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Straight Outta Vancouver statistically assesses if A.I. should start or come off the bench, sets some expectations and comes to this conclusion:
So from a statistical standpoint it certainly looks like Allen Iverson really needs to either be short-minute starting for about 30 minutes a game, or needs to come off the bench while playing the end of the 4th quarter with the starters. Again Jason Terry is the best model for Iverson, who needs to realize that--at 34 years old--a shot at the 6th man of the year might help his team more than trying to win the MVP.
More from the Iverson press conference, this time via the Memphis Flyer:
The Grizzlies introduced Allen Iverson at a press conference in the lobby of FedExForum before a large group of local media, civic dignitaries, and excited fans. Even before he took the stage, Iverson proved a uniting force, as Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowry and former mayor Willie Herenton shook hands before taking seats only a few feet apart.
Asked what his expectations were, Iverson spoke his first words as a Griz player: "To win. When you talk about the Memphis Grizzlies, a lot of people say just getting to the playoffs is enough. My goals are a lot different."
Iverson, who touchingly seemed to tear up midway through the press conference, said all the right things: "I look at the roster and see the young talent that we have and I know we can be a good team."
We'll have more as the news and analysis continues to emerge, but as far as I'm concerned, this makes it all complete:
The Memphis held a press conference this morning to introduce Allen Iverson, and AI, who's entering his 16th NBA season, explained that this season has taken a whole new significance for him.
From the Kansas City Star:
"This year for me, it's personal. It's going to be like my rookie season all over again," said Iverson. "It hurts. I read the papers. I listen to some of the things people say...about my struggles last season, saying I lost a step. They (are) trying to put me in a rocking chair already."
More is sure to emerge, so stay tuned for additional remarks and analysis.
Now that the news is official, a few Memphis outlets have had the chance to react. Namely, SBN's Grizzlies blog and its phenomenally named djturtleface. What do Jane Fonda and Allen Iverson have in common? Neither one can stomach authority.
Some other turtleface musings:
And if A.I. provides an opportunity for the Grizzlies to reclaim some lost respect as an organization, the Grizzlies are Iverson's final prayer to the basketball gods, who we affectionatly know as Stern and ESPN. If Iverson is to have a place in the league in the coming years it won't be as an injection of instant offense off the bench, his skills will begin fading too fast for that to be a sustainable role. His role will be as the lovable, maverick teacher. You had them before, the teacher who says he doesn't believe in grades. He or she curses in class. They wave shiny, often pointy objects and shout. They pretend like 'The Man' hates them, but secretly 'The Man' loves them because they probably taught you twice as much as all the other teachers in the school combined. Everyone loves them. And Iverson can be one of them, he has the passion and the eye for the job, which isn't a common trait.
Which brings me to my final point. Please, please don't ever tell me that Allen Iverson is going to be a bad influence on O.J. Mayo or Mike Conley. I'm a young adult. You were young adults. It's borderline offensive to act like O.J. Mayo is an impressionable youth. First of all, young adults don't particularly like listening to anyone. Second, they're not children that just aimlessly follow every example before them. Iverson will teach Mayo what Mayo wants to learn: opponent tendencies, new moves, how to draw fouls. If O.J. Mayo wants to learn how to skip practice, yeah, Iverson can teach him that too, but chances are he would have found out on his own if the desire was in place.
There is really no right way to assess the Grizzlies taking Allen Iverson, because it damn-near had to happen. You can call it good or bad. Maybe, if you believe in determinism, you can call it fate. I called it necessity. But chances are Allen Iverson is going to call it home. And I couldn't think of any other term that would make me more confident that things are going to work out.
Meanwhile, traditional media had its say, as well, albeit in shorter paragraphs.
The jokes were flying all over the country yesterday. None of the national experts seem to think much of the Grizzlies' latest move.
Of course, none of the national experts have had to sit through 41 home Grizzlies games a year.
This is a city that has never been all that picky when it comes to its diversions, after all. See Saturday morning wrestling. See Graceland. See Tyson-Lewis or, better yet, Tyson-Etienne.
