Pistons' union with AI a matter of timing

Adrian Wojnarowski
Yahoo! Sports

NEW YORK – Across the dining room table, Joe Dumars introduced Allen Iverson to Detroit with an unmistakable word of warning: The Pistons' basketball culture isn't for everyone. He told him about the burdens of sacrifice and selflessness over shots and scoring, about the practices, the professionalism. As the hours passed inside his home this week, the Pistons president probed Iverson to support his suspicions that this trade wouldn't doom Detroit to a lost season in the championship chase.

"The reason I made this trade," Dumars told Iverson, "is that I think this is the environment you're craving right now."

This wasn't the most popular trade in the Pistons' locker room and Iverson's new teammates wouldn't ask these things of him. They would demand them. For everything Dumars had done to create salary-cap space for a run at LeBron James in 2010, he understood that a season without Chauncey Billups promised an uneasy proposition.

Dumars keeps thinking Randy Moss and the New England Patriots. He keeps thinking that the Pistons will be Iverson's Patriots. He listened to Iverson tell him about how life had changed at 33 years old for him, that marriage and five kids, and a newborn that had him up for feedings at 6 a.m., spoke of a different place, a different time, in his life.

"I don't know if I would've made this trade for the 2000 Allen Iverson," Dumars said.

Dumars listened to Iverson tell him that he understood the unsavory perceptions of him, that they bothered him, and that he wanted them to change. Allen Iverson talked about how he wanted the structure of the Pistons, the chance for a championship, to play a part in changing the way the world sees him. Before Iverson is done with his career, he thinks it an important thing to do for his kids.

As much as anything, Dumars' success with reclamation projects – resurrecting reputations and careers, delivering second acts that no one would've believed possible – has always been rooted in players arriving with an understanding that they hadn't always been victims of circumstance, that whatever issues they had with unfulfilled potential, with a championship-free career, deserved a look inward.

"After you don't win for a long time – and I mean a championship – at some point, you have to say, 'Maybe it's me,' " Dumars said. "Maybe it's something I'm not doing. That's one thing he did say, and that stuck in my mind. To me, that's the first step. You've got to acknowledge first that maybe it's me. What can I do better?"

This is different for Iverson. Everything in Philadelphia had been about him. The world revolved around his talent, his whims, his dramas. When the Denver Nuggets traded for him two years ago, his arrival was met with a broad belief that he would elevate the franchise into Western Conference contention. It never happened. Now, he makes his Pistons debut on Friday night in New Jersey as a one-year rental, an expiring contract whose arrival will be described as a failure unless he plays a part in getting the franchise back to the NBA Finals.

"I want to be around guys who are tough, committed to win, guys who want to win as badly as I do," Iverson said. "I think I'm in the right place. They won 50 games six years in a row. They care about winning. They're dedicated to winning. Me being at the end of my career, that's what I'm all about. All I care about is winning."

It sounds good, but all that the Pistons care about is performance. If he had to alter his game to play with Carmelo Anthony in Denver, he'll have to bend far more in Detroit. Yes, he gives the Pistons a one-on-one breakdown scorer that they've missed in the past two playoffs, but they'll need Iverson to discover that less has to be more on a champion.

Maybe the Pistons still weren't good enough with Billups, and they won't be good enough with Iverson. It won't be judged that way. This is a pass-fail for A.I., and he knows it. This season turns into a referendum on a legacy that badly needs the validation that'll come with the Pistons' system.

Besides knowing those close to Iverson, Dumars kept reading the evolution of Iverson's interviews and began to believe that it could work with him in Detroit. Answers evolved and perspective grew. He isn't so sure that Iverson could've succeeded with the leap straight out of all-about-A.I. Philadelphia directly to Detroit without a stop in Denver.

"That put him in situation where he had to share the floor with someone else," Dumars said. "That was the first step. Before that, it was kind of all him. Now, he's already had to sacrifice and share the ball with someone else. Now the last step is the whole team concept. He did it with one other superstar in Denver. Now, you come and do it with a whole team – a championship-caliber and championship-culture team."

There's an idea that Iverson and Rasheed Wallace will be too much turmoil for Michael Curry to coach, but that won't be why this experiment succeeds or fails. The 33-year-old Iverson isn't the 23-year-old, and even if grudgingly, people have to give him that. Wallace hasn't been perfect in Detroit, but his time there has taught the league so much more about a beautiful basketball mind and a championship will.

Dumars' instincts tell him that Wallace's second act is a good barometer for belief that this can work for Iverson, too. These are thirtysomethings who wouldn't have worked within the Pistons as twentysomethings.

