• One of the most fascinating, complex athletes of my lifetime: a legendary partier and devoted family man; a loyal teammate who shoots too much; a featherweight who carries himself like a heavyweight; an intimidating competitor who's always the smallest guy on the court; an ex-con with a shady entourage who also happens to be one of the most intuitive, self-aware, articulate superstars in any sport. If I could pick any current athlete to spend a week with for a magazine feature, I would pick Allen Iverson. This is an absolutely fascinating guy, in every respect.
And if you can't get excited to follow him on your favorite team, seriously, stop following sports right now. You'll get 2-3 memorable seasons from him (maybe more). You'll have a chance to beat anyone on any given night. He's worth the risk as long as your team doesn't mortgage its entire future for him, which shouldn't be considered because of his onerous contract ($40 million owed in the two seasons after this one), the number of miles on his odomoter (significant) and his value dipping from a curious lack of interest from most teams, which would be more curious if 75-80 percent of those teams weren't poorly run.
Still not sold? Remember four points over everything else:
1. Philly isn't dealing Iverson because he's washed up. They're dealing him because Billy King did a preposterously bad job building this team and antagonized his only real asset in the process. Big difference. King even choked last summer when he could have landed Carlos Boozer and Boston's No. 7 pick for Iverson, choosing instead to bring the Answer back for another, inevitably frustrating season (and killing much of his trade value in the process). Not only should Sixers season-ticket holders be outraged, they should figure out a way to sue this team for negligence. Iverson should have retired as a Sixer; it's not happening because King stinks at his job. These are the facts.
2. There's an eerie precedent here: Charles Barkley's situation deteriorated in the same city for the same reasons (he was too much of a handful, he was tired of losing, they had saddled him with too many below-average supporting cast members, their GM sucked just as much). Just like Barkley in '92, he's one of those overlooked veteran stars who finishes every All-Star Game, commands respect from his peers and watched his value artificially decline because he spent too many seasons on too many bad teams. Just like Barkley, Iverson has something significant left in the tank and desperately needs a change of scenery. And just like Barkley, he's about to become the dollar in the proverbial "three quarters for a dollar" trade ... which never works when you're the team getting the three quarters.
3. Trades always rejuvenate great players, especially if they left their old team under bad terms. Just in the past few years, we saw this happen with Shaq in Miami, Nash in Phoenix and Kidd in Jersey. Give an elite player something to prove and he usually ends up proving it. Barkley remains the most famous example because he celebrated the trade by becoming the dominant non-MJ player on the first Dream Team, then ripping through the league in Phoenix, winning an MVP and nearly winning a title. Could this happen with Iverson? Absolutely. He's that good.