Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

The wrong Answer

Posted by Bill Koch on December 2, 2009

Memo to the Philadelphia 76ers – even Chris Wallace knows that signing Allen Iverson is a bad idea.

Philly offered The Answer a one-year contract yesterday, trying to sell the move as a happy homecoming for one of the franchise’s most popular players of the last three decades. What the 76ers will never publicly admit is that this move, if Iverson accepts, is all about dollars and cents and has nothing to do with sense. It’s going to become The Question that even Wallace, one of the most inept general managers in recent NBA history, already was able to figure out.

Log onto Philly’s website, and the first thing that hits you is how available 76ers tickets are in this depressed economy. Philly isn’t the most economically sound city to begin with, and the club is offering Holiday Packs that include food and beverage credits at the concession stands, free practice jerseys and a Hip-Hop doll (whatever the hell that is). I seriously doubt that the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics or even the Oklahoma City Thunder need to do such things to fatten their respective bottom lines. Iverson’s return would mean an instant spike in jersey sales, some initial interest in his performance on the court and a temporary honeymoon from the bad behavior that ended his first tenure with the team. And as any married couple will tell you, the honeymoon ends a lot sooner than you would like no matter what you try to do to extend it.

Let me remind you how Iverson shot his way out of Philly the first time. I only need one word to do it – practice. That’s what we talkin’ about, man. Practice. Not the game…not the game…not a game that he would allegedly die for. Practice – as in something Iverson didn’t want to do when he was young and energetic. Now he’s old and finished, so done that only the lowly Grizzlies wanted to sign him as a free agent after a disastrous season last year that saw Iverson traded from Denver to Detroit and ended with the Nuggets surging into the playoffs and the Pistons tanking like the auto industry.

Wallace, the current general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies, bought out Iverson’s contract after just three games this season. Iverson wasn’t happy with his role coming off the bench, and he left the team for the always-vague “personal reasons” excuse that players use when they get arrested carrying six kilos of cocaine or try to choke out their coach. He insisted that he would rather retire than become a reserve, a threat he made good on just to break his contract and seal a ticket out of town. The fact that Wallace and the Grizzles were the one team out of 30 who actually wanted Iverson this season didn’t matter.

Need further proof that Wallace is a personnel idiot? Look no further than the hatchet job he did on the Celtics (dealing Joe Johnson for Rodney Rogers and trading for constant AA attendee Vin Baker were among the highlights) or the trade two years ago that sent Pau Gasol from Memphis to the Los Angeles Lakers for a bag of basketballs – a mesh bag, not even a nice leather one. If you’re a rival executive and Wallace’s name comes up on your caller ID, you’d probably stop in the middle of having sex with Marisa Miller on your honeymoon in Cozumel just to ensure your job security for the next 20-30 years. He’s about to make you an offer that you can’t refuse, and his consequences aren’t anywhere near as steep as Don Corleone’s were.

Let’s assume for a minute that this move is designed to help the 76ers on the court – a real stretch, but something we have to entertain just because that’s how the team will spin it. Philly has a decent core of young, athletic players like Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Rodney Carney, Marreese Speights and Louis Williams, guys who are built for speed and who need to play transition basketball to be successful. Their development will be severely stunted by Iverson, for whom the phrases “scoring point guard” and “volume shooter” were made. No team has won on a consistent basis with such a player dominating the ball, and no players have improved around such a player. Iverson makes nobody else better. He’s the kid on the playground who always thinks he’s open and will shoot with no conscience, the kid who gets his ass kicked or who doesn’t get picked to run 5-on-5 unless he’s hitting every shot. By blacktop law, Iverson is about to be lonely or bloody – and the 76ers are right there with him. They’ll learn quickly that second chances often aren’t as good as the first and usually fail to provide the answer to any problems. The Answer – and the answer – will be right in front of their faces.

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2 Responses to “The wrong Answer”

  1. bigblue123 said

    Gotta disagree. The Sixers had no choice both on court and off. The team has become irrelevant in Philly.
    Low Williams and Speights are both hurt and those were both guys that could get their own – a valuable commodity in the world of a 24 second shot.
    The Sixers are 5-13 and fading faster than anyone not named Nets in the NBA.
    Iverson is a career 27ppg scorer shooting 42.5%. That percentage isn’t great but many of those shots have been taken as a shot clock winds down. Many also have been taken with frustrated teammates looking on AGREED. AI has also tallied more than 6 assists per game oddly enough. He’s a first ballot hall of fame guy on the court with diminshing skills but still a force. He makes them better immediately.
    Ticket sales will go up -jersey sales too.
    The latest report is that the deal is a non guaranteed one which gives the organziation an out if Iverson acts up in the locker room or in the streets of Philly.
    I think its a no brainer for a desperate organization.
    This is not the “right” answer ITS the only answer left for an organization that has made a bunch of bad choicesi n recent years. Brand, Dalembert- at the very least they aren’t overpaying for Iverson.

  2. I love the post as usual, but I gotta agree that Philly hasnt loved the 6ers since AI left. Believe it or not, theres plenty of street ballers that love the man like he was Gods gift to the bouncing ball so ticket sales as well as jersey sales will jump.
    Im not saying I would have made the move, but the franchise is sort of optionless at this point. Its either, suck REALLY bad and dont sell tickets, or suck really bad and try to make some money.
    =/

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