Iverson's attitude just doesn't cut it any longer

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

Reportedly, Allen Iverson is contemplating his lot in life and no doubt counting the loot he basically fleeced from the Memphis Grizzlies.

For a guy whose lethal cross-over dribble forced the NBA to review its interpretation of the rule, the Answer finds himself at a career cross-road, not knowing whether to turn left, right, take a step back or just call it quits.

Here's hoping Iverson never steps on to a court again.

Iverson has become a joke, a delusional player who has never taken a hard look in the mirror.

There are those who actually pity this man, a fierce competitor who will one day be enshrined in basketball's Hall of Fame.

A former league MVP, Iverson copped four scoring titles and was named to 10 all-star teams.

Followers of the Raptors will never forget the epic playoff series that pitted Iverson and Vince Carter, a showdown that ended in Carter's missed jumper at the buzzer in Game 7 at Philadelphia's First Union Center.

Iverson would post two 50-point games, a feat only Michael Jordan had produced, but somewhat overlooked was the 16 assists he dished out in the Sixers' one-point win in the decisive game.

Iverson had that ability to defer, but it was as fleeting as this year's Raptors team making a defensive stop.

Iverson's legacy is forever tarnished.

He wanted out of Philly and never did embrace the team concept when Iverson was peddled to Denver.

He then pouted when the Nuggets jettisoned Iverson to Detroit in exchange for Chauncey Billups, who is everything Iverson isn't.

Iverson told reporters in Motown that he'd rather retire than be asked to come off the bench.

And now Iverson is in the exact same spot in a different city that clearly did not understand the risks inherent with a time bomb that is the me-first Iverson.

The Grizzlies have to bear some of the blame.

They took a chance, hoping Iverson's arrival would generate some kind of excitement in a market that is bereft of basketball buzz.

Memphis paid Iverson $3.5 million US.

"I'm not trying to figure out how to contribute to no team," Iverson was quoted as saying prior to a recent loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, a team Iverson battled in the NBA final when the Answer was chosen MVP in 2001.

"I contribute to a team by just playing. That's it. I don't have to figure it out. Obviously, they signed me for a reason. They've been watching me play this game for 13 years and they know what I do on the basketball court. I don't have to figure out how I'm going to play or anything like that. I just go out and play basketball."

Much like his now-famous take on the merits of practising, Iverson reinforced just how little he knows about team play.

No one should dismiss his talents, his drive and toughness, but Iverson has completely lost all sense of reality and credibility.

Iverson could have evolved into a solid rotation piece on a championship-calibre team.

He could have, conceivably, won an elusive championship.

But he had to first admit that he longer was a go-to guy. He had to somehow convince his mind that being a second or third option wasn't a knock.

Iverson, though, won't accept it because he never did. Iverson convinced himself that he was always better than any opponent, coach or teammate.

To make matters worse, Iverson surrounded himself with people who told him what he wanted to hear and not what he needed to hear.

What's sad is that Iverson came across as a fresh-faced kid when Georgetown paid a visit to Maple Leaf Gardens in Iverson's freshman year in college.

After his sophomore season, Iverson turned pro and became the first overall pick in the much-heralded class of 1996, a year that ushered in the likes of Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant.

Iverson is 34, but he's closer to being 4.

INDEFINITE LEAVE

This past weekend, Iverson left the Grizzlies after the team allowed him to take an indefinite leave of absence to deal with a personal matter.

Strip away the b.s., and basically Iverson was told to either get his head on straight or head straight out of town.

Owner Michael Heisley spent two days in California with Iverson.

"I'm not in Allen's head,'' Heisley told The Associated Press. "I don't know what he's thinking."

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FRANK.ZICARELLI@SUNMEDIA.CA\


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