"I like having them now, know what I mean?" Dumars said with a laugh. "I like having both of them now."

So the most intriguing reclamation project of this Pistons era takes the ball in New Jersey on Friday night, and the Pistons' new point guard goes. For now, Joe Dumars is still thinking Randy Moss and the Patriots. At 33, maybe Allen Iverson isn't too late. Maybe he's finally on time.

  • Tiger channels his inner Urkel for Ryder Cup

    Tiger Woods never enjoyed his college nickname, Urkel, but, according to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, the 14-time major winner who’ll serve as a vice captain at Hazeltine next month still has a bit of the nerd in him. Woods, who will navigate the famed Minnesota course from his golf cart as one of DL3’s four lieutenants, will apparently see much of the action standing at a white board, drawing up pairings and testing strategies for the 12 players going up against Rory McIlroy and his rookie-riddled European team. "Tiger was on the task force, he'll be a future captain, so he's got to be a part of the decision-making process of this whole new, Ryder Cup committee," Love said in a recent captain’s log entry. "Tiger is more interested in the strategy side of it -- rounding out the team with picks, or making small groups, making pairings.

    SB Nation
  • Aly Raisman Agrees to Date With Raiders Tight End Colton Underwood

    Apparently mixing gymnastics and football, as she’s recently agreed to go on a double date with Raiders tight end Colton Underwood, and his teammate Andrew East who is married to fellow Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson. Raisman is definitely up to it. Lucky for Underwood, Raisman is scheduled to visit the area within the next month.

  • League of Legends esports is in chaos over low pay, untimely patches, and more (UPDATED)

    The League of Legends esports scene is a mess right now. In the past few months, tensions between Riot Games and team owners within the LCS have been rising. There is a rift (sorry) between the owners and Riot due to disagreements about how the LCS and the rest of League esports should be run.

    Taylor Cocke
  • Not Even Speedo Will Root for Ryan Lochte Anymore

    After more than 10 years sponsoring Ryan Lochte, Speedo USA announced today that it will drop the Olympic swimmer from its roster. This follows a series of events that revealed Lochte lied about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio along with three teammates. The swimwear brand posted an official statement on Twitter.

  • Jered Weaver will decide if he wants to retire after the season is over

    Jered Weaver is in the last year of his five-year, $85 million contract with the Angels. He’s also just barely hanging on. To the extent he is succeeding — and he has had his moments — it’s almost all on guile given that his velocity has almost completely abandoned him. Could he hang on a while longer? Probably. Guile aint’ nothing and there are worse pitchers than Weaver, but if he’s going to keep going it will almost certainly be as a year-to-year guy fighting for a job every winter and fighting for a roster spot every spring. Some guys, especially guys who have made their money, may want to retire at that point. Weaver isn’t necessarily ruling it out, but he isn’t making any final decisions

  • Review: 'Madden NFL 17' runs hard, plays it safe

    Despite its incredible complexity and depth, Madden 17 is surprisingly kind to new players, as well as those who haven’t memorized every NFL team’s gameplay strategy. The upgraded run mechanics and countless small improvements certainly keep it a step ahead of Madden 16.

    Ben Silverman
  • Zach Johnson 'Rather Watch Sports That Should Be in Olympics' Instead of Golf

    In fact, he said Monday that he didn't even give Olympic golf a chance to win him over -- he refused to watch it at all. "I didn't watch golf. I'd rather watch the sports that should be in the Olympics," he said. "I'd rather watch the athletes who train for four years for that one week. Johnson was not happy with the way the Olympics affected the pros' schedule this summer and said he might support Olympic golf if amateurs played and if the tournament existed in a team format.

  • Fighter apologizes for racist taunts during UFC 202

    Welterweight newcomer Mike Perry's Octagon debut ended with a 1st round TKO of Hyun Gyu Lim on last Saturday's UFC 202 main card. Perry had caused a stir with a fake handshake gesture at the weigh-ins on Friday, but another incident on fight night itself, caused by one of his cornermen, was of a much more serious matter. On the UFC.tv broadcast of UFC 202 -- purchasing PPVs online provides fans with alternate camera angles and corner audio -- during the pre-fight introductions for Perry and Lim, a voice can be heard from Perry's corner clearly saying of Lim, "He can't even open his motherf**king eyes." UFC middleweight Alex Nicholson was one of the men in Perry's corner, and after some speculation

    Bloody Elbow
  • Could Wilson Chandler's 350-lb grouper start for the Denver Nuggets?

