Fans Felt That Allen Iverson Was The Answer.
Coach Larry Brown, Owner Michael Jordan, and GM Rod Higgins just might be smart enough to run an NBA team.
Before the start of the season, almost anyone with a casual awareness of the Charlotte Bobcats had an opinion about the possible addition of Allen Iverson. Days before Iverson signed a contract with the Memphis Grizzlies, steady rumors streamed the possibility that The Answer would reunite with Coach Larry Brown in Charlotte or find a spot with the Heat in Miami.
As the Bobcats headed into their training camp, Charlotte’s local media covered the news to capitalize on the buzz around the first relevant player to ever be associated with the Bobcats. Several sites (like this one) relayed each syllable of news related to the potential signing. Steadily, the predictably Charlottean (risk-averse, investment-minded) reaction toward Iverson’s “attitude problem” was pushed to the side by basketball fans wanting to see a star-caliber player that would entertain them with his on-court merits. While the public opinion may have been swayed, the Bobcats front office wasn’t. Reader polls may have shown that the serious ‘Cats enthusiasts wanted A.I. over team chemistry, but Larry Brown and company seemed to think otherwise.
Best Answer = No Answer
For a few weeks, Coach Brown delivered a consistent and diplomatic response when asked about the potential signing of Iverson, telling reporters that he didn’t think they could give him a respectable offer. Most of us didn’t see it at the time, but Brown was making it clear that the Bobcats were not going to sign Allen Iverson. Perhaps, it was entirely based upon Larry’s past experience coaching Allen in Philadelphia that told him that it wasn’t the right move for his team. Maybe, Rod Higgins and Michael Jordan dialed friends around the league (Detroit or Denver) and learned something that negated any marketing buzz that Iverson would have delivered to Charlotte. Despite the factors that affected their judgement to pass on the NBA’s 6th all-time scorer for a bargain contract, no one could have expected how the year would unravel for Iverson.
Fans from sites like this one, with much generous wisdom to share, would have ordered Bobcats GM Rod Higgins to draw up a contract for Allen Iverson on the first day of free agency. Instead, the team passed on the 34 yr-old shooting guard at the end of the summer. As the season began, Charlotte’s offense looked absolutely horrible. The Bobcats were on pace to become historically inept at scoring. At that early stretch of the season, The Answer seemed to be the obvious piece missing on the team. Quickly, Charlotte saved their season with a brilliant trade for another “difficult” shooting guard in Stephen Jackson, a player that brought the offensive skillset that the team lacked and the defense effort that Larry Brown required.
Disintegration may be a good term to summarize the contrasting situation for Iverson. Just as the talking heads warned, A.I. stepped into the Fedex Forum after signing with the Memphis Grizzlies and rubbed everyone the wrong way. The owner had several one-on-one meetings to discuss the situation and Iverson took a leave from the team nearly a week after the start of the season. Days later we was released, the Memphis marriage was annulled and the Grizzlies seemed improve right away. Briefly, Allen went into a short lived retirement. A good bit of the season passed before Iverson’s agent was able to secure a contract for the nearly untouchable player. Philadelphia brought A.I. back for a homecoming and the fans loved the story of his return. Unfortunately, the Sixers continued to struggle and Iverson performed like half the player he had been before. Injuries and family issues kept him away from the team at the mid-season mark. Although he had been voted in as an All-Star, Iverson declined to play so that he could tend to a family matter (presumably a child’s illness). Surprisingly, Allen had made his way to Charlotte for the CIAA tournament and after-parties rather than family matters during this stretch. Then, in early March, Iverson left the 76ers and news reports surfaced that his wife had filed for divorce on the same day. Philadelphia Inquirer’s Stephen A. Smith, who is said to be a fan of The Answer, wrote an article to publicly out Allen’s gambling and alcohol issues a week later.
It’s tough to hear about how the news and private information all went public so quickly, but it’s likely that this was the culmination of a pattern of troubled behavior. It just might be that the guys in charge of running Charlotte’s NBA franchise had just enough familiarity with Allen Iverson to keep themselves out of harm’s way.