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Ball Don't Lie

Allen Iverson declines a D-League invite, tweets that his ‘actions contributed to my early departure from the NBA’

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Allen Iverson during what should have been the completion of his legacy (Getty Images)

On Monday, Eric Freeman relayed the news that the Dallas Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, was interested in signing former NBA All-Star Allen Iverson to a deal with the team. This came on the heels of the minor-league outfit signing up a one-time starter on a championship contender in Delonte West, and a former NBA lottery pick in scoring guard Rashad McCants.

The report was well-sourced, from ESPN’s Marc Stein, but it seemed obvious from the sniff test that this was both a stab at publicity and ticket sales from the Legends (as is the team’s right), and something that Iverson would probably not deign to do, despite receiving little (stints in Memphis and Philadelphia) to no (everyone else) interest from NBA teams in the years since he was afforded a leave of absence from the Detroit Pistons in 2009.

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In spite of the fact that the Legends have already placed one 37-year-old NBA veteran on the Mavericks so far this year, current Mav Mike James, the 37-year-old Iverson has apparently declined a spot with the Legends. Iverson likely thinks it beneath him. He explained his rationale on his Twitter account early on Tuesday:

Iverson’s account had remained dormant for nearly two months prior to this explanation, and while we think that a trip to the D-League would hurt absolutely nobody (including Iverson’s pride; because he’ll get over that the first time he nails a step-back jumper over some kid), the embarrassment is understandable.

What’s impressive is the candor. Remember, Iverson was asked to leave the Philadelphia 76ers in 2006 while they worked out a trade for their unhappy star. He was asked to leave the Detroit Pistons late in 2009 after their acquisition of the guard went awry. He was asked to leave the Grizzlies early in 2009-10, and the 76ers later that season. Outside of his turn with the Denver Nuggets from early 2007 until November of 2008, there haven’t been a whole lot of happy endings here. Teams aren’t willing to take on a possible extension of that pattern for a tiny guard in his late 30s that was never all that efficient to begin with even in his athletic prime.

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Iverson may realize that now, in a way. It’s not fair to look too closely at Twitter quotes, but if the D-League isn’t the “right route” for AI, then what is? Teams are forever desperate for veterans, for guards, and for people that can put butts in seats. Iverson’s phone barely rang in 2009, when a then-lowly Grizzlies team signed him, and his last chance in Philly couldn’t have gone worse. Allen received endless standing ovations during his 25-game stint in spite of the way he left the team in 2006, and could have worked as the perfect mentor to young guards Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday on a team with little expectations.

Instead, his best case scenario still failed him. And if he’s expecting a call to an NBA team three years after that, well, that’s the longest of shots. We appreciate his candid tone, but it also wouldn’t hurt to sign up with a team that at least has an NBA affiliation, as opposed to continue to wait for one of 30 major league teams to call.

It’s another bummer of an ending in a career full of them. Unless Allen changes his mind, in which case it wouldn’t have to be an ending at all.

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