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November 26, 2009

A.I. Retired? Stay tuned

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 1:07 pm

As my family scurries around getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner, I sat down to make some tweaks to an Allen Iverson piece that I penned about two weeks ago. As the Iverson saga dragged, my piece lay dormant, waiting for an ending. Apparently, it’s still waiting.

We’ve been waiting for an outcome to the Iverson business for what seems like a couple of months. Yesterday, we thought we had it, though even that apparent bit of closure was accompanied by a measure of uncertainty.

After 14 years at the eye of the NBA storm, Iverson chose to declare his intention to walk away through a curiously-submitted statement that appeared on the personal Web site of Stephen A. Smith, whom Iverson presumably knows well from his days in Philadelphia. There was no audio or video to go with the announcement. There was no third-party verification that I was able to find. All we had is a Web site bearing Stephen A. Smith’s name which claimed to have an authentic statement obtained from Iverson and we were supposed to take that at face value.

I guess it’s the newspaperman in me, but those that reported this story as a done deal were jumping the gun. Every major media outlet reported Iverson’s “retirement”, some more emphatically than others. For me, the thing didn’t pass the sniff test. Unverified stories can unravel faster than the Tasmanian Devil on amphetamines. Sure enough, Smith himself undercut the story in his piece at FoxSports. This backtracking happened one day after Iverson sent out a statement to Smith, and only Smith? Whatever.

We do have this quote from Iverson’s personal manager in Marc Spears’ piece at Yahoo:

“”Wonderful career. Right thing to do for his family,” Iverson’s manager, Gary Moore told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s no secret that Allen has been unfairly treated through all this. The fact is his family needs him more.”

So I can buy the fact that Iverson sent out a statement saying he’s retired. I just don’t believe him. In effect, nothing has changed with Iverson’s situation and I’m not taking this story seriously until we get something on the record from Iverson himself. (A statement made to the general media and not just one pal). I think Iverson clearly still wants to play. He’s still a free agent. He will only play under a very narrow set of circumstances. Until he changes his mindset and accepts the fact that he can only continue his career in a reduced role, no sane team will sign him. This is what we call an impasse and Iverson’s “retirement” doesn’t clear up anything.

Has Iverson retired? I don’t know, but I suspect not. I think more likely is that he’s “retired” in the sense that he’s not playing in the NBA and seemingly no team wants him. That’s a kind of retirement, I guess. Is that closure? Is that the ending I’ve been waiting for?

Not really. There is more to come on this story. There has to be. Forces of nature like Allen Iverson just don’t go away this quietly.

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