Absolutely, it would have been nice to get an early Tyson fight. But a star like Tyson wouldn't play this city at the height of his career. So Memphis got him at the end.
And you know what?
People loved him. They loved the whole ridiculous act.
Indeed, that Tyson analogy seems to be a microcosm of everyone's attitude in Memphis: they don't love him, necessarily, but there's also a collective realization that this is the way it had to be for both sides. Is conflating Iverson with Tyson fair? I don't think so, but it's on par with the way he's been portrayed in the media this summer and in the past, so I don't doubt that most of Memphis thinks of him in those terms. Another troublemaker.
And either way, turtleface's point is well taken: assessing this move only gets you so far. Criticize the basketball sensibilities if you must, but really, it had to happen for both sides. Call it fate, call it necessity, call it bad management--whatever the case, Allen Iverson is in Memphis, and this is how it was always going to end.
According to ESPN's Mark Stein, the Memphis Grizzlies have called a press conference for tomorrow at 11 am.
Via Twitter, he said the following:
Grizzlies just announced that a "major announcement" tomorrow at 11 local time is open to the public at FedEx Forum ... So we get to see right away what kind of crowd Iverson can draw . . . although an 11 AM gathering isn't exactly the same as a 7 PM tipoff
Indeed, it figures to be one of the bigger press conferences in the history of the Grizzlies franchise. And in addition to the circus atmosphere, I'm sure we can look forward to plenty of good quotes from Iverson, as his critics have been louder than ever all summer, and to this point, he's been remained relatively mum. Tomorrow, I'd imagine that will change.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix checks in to echo the refrain in demonstrative fashion:
If you are a Grizzlies fan, well, you are looking for the nearest blunt instrument to cave your own head in.
Iverson's signing with Memphis is one of the most jaw-dropping moves in recent NBA history. Not because Iverson isn't still a viable player; even in last season's debacle in Detroit, Iverson still managed to score 17.5 points per game. But because Iverson is the last -- repeat, the last -- thing the rebuilding Grizzlies need right now. [...]
I've been told by multiple sources that the interest in Iverson came from the owners box. That makes sense. Because this is not a basketball move, it's a financial one. As basketball moves go, this one is the worst.
Building on that analysis, Iverson also won't play defense this year. He'll just stay on the offensive side of the court for the entirety of the game. And, you didn't hear it from me, but he doesn't necessarily feel comfortable sharing a locker room with Rudy Gay.
Jokes aside, though, the incredulous reactions around the league are fair; the Grizzlies are taking a chance, here, in hoping that Iverson can help fill the stands while also furthering the development of their burgeoning young core. Inevitably, there would be backlash. But the Grizzlies don't stand to lose that much if this experiment fails. Their franchise is already in dire straits, and rumors abound that Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley would be open to moving them elsewhere down the line. Can it get that much worse?
More to the point: to suggest that this move is somehow as jaw-dropping as some of the other moves Memphis has made over the past five years... Now that's just being sensational.
ESPN's True Hoop has a characteristically comprehensive look at the Iverson signing, and among other salient points, they offer the following answers regarding some of the skepticism I mentioned earlier. Namely, are the Grizzlies really "committed to winning" if they're adding players like Iverson and Zach Randolph?
True Hoop explains the logic underpinning the question:
Why don't young teams bring in veterans? General managers and others have shared wisdom:
* The free agents who are available to rebuilding teams are generally second-tier players (the best ones get to play for elite squads). Many have baggage on or off the court. With so much riding on the development of young, often impressionable players, there is a school of thought that it's better not to risk introducing the bad apple that spoils the whole bunch.
* They're too old! If your team is aiming to start making noise in the playoffs in, let's say, three years, what's going to happen to older veterans who ought to be in serious decline by then? Best case, the veterans will be key players right now. If they are, then down the road you'll have major holes to fill. Or perhaps they won't be key players immediately ... and what's the point?
