Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Answer is "Bye-Bye"

So Allen Iverson has finally gotten the long-rumored ride out of town that has been bruited about since the Polk administration. For Philly fans (those who are left, this deep into Billy King's reign), it's a moment of profound ambivalence. All other considerations aside, Iverson played Philly, throwing his body out there with reckless abandon, fighting through injuries, and never giving up on the hardwood. Undersized and fearless, he routinely went where his theoretically bigger and stronger teammates wouldn't, driving the lane with the sort of daemonic fervor that is the real hallmark of Philadelphia fandom. On the other hand, he never quite seemed to understand that the off-the-court stuff mattered, too. He may not have needed practice, but his teammates certainly did, and one suspects his attitude toward drill might not have helped the Kyle Korvers of the world improve. He never met a shot he wouldn't take, froze out other teammates who might have taken some of the burden from his shoulders, and generally had a relationship with the Sixers that had a definite Taylor/Burton quality to it.

And now he's gone. Despite everything, I'll miss seeing him as a Sixer. Whatever Iverson's other sins might have been, he never stinted on effort and was always fascinating to watch.
The deal might have "had" to be made - clearly, staying together for the sake of the kids wasn't working, not with kids like Dalembert and Iguodala - and the marriage was over. But he was one of the all-time Sixer greats, and he specialized in routinely doing the impossible through energy, will, and effort as much as through transcendent talent.

King, for his part, got a surprisingly good haul for having his hands tied - a decent point guard in Andre Miller, two draft picks in what everyone is at pains to call "the deepest draft in years", and a stiff with an expiring contract. Karmically, this begins to balance the horror that was the Bobby Abreu deal, particularly if King can parlay his 3 first round picks into 1 Greg Oden.

But that's for June. Right now, Iverson is with a new team in a new city, one that could certainly use his talents. He's got a running mate who won't be shoved aside a la Hughes or Stackhouse or any of the others the Answer has marginalized. And the Sixers are going to be absolutely dire, now and for the forseeable future, but that beats the hell out of scrapping in perpetuity for the 8th seed and the right to be swatted at random by the one Eastern Conference team with a pulse.

So Allen, thanks for the memories.
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