ALEX PREWITT: The days of stardom for Allen Iverson seem like little else but a distant memory. Gone are the fadeaway jumpers and swift crossovers, in place are more doubters than ever before. Failure has replaced success for the greatest player under 6-feet in NBA history. The 30-points-per-game seasons are a thing of the past, bumped off Iverson’s legacy in favor of his detrimental four-game stint with Memphis and his stock market-like crash into oblivion.
Iverson has forever been viewed as a me-first player, a star obsessed with remaining in the spotlight with an unhealthy refusal to take a back seat — he chose fame over winning. As his career winds down — a thought seemingly unfathomable just seasons ago — Iverson now has the opportunity to right the ship, to come off the bench for a contender and finally get the one thing missing from his surefire Hall of Fame resume: a ring.
When LeBron James announced his decision to move to South Beach, I immediately thought of the Miami Heat’s bench. How could championship-starved veterans not flock to Miami, accept the minimum salary and swallow their pride for the chance to mentor a dynasty? When Shaquille O’Neal went to Boston instead — a move not all-to surprising given his history with LeBron — it further affirmed the obvious: Allen Iverson would make a great fit in Miami.
The Heat have Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers as their two point guards, but neither are polished veterans. Landing the swagger and the experience of Iverson would prove invaluable to the development of the young guards. While A.I. clearly doesn’t have the speed to lead the league in steals, nor can be still be the go-to scorer on a championship contender, he’s been around for a while. The key, of course, will be Iverson’s willingness to ignore the image transformation associated with moving to a reserve role.
Ultimately, it all boils down to perception: which destination will be the most valuable for Iverson’s legacy, for how he will be viewed when he finally hangs up his sneakers? Pushing aside pride in favor of a championship — a very reasonably attainable goal in Miami, and not so much in other rebuilding spots like Charlotte, New York or New Jersey — would be the coup de grace, the absolute best thing for Allen Iverson’s career.
HOWARD MEGDAL: I believe the grand final move that could rehabilitate the unjustly maligned career of Allen Iverson could be a move to the New York Knicks. This is predicated on New York also acquiring Carmelo Anthony, of course.
But a team with Anthony/Iverson/Stoudemire would be awfully entertaining to watch. And it could be what Allen Iverson is remembered for.
A motivated Iverson would fit well with the Mike D’Antoni offense. And in an Eastern Conference that is wide-open, Miami aside, the Knicks could find themselves in pursuit of a spot in the NBA Finals relatively quickly.
Now consider this possibility: if Iverson and the Knicks manage to upend the Heat and LeBron, the man who spurned New York (that’s what he’s thought of out here; we didn’t really know Cleveland existed), what will his legacy be? Will he really be remembered for missing practice?
Or will he be a shining example of a player who needed a stage big enough to win, and finally got it, thanks to The Big Apple?
I believe it will be the latter. And no other destination offers Iverson that chance at redemption.