As Iverson's free agency draws near, reactions are pouring in from around the web on how, exactly, he'd fit in New York. And Bethlehem Shoals at The Baseline, for one, puts forth a pretty poignant argument in favor of the move:
If you really think it through ... it's pure genius.
We can all agree, at least, that today's Allen Iverson is as much a celebrity, an icon, as basketball player. The same goes for the Knicks. I also suspect that, no matter what side you're on, there's a sense that Iverson's time has passed, and that it's high time he bowed out gracefully and allow history to start passing ultimate judgment. The Knicks, those guys should be all about brand right now. Sorry, but watching the ups and downs of Wilson Chandler, or the revival or Larry Hughes, just brings down the mystique. There is a no more mutually-beneficial marriage possibly today in the whole of team sports than an Iverson-Knicks pairing.
The Knicks wouldn't get any worse, and the team's youngsters are all supplementary, if not role players. Iverson can start and will not embarrass himself or others. It will end Iverson's career, and get the Knicks through the season, not with a fiery final act but—much to the chagrin of those on both sides of the debate—a big party that's akin to a career retrospective. Face it, millions still love AI, and it's been years since he's really been able to just get in front of the cameras and flash his natural charisma without a barrage of criticism following. The New York press, ruthless as it is, has nothing to gain by beating into the ground an "Iverson isn't saving us" agenda. But feature the interview on AI the man, the figure ... those will keep the press room humming all season, provided he trusts them enough to open up.
This is about Iverson as a national attraction, worthy of the biggest stage the league has to offer. Does this make a mockery of AI, or the Knicks? Only if you have something better in mind.
As some of my earlier posts indicate, I'm decidedly less enthusiastic about the thought of a Knicks-Iverson pairing. Mainly, because it's already been painful to watch Iverson toil in Detroit and Memphis, and the prospect of seeing him fail on the grandest stage of all scares me to death.
I get it, okay? Iverson's having the inglorious conclusion to his career that all the skeptics always predicted. It's already shaken my faith in what I thought I believed: the thought of having it happen in New York City, with columnists like Peter Vescey and Frank Isola trumpeting his downfall... That's just too much to bear.
But despite my skepticism of his premise, Shoals' final conclusion is perhaps his best of all. Namely, he suggests that putting Iverson in the media fishbowl that is New York City, full of water that's been muddied with talk radio negativity and shouting opinion columns, could backfire on the Knicks. With 2010 beckoning, the Knicks are on the brink of an elaborate courtship process with some of the game's biggest names. If Iverson gets torn to shreds by an inevitably cynical and negative media, how will that look to someone like Dwyane Wade or Lebron James?
It's an interesting question, anyway, and the entire article's worth your time, so give it a look.