* To developing players, minutes and touches are like oxygen. Any possession dominated by Randolph or Iverson is a play where Gay, Mayo, Conley or Gasol miss an opportunity to improve. Meanwhile, Randolph, Gay, Mayo and Iverson were all, last season, in the NBA's top 75 in using possessions. To be wanting the ball more is to be human. To be wanting the ball more, while being really bad, is often to breed dissent -- players begin believing the team would win more if only he could shoot more, and quickly you're building the opposite of a winning culture.
"Minutes and touches are like oxygen" ... That may be a bit dramatic, but yeah, there's some vague truth to the notion. Bill Simmons tackled the same subject last November with his hackneyed Miley Cyrus metaphor--to become successful in the NBA, you have to be given ample opportunity to fail. It's true.
But there's more to it, I think, than just getting playing time. Playing a lot of minutes is helpful, but only insofar as those are meaningful minutes. If you're playing in front of 8,000 fans on an 18-win team, the sense of urgency that's reserved for big time NBA basketball is gone. At that point, you're sort of just going through the motions, playing it out until the lottery.
Remember those early 00s Chicago Bulls teams? They were bad, sure, but oozing with potential all over the floor--guess how many of those players turned into superstars? Tyson Chandler (sort of) came closest (for New Orleans), and Kirk Hinrich became famous in a "Look at that semi-competent white guy!" sort of way. Otherwise, Eddy Curry, Marcus Fizer, and Jamal Crawford all faded into NBA ephemera. And that's what happens.
The window to learn how to win meaningful basketball games only lasts so long. After that, you're probably a Golden State Warrior.
And that's why adding Allen Iverson will aid in the development of the Memphis youngsters. Suddenly, the Grizzlies are relevant, and while they are still longshots for the playoffs, the franchise at least has a heartbeat now. Their fans will care about the games again; their opponents, too, will pay attention. Instead of a meaningless 20-win season, Memphis is probably looking at 30-35 wins, and a lot of competitive games.
Suddenly, it'll matter when Rudy Gay takes 25 shots and makes 6 of 'em--Iverson will chew his ass out. And OJ Mayo, who's deceptively got worlds of potential, will learn how to be a combo guard playing alongside the man who literally created the position. Throw in Hasheem the Dream and Marc Gasol, and Memphis actually has a fairly compelling core for the future.
This year, like breathing a new kind of oxygen, they'll learn what it feels like to play meaningful NBA basketball.
Because Iverson and Scoop Jackson are the NBA's answer to Favre and Peter King, we would be remiss not to welcome Fake Scoop Jackson to say a few words:
Ladies and gentleman, brothers and sisters, boys and girls, we're talking about practice. And games. And jerseys. Puttin on that fresh authentic before every game. Kicks to match. Swagger just suffocating fools. Damn.
The story here is about a young man with grown talent. The young man pisses people off, but he doesn't care. Took the world by storm; 5'11 and 165, he looked like a boy, made men look helpless. Brushin' off the haters. Damn. Remember the days?
The young man gets older, he gets bolder. He was cut from a different kente cloth. We knew that all along. Soon, he's an empire. Owns it all now. Commercials, MVP trophies, and the city of the brotherly love that always finds a way to hate. They love the young man, though. His name is Allen, but streets is calling, and all they say is two letters.
Bubba Chuck. Cru Thik. Entourage before HBO made it corny. Hip Hop. Killin 'em softly. Sentence fragments for emphasis. Homeboy from Virginia Beach taking over the world. Black people. Haters take a number; they hated Christ, too.
The Finals. Steppin over Tyronn Lue. Cold. Some say pity the fool, but there's no mercy in war. Basketball as metaphor for The Struggle. Nobody gets it, but we understand. They watch him, but we See him. Yessir.
That was then. Good Times. Not getting hassled, not getting hustled. Keepin your head above water, makin a wave when you can. Scratchin' and survivin. Good Times.
But the show got cancelled in Philly. Denver and Detroit, too. Hip Hop is dead. Ain't no love in the heart of the city. Haters is back now, and louder than ever.
So why not take it back to where it all started? Memphis. Before Elvis sold it, the place had Soul. Bringin it back to the birthplace: Barbecue, Blues, and Bubba Chuck.
