My former HOOPSWORLD colleague Wendall Maxey was at last night's game and wrote a nice piece about how the Pistons have started to come together since Allen Iverson's arrival:
But with Iverson leading Detroit to a 10-4 mark in December and the Pistons losing on Wednesday night in Portland to end a seven-game winning streak, the adjustment period with Iverson getting used to a new system and team is officially over.
Winning is proof.
[...] Since the trade, Detroit has gone 16-12 in the 28 games Iverson has played for the Pistons. But change comes in different shapes and forms. There is change on the court – players learning Iverson's tendencies and vice-versa – and then there is change off the court. That's where Iverson has made an obvious impact.
"It's an honor to play with him. Personally, he's just very humble," said center Jason Maxiell, thinking about what he's learned about Iverson the past few months.
"He's not the type of guy that goes around talking about himself all the time. He's a winner inside."
Not only is it an honor to play with him, it's also an honor to play against him -- at least if you're Blazers rookie Jerryd Bayless. Ben from BlazersEdge talked to Bayless (via TH) after the game:
Postgame, he admitted that he was taken aback just being on the same court as Allen Iverson, struggling for words to describe facing off against someone he's been watching play professional basketball for more than half of his life. "It's unbelievable... you know... it's just... when you go against these guys you've been watching your whole life, and you're finally on the court, it's kind of tough not to get like... 'damn, that's AI right there.' 'It's Rasheed on the bench over there.' I mean, you can see him right there!"
What was Bayless thinking about while he helped shift the momentum during the third quarter, "I'm stealing the ball from AI, I was trying not to smile," laughing at the memory of himself. Still in disbelief after talking about it for a few minutes, he shook his head and repeated himself, "I mean, that's AI right there." His wide, giggly smile broadcast his satisfaction.
Bayless hasn't played much this year (he's sat more games than he's played, and his eight points last night were a career high), but if he ends up being half the player he looked like last July in the Vegas Summer League, he'll be a star. Portland is going to be a contender for a long, long time.