jun 7, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    AI deserves another shot!

  8. randysavage4ever - Jun 7, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    A.I. is an amazing athlete … in high school football he has the Virginia state record for 6 interceptions in 1 game!

    -do they even throw it more then 20 times in high school?

    On to B-Ball – him playing at Georgetown was inspiring when I was a kid, the team with Othella Harrington, Victor Page, Jerome Williams, the patton leather black Jordans the team had – THAT WAS MY SQUAD – which is also why I dont like Calipari or Marcus Camby for eliminating them in the tourney…

    anyways in the NBA – HA

    you can’t tell me him taking the 6ers to the NBA Finals that year was not amazing – he had matt geiger, aaron mckie, eric snow, etc… WHO?!?!?! – these days players like Wade-Lebron-Bosh gotta form all star squads to get to the finals – ALLEN IVERSON DID IT BY HIMSELF LITERALLY!!!!

    ok so they didnt win – phil-shaq-kobe in prime – no one is gonna win that, he did win game 1 tho in LA and had that nasty pull back J on Tyron Lue – If you watched that moment live and did not go crazy when it happened you dont love basketball…

    Yeah he did some thuggish things, he was wild, but if you saw the espn 30 for 30 documentary on him you would understand that his surroundings were NOT exactly the best influence on him, but that does not make an excuse at all…

    Allen Iverson never shot or raped anyone, we give Vick and other 2nd chances, why not AI?

    hey Dallas could use him RIGHT NOW with Terry being locked up for some offensive fire power off the bench…

    Regardless of what happens Allen Iverson is and will always be an icon – for his crossover, personality, size, & passion.

  9. drmonkeyarmy - Jun 7, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    Interestingly, today happens to be Iverson’s birthday. Maybe it is just wishful thinking, but I can see him going to a team like the Lakers. They need bench help and Kobe won’t tolerate any nonsense.

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