And now? After his disastrous stints in Denver and Detroit, how do we feel about him now? Because every time Nuggets point guard
Think about it. Has the perceived value of any star ever plummeted more in such a short time? It isn't merely that Iverson's ability has declined with age; at 33, and after 13 years of fearless play, that is to be expected. Rather, it's tempting now to reevaluate his entire career. After all, each team he's left has immediately become better without him. He departed the Sixers after disparaging their "losing style," yet Philly made the playoffs the following two seasons with much the same roster. Seven months after he exited Denver, the Nuggets are a conference finalist for the first time in 24 years. And his new team, the Pistons, went from winning 59 games without him the year before to winning 39 with him, then finished the season in disarray.
Analogies are hard to come by. Sure,
Maybe that 76ers run to the Finals in 2001 was more the masterwork of
As it happens, Iverson's contract is up, and let's just say that teams aren't exactly saving up for the big Summer of AI free-agent run. The Pistons have indicated they won't re-sign him, and it's hard to imagine which team will. He says he doesn't want to come off the bench, refuses to transition into a complementary role on a contender -- the way scorers such as
Ouch. Two years ago, if you'd asked me who would end up having the better career, Billups or Iverson, there's no question I would have chosen AI. But two years from now? The way it's going, it could well be the 32-year-old Billups, who has led seven straight teams to the conference finals under four different coaches and won the title in 2004. Even those who loved Iverson most now question the Answer. When
Which is to say that people appear to know who Allen Iverson is. What's changing, with every Nuggets win, is who he was.