    Most NBA fans’ eyes were on Team USA’s gold-medal winning performance in Rio de Janeiro, but for me the most fascinating story of the weekend involved veteran Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler. The 29-year-old decided to do a little deep-sea fishing

    Ball Don't Lie
  • JR Motorsports solidifies driver, sponsor lineup as OneMain reconsiders and returns

    In the span of less than a week, the long-term sponsor outlook of JR Motorsports dramatically has shifted from potentially bleak to firmly bright. On the heels of NASCAR phenom William Byron being added to the Xfinity Series team for the 2017 season (as part of a multiyear deal with Hendrick Motorsports), JRM announced Wednesday that sponsor OneMain has reversed course and decided to remain on Elliott Sadler’s No. 1 Chevrolet. OneMain, which initially had informed JRM nearly two months ago of its plan to leave NASCAR, will sponsor Sadler for 20 races in each of the next two seasons, JRM general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller said. The team that she co-owns with her brother Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    NASCAR Talk
  • Aly Raisman Opens Up About Gabby Douglas Criticism & Zac Efron

    It wasn't all fun and games at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Although the Final Five became a fan favorite team during the Olympic games, member Gabby Douglas experienced something different than praise. While people couldn't get enough of Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Madison Kocian and Laurie Hernandez, Douglas started to become a victim of online bullying. After singing the national anthem without her hand on her heart and appearing to scowl from the stands while her teammates competed, viewers dubbed the gold medal winner "Crabby Gabby." Douglas' mom defended her daughter in an interview, and even Douglas spoke out against the cruel haters. But it was Team USA who helped her get through it from day

    E! Online
  • Positional rankings: Projecting the NHL's top 25 centers in 2016-17

    (Note: These rankings are based on players' projected performances in 2016-17. Players are listed at their official NHL position when the rankings were created.) Here’s the Yahoo Sports ranking of the top 25 centers in the NHL for the 2016-17 season.

    Yahoo Sports
  • Billy Bush on Ryan Lochte's Robbery Lie: 'Did He Besmirch America's Character? Yes'

    Billy Bush is opening up about his now-infamous interview with swimmer Ryan Lochte about his fabricated robbery in Rio. Yes, it was an unfortunate thing for us, because it was such a sideshow for the second week of the Olympics," Bush said during a SiriusXM Today Show sit-down. Bush was the first to track down Lochte for an interview after the swimmer's mother, Ileana Lochte, told USA Today that her son and some of his teammates had been held up during a night out in Rio.

  • Report: Lakers will sign No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram on Tuesday

    RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) When Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden were hired to take over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the expectation within in the organization and around the NBA was that they were coming in to make significant changes to a franchise with the longest-running playoff drought in the league. Ricky Rubio heard his name floated in the constant trade rumor mill, never more than after the Wolves selected Providence’s Kris Dunn, another point guard, with the fifth overall pick in the June draft. Rubio remained quiet throughout the summer, putting all of his focus into grieving the loss of his mother and then joining his national team to prepare for the Olympics. Now that the Rio Games have concluded and Rubio has earned a bronze medal with Spain, he said he is looking forward to returning to Minnesota to work with Dunn and reiterated his desire to remain with the Timberwolves and help turn them into a winner.

  • RB Karlos Williams visits with Jets

    Recently released Buffalo Bills RB Karlos Williams is visited with the Jets on Tuesday, SNY.tv's Ralph Vacchiano confirmed. However, there is nothing imminent between the two sides. After arriving to training camp 20 pounds overweight, the second-year running back was released last week from the Bills, and became a free agent upon clearing waivers Monday. Williams appeared in 11 games for Buffalo during his rookie season, carrying the ball 93 times for 517 yards, averaging 5.6 YPC, to go with seven touchdowns. The back also caught 11 receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns in 2015. The running back is set to serve a four-game suspension to start the year for violating the NFL Policy and Program

  • The entire British Olympic team arrived back in England with the same red suitcase

    Great Britain had an amazingly successful Olympics. A record medal haul, a nation of adoring fans welcoming Olympians home as heroes. There was just one problem — baggage claim. Great Britain’s athletes weren’t just given official Olympic attire, they got special Olympic baggage too. Baggage that matched. Heading to one of the world’s busiest airports. With everyone arriving at the same time. Athletes arrived just after 5 a.m. local time. Their bodies were telling them it was 1 a.m. because of the time difference to Rio. Bleary eyed, the athletes needed to try and work together in an effort to find which red bag in a sea of red bags was theirs. Gold medal rower Matt Langridge showed the scope

