So, today was a little weird. Joe Dumars announced that the Allen Iverson experiment had ended on April 3, and yet six days later there's a flood of articles (and TV segments) about the situation. (Hopefully it won't take another six days for Rick Kamla to realize how foolish he sounds in his AI vs. Will Bynum comparison. He hosts a nightly highlight show -- did he already forget about that 26-point explosion?)
In any case, here's Jason Whitlock's column for Fox Sports, which I'd call an out-and-out hit piece if I didn't agree with most of what was written:
He could've been the second-best point guard in the history of the game (after Magic Johnson). But the idea of being a distributor first and scorer second stood in the way of a futile, ridiculous effort to chase Jordan. At 6-foot, 165 pounds, Iverson had as much of a chance of filling Jordan's Jordans as yours truly being the next Ron Jeremy.
Iverson tailored a compromise position — points guard. For much of his career, he played both backcourt positions at the same time, leaving his teammates plenty of opportunity to stand around and watch. In 13 NBA seasons, he's averaged 22 shots, 27 points, six assists and 42 percent shooting from the field. In comparison, Isiah Thomas averaged 16 shots, 19 points, nine assists and connected on 45 percent of his shots. In 11 seasons, Thomas played in 111 playoff games and won two titles. Iverson has played in 71 postseason games and advanced to the conference and NBA Finals just once. (It's also worth mentioning that in two college seasons, Thomas won an NCAA title, and in the same amount of time, Iverson never made the Final Four.)
Is the AI-Zeke argument completely fair? Maybe not, especially in regards to their college careers. But still, it's pretty interesting -- there's no question Thomas could fill buckets with the best of them when the situation called for it, but he spent most of his career trying to find his teammates, instead.
In a slightly more relevant column, Lisa Olson attended last night's game in New York for FanHouse, focusing more on the "what now?" angle for Detroit:
Wallace sounded like a loon the other day, when he declared the Pistons hadn't just found their swagger, they were a fair shot to win the NBA title. Really? The team with worrisome chemistry issues? The team that fell apart when Iverson and Richard Hamilton were asked to play basically the same position? The team that stuttered through an erratic season, that ranks 30th in scoring, that barely straddles a .500 record?
"Yeah, but that's not who we are today," Wallace was saying before he went out and scored 14 points and pulled down 12 boards and showed why he's a nightmare matchup on both ends of the court.
The Pistons speak about Iverson in roundabout circles, which is exactly how they played against the Knicks, Detroit's ball movement floating like figure eights through a defense that could not have been more lackadaisical. The Pistons won't knock the guy, not publicly anyway, but it's clear they aren't sending Iverson we-miss-you texts.