during his last tenure in the NBA
It doesn’t matter if it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Minnesota Timberwolves – or any of the NBA’s other basement dwellers. Allen Iverson will take your call. If you’re an NBA team and you have a spot open on your roster, Iverson is willing to talk.
“I’ll play for anybody,” Iverson told Yahoo! Sports.
A 10-time All-Star and former MVP, Iverson still wants back in the league even though he’s 36 and played only in Turkey last season. He’s one of the game’s greatest scorers, but his history of off-the-court drama and issues with coaches tainted his career, even in his last few seasons in the NBA. He complained about his role with the Detroit Pistons and griped about coming off the bench with the Memphis Grizzlies. Iverson took a leave of absence after playing three games with the Grizzlies two seasons ago and was eventually waived. That led him to announce his retirement – but a couple weeks later he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Iverson ended up leaving the Sixers to spend time with his ill daughter, and he was eventually waived. He now says he was too distracted by his daughter’s health issues and divorce proceedings with his wife to stay focused in his last two NBA seasons.
“That wasn’t me at all,” Iverson said. “Obviously, I was dealing with the situation with my daughter and going through a divorce, and I wasn’t there mentally. In my career those last couple years were so hard for me because I wasn’t there. Mentally, I wasn’t there.
“During those 48 minutes on the basketball court, all I [ever] cared about was that time right there. Nothing else distracted me. But at times, I felt myself standing on the court just thinking about my daughter, thinking about the situation with me and my wife. I wasn’t giving [the teams] everything I had mentally.”
So what’s the difference now?
“Everything is fine,” Iverson said. [My wife and I] are still going through the process. But it’s not like it was. … I just felt like the right thing – even if it’s not me and her [together] – we got to be friends and cool with each other because we got five kids together. That was the most difficult part. And then once I got to there, as far as that situation, then everything was basically cool. My kids are healthy. I don’t have anything to worry about but basketball.”
Multiple reports within the past couple years said Iverson has been troubled by financial, alcohol and gambling issues. He admitted there was some truth to his personal problems but declined to go into detail, saying it “would take all day” to explain what wasn’t true.
“There are going to be people out there that say things,” Iverson said. “But it’s the same thing I teach my kids: ‘If it’s not true, why do you worry about it?’ It bothers me at times because I do have a heart, and my kids do have to hear some of those things. But that’s the only time it bothers me. I’m used to people saying a bunch of things about me that are not true.”
After no NBA team showed interest in signing him last season, Iverson agreed to a two-year, $4 million deal contract with Turkish team Besiktas. He returned to the United States shortly into the season because of a right calf injury and never returned to Turkey.
Iverson says he has no serious offers from any teams overseas right now. He added that playing overseas also gave him a stronger appreciation for the NBA since it took him away from his family and “the highest level [of basketball] in the world.” He also says he’ll be willing to come off the bench and a reserve role even “makes it easier for me.”
“Obviously, they might have some issues thinking I don’t want to help a team in a certain capacity,” Iverson said. “But that’s over with. All that was going on through an emotional time. It cost me to not play. I’m just willing to help any squad in any capacity.
“Hopefully, one squad will believe in me and we will go from there. That would be a lot better than having to go overseas.”
Iverson says he’s completely healthy and can be in NBA shape in two weeks. He is hoping to show he can still play on an NBA level when he hosts his Las Vegas Superstar Challenge on Nov. 12-13.
Iverson will be one of four captains putting a team together in the four-team tournament. The winners of the two games on Nov. 12 will play in a championship game the next day. He announced Wednesday his stacked team is expected to include Kevin Durant, Amar’e Stoudemire, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, Jamal Crawford, Thaddeus Young, Shannon Brown and former NBA player Larry Hughes. Other players expected to participate – provided the lockout isn’t over and players aren’t having to report to camp – include Monta Ellis, Jimmer Fredette, Stephen Jackson, David Lee, James Harden, Tyreke Evans, Derrick Williams, Al Harrington, Kemba Walker and Klay Thompson.
“I wanted organizations to see me play and see what I can do on a high level against high-level people,” Iverson said.
Iverson’s accomplishments on the court merit his inclusion in the Basketball Hall of Fame. He’d just like to put one final stamp on his legacy that isn’t drenched in drama.
“It’s not where I want it to be,” Iverson said of his career. “When it does end, it’s going to end on a much better note than this right here. This is not the way it’s going to end. Even if I do have to go overseas to play in a competitive situation, it’s not going to end like this.
“I’m not going to let it end like this, and I don’t want it to end like this. My first step is doing everything I have to do to get back to that [NBA] level. But if that’s something that God doesn’t want from me, then that’s that.”