Thursday, November 5, 2009
Iverson Experiment On The Verge Of Blowing Up In Memphis
Well, that didn't take long. Less than a week into his Memphis Grizzlies career, Allen Iverson is not exactly happy with his current role of bench player. And who could blame him?
He's one of the 50 greatest players in the history of the NBA. Heck, you could even argue that pound-for-pound, inch-for-inch, he is THE greatest.
After playing only 18 minutes in his season debut--a loss in Sacramento--AI dropped the following quote on reporters after someone asked about his apparent sixth man role.
“No. I’m not a bench player. I’m not a sixth man,” Iverson said. “Look at my resume and that’ll show I’m not a sixth man. I don’t think it has anything to do with me being selfish. It’s just who I am. I don’t want to change what gave me all the success that I’ve had since I’ve been in this league. I’m not a sixth man. And that’s that.”
You know what? He's absolutely right. He's not a sixth man. He's a bonafide starter in this league, even after 13 bruise-filled seasons. I know that. You know that. He knows that. And the Grizzlies should have known that.
However, if for some reason, Memphis management actually thought AI couldn't deliver like the AI of old, they certainly didn't tell him that during the recruitment process, as Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace recently revealed on WHBQ-AM in Memphis.
“We had some discussions with him, but basically it’s like it is with all players," said Wallace. "You come in, lets see what you can do, let’s see how it fits in, maybe its starting, maybe its coming off the bench, let the coach determine how he feels like he can best exploit your talents and we’ll go from there."
You had discussions? Let's see how it fits in? Maybe it's starting, maybe it's coming off the bench? Uh, you kind of left that whole thing a little open-ended, didn't you Chris?
If what Wallace says is true and I'm the player in question, what he just said tells me that if I can prove to the coach that I am good enough to start, then I will start. Seems pretty plain and simple, and I am fairly certain that's exactly how Iverson read it as well.
However, it doesn't seem that Lionel Hollins quite sees it that way, or he's been told to see it another way. OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay have been penciled in as the foundation for this franchise going forward--that is, if the Grizzlies can sign Gay to a long-term deal.
These two young phenoms could be some of the best players of their generation, but their time is not now. It's in the future. In other words, the Grizzlies are smack-dab in the middle of a rebuilding process--something that AI never heard from Memphis, but something he wasn't trying to hear either.
"Nobody ever said anything about rebuilding. You know I wouldn't have come to a team, at 34 years old, that was in a rebuilding process," Iverson said. "I'm trying to win a championship. I thought I would have won a championship by now. I didn't come here for no money. I didn't come here for another scoring title or an All-Star game. I've done all that stuff. I want to win. If we are not trying to win, I have a problem. I'm assuming we are trying to win."
Evidently, Iverson and the Grizzlies don't share that assumption, or much else for that matter.
(Iverson and the Grizzlies play the Lakers Friday night on FS West HD and the Clippers Saturday night on Prime Ticket HD.)