Let me start off by saying that I love Michael Wilbon on TV. I think he is smart, witty, and knows how to handle himself on camera. Besides being on the popular ESPN daily show Pardon the Interruption, Wilbon is an NBA studio analyst. How he got to this level all starts with his column he writes for the Washington Post.
His Post opinion piece this morning was quite the head-scratcher for me. The topic? Disgruntled Memphis Guard Allen Iverson; a fine topic for sure. That is until you consider the crux of the piece: Iverson should come to Cleveland and join Shaq and Lebron.. Wha. Wha. WHAT?
That’s right, an actual credible NBA analyst suggesting that AI, a sure-fire hall of fame player should bring his game and attitude to our fair city.
He needs to be on a team with players he respects enough so that he can be relatively happy to come off the bench because the rewards are so great. Iverson, frankly, needs a team that needs him, and there aren’t so many of them. He needs a team where his ability to create his own shot will help a superstar, where he can also work the end of the game as a closer, a team where his reckless abandon and pedal-to-the-metal aggression in smaller doses will be an asset, not a liability.
I’m talking about the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Those points may be all well and good, if we were discussing the Allen Iverson of say, six years ago. But wasn’t Wilbon watching last season when AI was dealt to Detroit, played zero defense, failed to show up to the team’s facilities at all for treatment when he was injured, and raised a serious stink when he was asked to come off the bench behind All-Star Richard Hamilton?
Oh, maybe Wilbon has been living on another planet this summer when Iverson was an unrestricted free agent and only one team, the lowly Grizzlies, desperate to sell tickets, offered him a contract. There was a reason for that, Mike – Iverson is a locker room cancer who refuses to play by anyone’s rules but his own.
If AI was worth the trouble, wouldn’t a contending team, like the Cavs, Lakers, Spurs, Celtics, etc have brought him in during the summer to give him one last shot at his first ring al a Gary Payton and Karl Malone in LA? Even crazy Stephon Marbury got his shot last season with Boston. Doesn’t that speak volumes? One thing all of the aforementioned four teams have in common – they value defense (though the Spurs don’t seem to be playing any this year), and Iverson doesn’t play any.
I have more to take up with you, Wilbon. Take this comparison:
Iverson joining LeBron would be like Randy Moss leaving the Raiders (which he hated, just like Iverson hates being with the Grizzlies) to hook up with Tom Brady in New England. Even if Iverson was coming off the bench, his energy would light up the Q during home games. It’s been years since Iverson played before that kind of home crowd and had that kind of goodwill extended to him by a metropolis desperate to win. He’d be part of a championship equation.
The difference between Moss and Iverson is that Moss went to New England, which seemed to be his last chance. Moss was also still in the prime of his career and went to a team that is coached by the no-nonsense Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick. Moss knew this was his last shot and if he was a bad egg in New England, his career was over. Iverson would be coming to Cleveland where the coach, Mike Brown, isn’t exactly Phil Jackson or Pat Riley or his beloved Larry Brown.
Wilbon closes his column with the following:
Iverson, now more than ever, wants to win. And there is urgency in Cleveland, where they don’t know how long they’ll have LeBron. The Cavaliers, so far, seem to be in need of a little spice, something that gives the soup a little extra kick. Wouldn’t Iverson, with all he can still do on the court on a nightly basis, be worth the risk for a team that appears to need what he has?
Great. Iverson wants to win. Well how badly does he want to win if after the first game of this season with the only team that would give him a sniff this summer, he immediately went to the media and whined about his role.”I had no problems (with the hamstring),” Iverson said afterward. “I had a problem with my butt from sitting on that bench so long. That’s the only thing I got a problem with.” Then he left the team for “personal reasons” and is said to be contemplating “retirement.” All this guy cares about is himself. Wouldn’t a better route be to prove he is a team guy, come off the bench, be a spark and a good teammate, then work yourself into a trade at the deadline?
Is that a guy you want coming to Cleveland to mix with Lebron James, Shaq, Delonte West, and company? Sounds like a great chemistry experiment Mike! I for one will pass.
Sorry Wilbon, but this column was a very weak, uninformed effort.