Haters gon' hate, but the city got love for him. The streets got love for him. He's Ours. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
And God chose Memphis. Don't call it Graceland for nothin'...
(Scoop Jackson's actual reaction: "Things Done Changed")
Since someone gave me some grief earlier for my purple-y proclamation that "Iverson is a warrior," I had to include this commercial:
Sports cliches aside, Allen Iverson is a tough son-of-a-bitch. Or, at the very least, the Reebok Corporation agrees with me.
Earlier this morning, Iverson tweeted that "God Chose Memphis as the place that I will continue my career." Well, fair enough. (He also misspelled his new owner's name; maybe that tweet wasn't ghostwritten.)
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojarnowski had a terrific response:
From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
Free-agent guard Allen Iverson informed the Grizzlies this morning that he will accept a one-year offer to bring his explosive scoring to FedExForum this season, according to an NBA source.
Iverson’s decision came following a Monday night meeting in Atlanta with Griz owner Michael Heisley, general manager Chris Wallace and head coach Lionel Hollins. Iverson, a 34-year-old, 13-year veteran, will play for a contract that pays $3.5 million (what the Griz have left under the salary cap) and the deal will be loaded with incentives.
This deal comes at the end of a summer which has seen Iverson flirting with a number of teams, but perhaps more remarkably, jilted by many others. After a long and distinguished career--with some definite bumps in the road along the way--Allen Iverson was a man that nobody wanted. That he's signed with the Grizzlies only confirms as much: the NBA's version of Siberia (sorry, Rudy and OJ) is the only place that welcomed him.
As mentioned in an earlier update, I believe Allen Iverson's twitter account is ghostwritten, so take his supposed enthusiasm with a grain of salt. Still, "Allen" made the following remarks on Memphis:
I feel that they are committed to developing a winner and I know that I can help them to accomplish that. I feel that I can trust them.
But are they really? Signing Allen Iverson seems like a transparent ploy to sell tickets, a desperate move by a downtrodden organization in a down economy. Whether that retards the development of rising stars like Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo, and (so far wildly disappointing) Mike Conley remains to be seen. Still, you'd think if the Grizzlies were truly trying to build a winner, adding players like Iverson and Zach Randolph wouldn't be the preferred course.
One counterpoint, though: while many would question the wisdom of bringing on someone like Allen Iverson--and lord knows Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace deserves plenty of questioning for just about everything he does--this could end up as a major coup for Memphis. Iverson has seen his legacy decay over the past few years, and I have a feeling he's due for a sort of renaissance this season. Does that mean the Grizzlies will make the playoffs? Doubtful.
But for all the skepticism that's sure to emerge--and all of Iverson's critics from over the years that are eager to proclaim this a definitive referendum on his value to a team--Iverson is still a warrior on the basketball court, and a whirling dervish of a guard that's nearly impossible to stop when he's "on". Even if he takes some of their minutes, is that someone who might be able to teach a thing or two to the Memphis young'ns?
I say yes. And I'm tellin ya, just when everyone was ready to put Iverson out to pasture, he could surprise some people in Memphis this year.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports:
Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley met with Allen Iverson Monday night in Atlanta where the sides came away with a better understanding of what the other expects yet no deal was finalized.
But the frank, comfortable and friendly meeting went so well that Iverson could agree to a deal as soon as Tuesday, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
Heisley, general manager Chris Wallace and head coach Lionel Hollins spent more than two hours with Iverson. Most of their conversations were about the Grizzlies’ philosophy and how they intend to use Iverson.
There were no specific contract talks although Memphis wants Iverson on a one-year deal that pays $3.5 million.
Iverson may be hoping that he'll get an eleventh hour offer from one of his preferred destinations - the Bobcats, Heat, or Clippers - but at this point it seems like the Grizzlies are the only game in town. And despite their apparent concerns about Iverson accepting a role coming off the bench, the star-hungry Grizzlies must be salivating at the thought of Iverson suiting up for them (and selling tickets). This deal makes too much sense for both sides not to happen (now watch it not happen).
