Allen Iverson got Punk*d
(posted Monday, March 6, 2006 at 6:00 p.m.)
by Lang Whitaker, posted on Slamonline, I'm Just Saying.
Sunday afternoon, on ABC's perennially unpopular "NBA Hang Time" or "NBA Nation" or whatever they call their NBA pregame show that nobody watches, the US Men's Olympic Basketball team candidates were named. Twenty-three players were selected, and though not all of them will end up making the final team, to a certain degree this was like high school -- a popularity contest. (Rashard Lewis had his feelings hurt and declined to take part all together.) Still, all the big names -- Kobe, DWade, LeBron, Shaq, Amare -- were mentioned.
And then there was Allen Iverson. The same Allen Iverson who during the 2004 mess in Athens led the team in scoring and was second in assists, despite playing with a broken thumb. In fact, Iverson finished 12th in the entire Olympiad in assists and tied for 7th overall in steals. The same Allen Iverson currently averaging 33.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. That Allen Iverson.
He wasn't even invited to try out for the Olympic team.
Why not? Let's see what the director of the team, Jerry Colangelo, and coach, Mike Krzyzewski, had to say...
-- Asked about leaving Iverson off, Jerry Colangelo said: "When you look at what we were looking for at any particular position on this team and the components and the composition of this team, we needed some distributors. That's not to say Iverson is not a distributor. He's a great scorer; he's one of the great all-time scorers in the league. But we have seven of the top eight scorers in the NBA presently on this roster and you need someone to distribute the ball. It has to come from the point guard."
So you want point guards who can distribute the ball, and you go out and guarantee Chauncey Billups a spot? I know Chauncey can dish, but he's known more for his scoring, particularly clutch scoring.
And then you also invite Gilbert Arenas? Good grief.
-- Colangelo: "We wanted a team not of individual stars but of athleticism, shooters, role players, distributors, all of the components that make a good team. Basketball is ultimate team game."
Ladies and gentlemen, Kobe Bryant!!
"You know," Colangelo didn't add, "we wanted role players like Carmelo Anthony, JJ Reddick, Adam Morrison...guys like that."
-- "When you look at what we were looking for at any particular position on this team and the components and the composition of this team, we needed some distributors. That's not to say Iverson is not a distributor."
Um, yes it is, or else why would you say it?
-- Coach K on Chauncey: "When you play against zones he's not just somebody who can pass well but he's a threat from up there. He can flat out shoot it. And in end of game situations, he's as good free throw shooter as there is."
Kind of speaks for itself, doesn't it?
-- Regarding Morrison and Reddick, Coach K said:"They're both great scorers."
At this point I'm out of arguments. They're making my case for me.
-- Colangelo: "We have seven of the top eight scorers in the NBA presently on this roster and you need someone to distribute the ball. It has to come from the point guard."
For all the talk about building a team and guys who are able to do multiple things, they go out and invite 7 of the top 8 scorers? And who's the lone guy in the top eight not on the team? Allen Iverson!
These guys were so desperate to explain their way our of dissing Iverson that they even brough his age into it, noting that he'd be 33 by the time the 2008 Olympics roll around and no one was sure how healthy he'd be. Well why don't we wait and see. Besides, Shaq will be 36 by then, and he's been much more brittle than AI the last few years. Shaq still got an open invite.
More than anything else, it feels like politricks are coming into play. Does anyone out there really think that Shane Battier is a better defender than Bruce Bowen? And how much do you want to bet Battier makes the team because he played Duke?
Come on, Colangelo. Don't call us ugly and tell us we're stupid, too. We see what's going on. All the excuses, the circular reasoning...basically, you just didn't want AI on the team.
The thing is, it's your team, you can do whatever you want, but don't lie about it too, please.
What it comes down to, obviously, is that you guys didn't want Allen Iverson on the Olympic team.
But I wonder how Iverson's chances would have been had he been a 6-0 guard who didn't have any tattoos and happened to go to Duke?
-- Colangelo: "It was not an all-star team that was selected. It wasn't the top 10, 15 or 20 players playing in the NBA. It was trying to build a team that had the composition that we were looking for."
Namely, a composition lacking Allen Iverson. And as a US citizen and a fan of USA Basketball, I find that unacceptable.