Phil Jasner: Iverson wants back in to NBA, but does anyone want him?

Allen Iverson was not at his best playing for Sixers last season.
Allen Iverson was not at his best playing for Sixers last season.
Posted: July 07, 2010

ALLEN IVERSON wants to get back in the NBA.

He tweeted so.

But are there NBA teams who want Iverson? Or did they all see the same games we did last season?

Yes, he joined the 76ers in midstream. Yes, it already was a confusing, disappointing, frustrating situation. Yes, he was a good influence on the younger players and helped Samuel Dalembert get more involved. Yes, he averaged 13.9 points and 4.1 assists.

But it seemed like he had his knee drained every other day.

And he no longer had that killer first step, that explosiveness that always allowed him to get into the lane to score, draw a foul or somehow get the ball to an open teammate. Unlike other small guards who prepared for the later years of their careers by developing other skills, Iverson never refined his jump shot or his abilities at the point. When the truth hit last season, he was a shell of what he once was.

Amid all of that, he also explained that his daughter Messiah was battling an illness that had not been identified. He took a leave of absence to help care for her. Shortly afterward, he left his home in Atlanta to appear at an event in Charlotte, where he handed out college scholarships to worthy high school students. Of course, there also were posters around town trumpeting his appearance at a club with a rapper.

And then came the news that his wife Tawanna was divorcing him after 8 1/2 years of marriage.

I truly hope Iverson's daughter has regained her health. I hope Iverson can resolve his personal issues and move on with his life. I hope his knee is in better shape than it was. But he has bounced from the Sixers to Denver to Detroit to (ever so briefly) Memphis to the Sixers to unrestricted free agency.

No basketball player ever filled the seats here the way he did. He and coach Larry Brown took the Sixers to the Finals in 2000-01, one of the wildest rides this city has seen. He won four scoring titles and an MVP. He gave the fans enough highlights to last two lifetimes. But that's not who he was last season, and all these years later, I don't believe he can ever be anything close to that player again. That doesn't make him a lot different from any other aging performer; someday, it will happen to Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. No one is immune.

Listen, I enjoyed the Iverson era as much as anyone. I dealt with the controversies and the lowlights, as well as the spectacular performances. I have enormous respect for the group who surrounded him in '00-01 - Eric Snow, Aaron McKie, George Lynch, Tyrone Hill, Theo Ratliff, Dikembe Mutombo, Kevin Ollie, all of them - they did the dirty work and gave Iverson clearance to be A.I., to create a legend.

I know there were, and always will be, Iverson haters. All I know is, it was a hell of a show.

Right now, he's out and wants back in, but I can't get last season's images out of my mind.

I never like to see a great star limp away.

Maybe some team will give him one last shot. I thought that's what the Sixers did last season.

He wants to get back in, but I'm not sure there's a team ready to open the door.

I don't tweet, so I can't tell him directly, but I hope that someday, somewhere out there, there's a player who can bring to the arena what he once did. *

Send e-mail to jasnerp@phillynews.com.

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