    SB Nation
  • AL East Notes: Yankees lineup, Mark Trumbo

    The New York Yankees are finding themselves making a drastic shift in the way they build an offense. Their power is coming from the right side of the plate. Carlos Beltran is gone, and the roles of Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira have been diminished. All of the young kids (Tyler Austin, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez) that have been promoted are right-handed. And they are seeing the impact of shifts against hitters. All of it is leading to a massive change in their lineup structure and offensive output. More news from around the American League East: He only hits home runs (38 of them to be exact), but the Orioles are complaining that Mark Trumbo’s offense is a one-trick pony. When the acquired

    MLB Daily Dish
  • Why A Freshman QB Gives Texas Best Chance To Beat Notre Dame

    Texas opens the season September 4th against 10th ranked Notre Dame. Campus Insiders' Ray Crawford spoke with Longhorns' Insider Ted Emrich about the QB battle in Austin and what fans should expect on offense with new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert.

    Campus Insiders
  • Ronda Rousey will not return at UFC 205 in New York

    If Ronda Rousey is going to return to the UFC in the future, it certainly won’t be at the fighting promotions highly anticipated debut in New York City. UFC president Dana White appeared on the “UFC Unfiltered” podcast to state that the former women’s bantamweight champion would not be fighting at UFC 205 on Nov. 12. “She’s definitely not fighting in New York,” White said.

  • Brad Keselowski glad Helio Castroneves is ok after scary pit road crash

    Shortly after Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves was involved in a scary crash on pit road in Monday’s ABC Supply 500 Verizon IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway, NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Brad Keselowski took to Twitter. Not only did Keselowski express gratitude that his friend and teammate was okay, Keselowski tweeted “Halos please” — a reference that essentially urged IndyCar to require halo devices that surround the driver cockpit, similar to those that were tested earlier this year in Formula One. Halo devices are among safety additions that IndyCar officials have considered since the tragic death of driver Justin Wilson a year ago at Pocono. The accident on Lap 64 occurred when Indianapolis

  • After falling in Olympic play, Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic is A-OK

    Mirotic averaged 11.8 points and 5.6 rebounds in eight Olympic games. Luckily for all involved, the 2016 Olympics passed without any major injuries in the Men’s Basketball realm. There will be a bit of fatigue – San Antonio Spurs fans were no doubt fretting over every bead of sweat Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and especially Pau Gasol dropped mid-August – but once again returning NBA players managed to escape the Olympic turn without a significant malady.

    Ball Don't Lie
  • Raiders' Colton Underwood downplays asking out Aly Raisman

    Colton Underwood is still surprised over the firestorm his video date proposal for gold medalist Aly Raisman created. "I was just asking a girl on a date," Underwood said Tuesday, via The Mercury News. Underwood said he and Raisman haven't officially talked yet, but they messaged each other on Twitter to set up the date.

    Sporting News
  • League Cup second round preview: 13 Premier League teams enter the fray

    The newly-named EFL Cup has already had one round of action but now the 13 Premier League teams arrive in the midweek knockout competition between all 92 of England’s professional teams. With 21 games on Tuesday and four on Wednesday we will see PL clubs go up against minnows from the lower leagues as managers shuffle their lineup and give squad players a game. [ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores here ]  Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton all enter at this stage with Antonio Conte‘s Blues hosting League One Bristol Rovers, Jurgen Klopp‘s boys heading to Championship side Burton Albion and Everton hosting League Two Yeovil Town. There are so many potential banana skins for PL clubs playing away from

  • Tom Brady's absence from the Patriots a bit of a mystery

    Jimmy Garoppolo is in the quarterback meeting room with Tom Brady just every day, and if anyone on the team knew why the New England Patriots star was missing on Sunday and Monday, it would probably be Garoppolo. “Your guess is as good as mine,” Garoppolo told WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan with Minihane,” via NESN. Garoppolo’s “game day” reference was about last week’s preseason game, when he assumed Brady would start, but then Brady was suddenly scratched after cutting his thumb with scissors.

    Shutdown Corner
  • City of Los Angeles declares Kobe Bryant Day for August 24

    RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) When Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden were hired to take over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the expectation within in the organization and around the NBA was that they were coming in to make significant changes to a franchise with the longest-running playoff drought in the league. Ricky Rubio heard his name floated in the constant trade rumor mill, never more than after the Wolves selected Providence’s Kris Dunn, another point guard, with the fifth overall pick in the June draft. Rubio remained quiet throughout the summer, putting all of his focus into grieving the loss of his mother and then joining his national team to prepare for the Olympics. Now that the Rio Games have concluded and Rubio has earned a bronze medal with Spain, he said he is looking forward to returning to Minnesota to work with Dunn and reiterated his desire to remain with the Timberwolves and help turn them into a winner.