Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Last stop Turkey; Iverson and Istanbul

By John McMullen

Philadelphia - When I think back to the 2000-01 NBA Finals, I remember a defiant Allen Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue after burying a jumper from deep in the right corner during a memorable 48-point performance as the Philadelphia 76ers stunned the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the series.

Injuries to Eric Snow, Aaron McKie and George Lynch, along with the superior talent of a Lakers team led by Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant eventually won out rather easily, but Iverson's big shot was the one indelible moment I took from that set.

It got me thinking that A.I. was the greatest small man in the history of the game, a thesis I have not wavered on despite Iverson's infamous off-the-court problems that have virtually blackballed him from the NBA.

Unable to mature or rein in an enormous ego, Iverson burned bridges in Denver, Memphis and Philadelphia over the past two years and is now persona non grata among the league's general managers, a stunning development considering his talent level and the fact most personnel people would steal from their own mothers if it gave them a better opportunity to win.

Consider the Grizzlies have stood behind daily double-double threat Zach Randolph this offseason despite the fact that a trusted police informant identified the power forward as a 'major' marijuana supplier in Indianapolis.
The Pacers have jumped on their swords for rookie guard Lance Stephenson despite the fact he allegedly pushed his 19-year-old girlfriend down a flight of stairs.

And you can bet a dozen teams would ink Gilbert Arenas if the Wizards decide to move on despite the fact that the high-scoring guard thinks it's OK to pull a gun on a teammate in the locker room.

Iverson has never been formally accused of those types of things although to be fair, there are plenty of rumors floating around that have certainly shaped the view of the people shunning him.

And since morality rarely enters the equation in professional sports, Iverson's reputation is at rock-bottom as reports persist that the former MVP will take his sideshow overseas with the intent on proving himself to the very people that no longer want him.

The coach of the Turkish basketball team Besiktas Cola Turka, Burak Biyiktay, has confirmed that the Istanbul-based club has offered a contract to the 11- time All-Star and Gary Moore, Iverson's personal manager, claims there is strong interest from his client to work out a one-year deal.

Of course Moore and Iverson are hedging, secretly hoping a pending trip to Turkey will spur the interest of an NBA team and save the mercurial guard from a possible Midnight Express scenario.

No, Iverson isn't dumb enough to tape hashish to his body and end up in a Turkish prison like Billy Hayes, but it's hard to imagine him flourishing either.

There will be no Las Vegas-style casinos handing out unlimited markers and I'm not sure that the strip club scene in Istanbul features enough Grey Goose. I'm also quite confident Jermaine Dupri isn't going to be accompanying A.I. to the VIP room, and it's hard to imagine the $2 million Besiktas is offering would be enough to satiate Iverson's posse, Cru-Thik.

He will get to play basketball, however, and just maybe the game can save Iverson from himself.

No comments: