After being out for 16 games with a back injury, Allen Iverson is coming off the bench for the Pistons, playing limited minutes and getting limited touches.
And he would rather not play than keep playing off the bench.
"I'd rather retire before I do this again," Iverson said. "I can't be effective playing this way. I'm not used to it. It's tough for me both mentally and physically. If I'm able to go out there, I should be able to get it done and I can't right now. It's my fault. I have to be able to overcome the adversity and do what I have to do. I just have to find a way to get it done. Not being 100 percent makes it harder and you can see that I'm not 100 percent."
Iverson’s real problem is that even at 100% he is not the player he used to be, and his style of play is not what most coaches or teams want. Denver coach George Karl said after Iverson left that the reason the team was playing better was they were not wasting 10 to 15 possessions a game with bad decisions and bad shots. Karl didn’t mention Iverson by name, he didn’t have to, but there are plenty of coaches out there that feel the same way.
Sadly, the end is coming for Iverson, a 13-season NBA veteran. A guy who played all out and got the most out his talent, but whose talent has faded a little with age. His shooting percentage has dropped to the lowest level in five years, even though he is being asked to do less in Detroit. His points per game are at the lowest level of his career, and his assists are down almost to that level.
You don’t need the stats, just watching him you can tell this is no longer the Iverson that put the 2000-01 Sixers on his back and carried them to the NBA Finals. AI has always been a scorer but not a playmaker, a shoot-first point guard that didn’t really make his team better. He was and is inefficient, something he once could sort of overcome but no longer can. Look at the improvement in Denver when they went from Iverson handling the ball to Chauncey Billups — the entire team got better.
Iverson is an unrestricted free agent this summer. However, now that he can’t carry the load, teams are not going to be willing to bring in Iverson unless he can take on a lesser role. Apparently, he is not willing to do that.
Which means he may have some big choices ahead of him this summer.