Okay, so the headline is a bit misleading. Iverson's headed to Poland, yes, but to play in a Reebok sponsored shootout for Eurobasket. This according to the Polish news outlet, Sports.pl, whose name just kills me. Essentially, that would be like if we had a "sports.com," which (oh look!) we do. It's a gambling site, proving what we already know: Americans are greedy, depraved people. Integrity schmintegrity.
Nevertheless, "Eurobasket 2009. Pluta kontra Iverson!"
If you're looking for news in this nonsense, consider this: if talks with Memphis don't progress quickly, Iverson will be on European soil on September 19th, unsigned, and playing basketball in front of scores of European executives. Allen will be feeling unloved and European owners will be getting all wide-eyed over the prospect of adding an NBA player that still has one of the 3 or 4 biggest names in basketball. You don't think that'll generate some mutual nterest?
In other news, if Allen Iverson ends playing in Europe, someone must develop a reality show around the experience.
If you've been following Allen Iverson on Twitter this summer, you may be a bit confused. For one, there have been instances where he's talked in the third person ("Allen is having his celebrity classic in Virginia this year..."), lots of exclamation points, and tweets like this one, which disgrace the rebellious ethos that he's crafted so masterfully over his 15-year NBA career:
All of which is to say I have a deep suspicion that his Twitter profile is at least partially ghostwritten by one of his agents.
I refuse to believe that Allen Iverson talks with exclamation points. He's an icon of the hip-hop generation; emoting anything other than anger, laughter, or indifference is considered poor form. Clearly, someone else is pulling the strings. And perhaps that explains some of the false optimism that we've seen on his account this summer. Such as this post from August 19th:
My people just informed me that we are getting close to a deal. I asked them to call me the when its done. I am so ready to know!
That was more than two weeks ago, so when "Iverson" broke the news last night that he'd be meeting with Memphis owner Michael Heisley, I was understandably skeptical. But alas, it seems there might actually be some fire to go along with this smoke. ESPN's Mark Stein confirmed with Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley that he will be meeting Iverson later today in Hotlanta.
Yet Heisley cautioned that an agreement in principle with Iverson has not yet been reached, saying: "[The meeting] does not mean it's a done deal. He wants to meet and have some questions answered and we want to meet."
Monday's scheduled sitdown would be the first face-to-face contact between Iverson and Grizzlies officials since the process began, with Memphis negotiating to this point primarily with Leon Rose, Iverson's agent.
That Iverson's remained on the market this long certainly speaks to the growing cynicism around the league regarding his ability. Even when he was at his best, the logic goes, he still excelled at the expense of his teammates. Now that he's declining, what's the point of adding someone that'll detract from the development of teammates, especially after he proved in Detroit he won't accept a reduced role?
Well, if you're Memphis: tickets. Interest in the Grizzlies has been waning over the past two years, and in addition to forming a fearsome nightlife duo with recent Grizzlies addition Zach Randolph, Iverson would also be surefire way to pique interest among the local fanbase. If today's meeting goes well, even if Memphis represents the ultimate relegation for a once-proud superstar, expect to see some enthusiastic tweets in the future:
"Memphis here I come! Can't wait to play with OJ, and Rudy, and Marc Gasol! Michael Heisley is a Great owner and Memphis is a Great city!
I am looking forward to meeting the owner of the Memphis Grizzlies on tomorrow, along with his staff. I want to help them develop a winner.
Good luck building a winner in Memphis. But seriously, this is a good move for both sides. Iverson wants to stay in the NBA (despite potential big money offers in Europe) and the Grizzles need the shot of fan excitement Iverson will provide, even as a reserve. According to the Detroit Free-Press, the Grizzles are expected to offer a one-year deal in the neighborhood of $3.5 million.
It's difficult to believe that Iverson isn't worth that much to a contending team looking for a scoring sixth man, a la Ben Gordon, but these are the new economics of a league where the salary cap is expected to shrink again next year. And after Iverson chafed under a similar role in Detroit last season, perhaps teams are more worried about team chemistry than about the potential benefit of adding a scoring dynamo like Iverson off the bench. For a team as desperate as the Grizzlies, however, inking Iverson to such a modest deal would be a coup.
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