The NBA season is not yet two weeks old, and already, the Allen Iverson experiment in Memphis could be termed a failure. The latest development in an already sordid affair has Iverson headed back to his offseason home, Atlanta, after asking to leave the team to deal with a “personal matter.”
The veteran guard asked for and was granted permission to leave the Grizzlies to deal with a personal matter, according to an NBA source.
Iverson, 34, met with Griz owner Michael Heisley Friday night following the team’s 114-98 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. The pair met again this morning, and Iverson was expected to depart for Atlanta this afternoon.
It’s unknown when, or if, Iverson plans on returning to the Grizzlies, but you’d have to think this is a pretty ominous development as far as his tenure in Memphis is concerned. It's a shame, too; AI wasn't exactly setting the world on fire for the Grizzlies, but in just 22 minutes a game, he's shooting 57%, averaging 12 points and 3 assists for the Grizzlies.
And while Iverson's absence doesn't necessarily signal the end of his time with the Griz, it's yet another instance of Iverson separating himself from his teammates and coaches. And with a coaching staff that already has ample reason to resent Iverson--after Michael Heisley ignored basketball advice and signed him despite their objections--it adds fuel to a fire that's been fanned extensively over the past few weeks. Iverson missed the entire preseason after showing up out of shape, publicly criticized his coaches when he finally did play, and now, he's left the team in frustration, after consulting with not the coaching staff or meeting with his teammates, but Memphis owner Michael Heisley.
It's impossible for a player to be successful if he doesn't respect his coach or teammates, and while it's not impossible for both sides to salvage things before this season's overwith, it's certainly been an inauspicious start to Iverson's relationship with the Grizzlies.