At first the thought intrigued me. Imagine Allen Iverson in a Knicks uniform.
And when I thought more about it, I realized that we really aren't part of the Isiah Thomas Era anymore. Imagine if Zeke were still calling the shots this summer?
Fortunately for Knicks fans, he isn't, and they all should pinch themselves every time they think of the team that resides at 2 Penn Plaza.
Even though they came into the league together, I always felt that Iverson was grouped in with Stephon Marbury far too often. Iverson could be a pain, just ask Larry Brown, but if you've ever talked with one of his teammates, no one has played harder for 48 minutes than AI. As for practice, well, we ain't talkin' about practice.
The thing that has separated Iverson from the likes of say, Michael Jordan, was the fact that Jordan led every single day and the others around him weren't allowed to skate. Iverson showed up on game nights.
Both Iverson and Marbury have had similar mentalities throughout the course of their careers. They want to take the shots and want to orchestrate the offense after they get touches first. And, ironically, like Marbury, Iverson gets looked upon negatively based upon team success after he was traded.
Marbury was traded to the Suns for Jason Kidd and the Nets drastically improved, and when the Suns shipped Steph to the Big Apple, they soon signed Steve Nash and that resulted in two MVPs. When Denver traded Iverson for Chauncey Billups, the Nuggets' team chemistry improved and they advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
Fair or unfair, as the old saying goes, "it is what it is."
I gained a ton of respect for Iverson during the 76ers' 2001 run to the Finals, which ultimately ran out of steam against the Lakers. But Iverson's team mentality once Coach Brown moved him off the ball to the shooting guard position was admirable, and to me, that separates him from Marbury. Steph couldn't get past Brown's criticism of his game, even though Brown was trying to make Marbury and the Knicks a more cohesive team. Brown had the same positive influence on Billups in Detroit.
With that said, Donnie Walsh knows that this team is headed in a different direction, and doesn't want to inject Iverson into a locker room that is filled with youth. It's fine if it were a Jason Kidd, an orchestrator, or Grant Hill, a gentleman, but Iverson brings too much to prove along with him.
Sure, it could have worked and Iverson may have shown the flashes that made him a superstar in this league. He could have lit up the Garden some nights and brought the fans to their feet. Dollars to donuts, if Zeke were here he'd already be signed.
But as Walsh patiently continues to search for the "answers" to improve a fragile organization, the wise move is to pass on this one.