Well, ask yourself one question: How could a coach-killer who allegedly monopolizes the ball, hates to practice and can't sublimate his game double as one of the most revered, respected players in the league? Why did the ex-players on "NBA Coast To Coast" (Anthony, Legler and Barry) trade Iverson war stories last night like they were trading stories about Keyser Söze? Why are Philly fans overwhelmingly heartbroken that he's leaving town? How can anyone blame Iverson for anything when he's been saddled with an incompetent front office and decidedly mediocre supporting cast for the past decade?
Consider the following:
Fact: He played with only one All-Star in Philly (the soon-to-be-decrepit Dikembe Mutombo in 2001), as well as a host of overpaid role players (Eric Snow, Aaron McKie, Kyle Korver, Kenny Thomas, Marc Jackson, Brian Skinner, Greg Buckner, Tyrone Hill, George Lynch, Corliss Williamson, Theo Ratliff), overpaid underachievers (Derrick Coleman, Keith Van Horn, Sam Dalembert, Joe Smith), overpaid and washed-up veterans (Todd MacCulloch, Toni Kukoc, Chris Webber, Glenn Robinson, Matt Geiger, Billy Owens), and underachieving lottery picks (Jerry Stackhouse, Tim Thomas, Larry Hughes).
Fact: Other than Mutombo, Iverson's four best teammates were Coleman (the signature head case of the 1990s), Stackhouse (a selfish scorer who's been traded three times), Ratliff (a shotblocker with no offensive skills) and Andre Igoudala (a talented athlete who hasn't improved in two years).
Fact: Since Larry Brown left in 2003, he's played for four coaches in four years (Randy Ayers, Chris Ford, Jim O'Brien and Mo Cheeks)
Fact: Thanks to the C-Webb trade and their botched salary cap, the Sixers can't trade for an impact guy unless they keep rolling the dice with somebody else's problem ... a strategy that hasn't worked for them in five years.
Can you blame A.I. for wanting out? Hell, no. That's why we're knee-deep into one of the weirdest weeks in recent NBA history -- Philly effectively putting a future Hall of Famer on eBay for a three-day auction, with a trade expected to be consummated any second -- and I'm not sure anyone fully understands the ramifications here. This isn't just any All-Star player. This could be the basketball bargain of the decade.
Here's what you get if you trade for Allen Iverson ...
• One of the best 30 players of all-time, a future Hall of Famer, a ferocious competitor and someone who's still in his prime as an offensive player (thanks to multiple rule changes that made it impossible to contain quicker guards who can beat players off the dribble). He's good for 30-35 a night. Pencil it in.
Mychal Watts/WireImage.com Iverson brought his killer crossover and his bling to the NBA.• One of the most influential African-American athletes in sports history, a true trendsetter who single-handedly pushed the NBA into the hip-hop era (whether the league was ready or not).