12th Man Report: The Allen Iverson saga
Yesterday, point guard Allen Iverson officially retired from the NBA. Iverson spent the majority of his career with the 76ers where he played point guard from 1996 up to 2007. But he had a short stint in Detroit — one that the current batch of Pistons are still seeing the affects of.
He’d been out of the league since 2010, and he finally returned to Philadelphia on Wednesday to officially retire from the game. Iverson said that he’ll be a 76’er “until the day I die.” He definitely won’t be a Piston until that day.
Now if you recall, Iverson was acquired two games into the 2008 season. Joe Dumars — who had done an excellent job up to that point — traded fan-favorite Chauncey Billups and a few other lesser players to the Denver Nuggets for Iverson. Billups wasn’t only a fan favorite, but he was “Mr. Big Shot.” He played an instrumental role on the Pistons’ 2004 NBA Championship, and he could do no wrong in Detroit.
But then just like that, he was gone. Fans everywhere were shocked, baffled, and angry with Dumars. Sure Iverson was a proven point guard, but why fix something that wasn’t broken?
Before Iverson was acquired, the Pistons had made the Eastern Conference finals six-consecutive years. During that stretch they made the NBA finals twice and one of those times won a championship. They were an Eastern Conference powerhouse — Joe D. could do no wrong…
But then it all went wrong. Iverson and co. never seemed to click the entire season, and the Pistons finished below .500 and barely made the playoffs. They were eliminated in the first round — an uncommon event. Iverson wouldn’t return the next year and the Pistons haven’t been back to the playoffs since.
Iverson’s career is summarized by his 11 all-star selections, his 26.6 points per game average, and even his 2001 MVP award. He had a very successful NBA career — even successful enough to finish 6th all time on the scoring list. Unfortunately, his time in Detroit was nothing near that. He was a huge flop.
It’s ironic that Iverson officially is retiring this year while Billups has returned to Detroit.
Now Iverson’s lack of success in Detroit could’ve been a result of many different things. I don’t know if he’s necessarily the one to blame. But I do know that since his arrival to Detroit, the Pistons have been terrible and it’s tough not to at least partially blame him (or his presence).
Though Iverson will remain a legend amongst basketball fans everywhere, the legacy he left in Detroit is far from legend status: it’s flop status. Ever since he stepped foot in Detroit, the Pistons have been on a long road from relevance to irrelevance.