Cody: 'Rocking chair' or not, Iverson is on the downhill

For $3.1 million dollars, Allen Iverson is certainly a bargain for the Memphis Grizzlies.

But, as the Detroit Pistons found out last season, AI is definitely not the AI of old.

Pistons president Joe Dumars' swap of Chauncey Billups for the baggage-laden Iverson last fall had as much to do with salary cap as performance. But even Dumars could not have expected Iverson's stats to flat line like they did.

Iverson averaged only 17.5 points per game last season, the lowest average of his career, and a far cry from the 33 he averaged during the 2005-06 season in Philadelphia.

At his introductory press conference Thursday, Iverson said the upcoming season will be "so personal."

"It's basically going to be my rookie season again," he told media. "It hurts, but I turn the TV on, I read the paper, I listen to some of the things people say about me having the season that I had last year and me losing a step, things like that. They're trying to put me in a rocking chair already."

Translation: Iverson has to prove he can still fill stat sheets with a terrible team so he can get a better contract next year with a better team.

The bottom line is Iverson has never been well liked. He's lazy ("We're talking about practice!"), injury prone and is certainly not a team player. All of that, plus his declining stats made him unattractive to just about every team in the league this offseason.

Iverson will flourish in Memphis. He will be the focal point of the offense and get his 25 points per game. But as a team, the Grizzlies will be no better than in years past.

At the most, the acquisition of Iverson will sell some jerseys and put some fans in the stands. For a struggling team like Memphis, that might not be so bad.

(kudos to Keith Allison for the great photo off of Wikimedia Commons)


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