The Truth About The Answer?

First of all, remind me to never cross Jason Whitlock.  I don't think I've ever seen such a thoroughly written tongue-lashing.  Whitlock essentially opened a case of whoop ass, and a gallon of rubbing alcohol for good measure, and dumped it all over Allen Iverson's openly wounded world.  Just a guess, but I don't think A.I. will be granting any interviews to FOX Sports after Whitlock's quotes Thursday:

He reminds us of our own shortcomings and failures.  In the pantheon of spoiled, media-cuddled, overhyped professional basketball players, Allen Iverson reigns supreme.

...Iverson said he'd rather retire than come off the bench, help the Pistons win and represent Detroit. Loser.

...Iverson's narcissistic play and demeanor prevented him from developing a Tonto, a Pippen, a McHale, a Worthy, a Dumars. Iverson has never been accused accurately of making the players around him better.

...Iverson, a free agent this offseason, will return to the league next year. I'd imagine he'll try to cherry-pick a title by attempting to join LeBron James. It won't be a replay of Kevin Garnett teaming with Paul Pierce.

It'll be Titanic II with Allen Iceberg.

I've heard my fair share of Iverson bashing, but this article's passionate disgust for the guy referred to as "the Answer" probably trumps all. 

I think the best part of the article is when Whitlock analogizes Iverson with the iceberg that ultimately took Jack's life in that 1997 epic flick that had so many DiCaprio lusting girls (and maybe me) crying as Rose let go, even though she said she wouldn't.  That part--Whitlock's analogy--was funny to me, but I don't think it's entirely true regarding what Iverson could bring to a team next season. Take the Pistons for example, I don't think this team is clinging for their playoff lives, say on a piece of wood in the ocean, solely because of Allen Iverson.  (Last Titanic reference, I promise).

We tend to get so caught up in imagining Iverson as a pinata at our birthday parties that we forget about Chauncey Billups, the leader that helped get us to six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals.  I think some fans underestimate how much he truly meant to this team.  All I know for sure is, the same people who wanted Billups gone for the Miami/Beasley draft pick or Carmello this past summer, and were raving after the Iverson deal this early winter, were crying for a mulligan just a couple weeks after the trade was made.

I'm not defending Iverson, though.  I don't think the role he wanted makes us any better, but I also don't fully believe he's what made us worse.  We've shown in the past few weeks, that we're just as capable of losing without him as we were with him.  The Billups departure did this Pistons team more harm than Iverson's arrival.  I just think Iverson served as a distraction to that realization.

So is Whitlock's piece the whole truth about Iverson? Probably not.  And that's not just because he claims Iverson is the reason we're clinging for our playoff lives right now.  He completely puts down one of the NBA's all-time greatest scorers, and in my mind that's not all mashed potatoes and gravy to me.

Iverson is without a doubt one of the better scorers in NBA history.  He's third in NBA history in points per game, behind only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain, respectively.  Whitlock can say all he wants about how many shots he takes in a game, which Whitlock indicated is 22.  Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, and Kobe are atops the NBA in scoring this season and guess how many shots they are averaging per game?  A hair (off my balding head) below 22.  And honestly, if I had Iverson's talent and my teammates were about as talented as the cast in Hang Time I would probably shoot what seems to be every time down the floor, too (By the way, I'm referring to his teammates in Philadelphia--e.g., Aaron McKie, Eric Snow, Tyrone Hill and 34-year-old Dikembe Mutombo--where he spent the majority of his career).

Unfortunately, Iverson's style of play didn't translate well to Detroit.  For nearly the last decade, the Pistons have thrived off a successful system built around ball movement and defense, a couple aspects of the game Iverson doesn't brag to his grandmother about.

That being said, yes, the way A.I. handled his role in Detroit was a fissure in all our butts, but I also don't think it necessarily warranted everything Whitlock said, considering the success Iverson has had throughout his career.  I can't tell if he really hates Iverson or not. I mean he's had Iverson's entire career and six days after the 'out for season' announcement to gather his cool. 

Maybe he's feverishly pissed off that Iverson didn't stick to his words, "I'll do whatever it takes to win a championship."   Surely had A.I. shut his mouth and at least tried to do that, it could have gone down as an ultimate tasters choice moment in NBA history: "Third leading scorer in NBA history sacrifices nearly 15 points off his average to help the Pistons win a championship."  I'm guilty of imagining those headlines when I heard his quotes. Perhaps Jason Whitlock had written the entire story and had to scrap it when Iverson reneged his desire to help the team.  Who knows?

Instead, it just seems that Iverson is going to be remembered as that selfish scorer who cared more about his stats than helping a proven team get over that Eastern Conference Finals hump.  For that, Whitlock was right on.

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