Archive | December, 2006

Time to Go: Sixers don’t deserve Iverson

10 Dec

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

 

If you don’t know by now or unless you’ve had your cable cut off, you all know that Allen Iverson’s days in Philadelphia as a 76ers are over. Done.

 

Last Friday night, I was among the throng of the media hordes surrounding Sixers owner Ed Snider when he confirmed for us what general manager Billy King tried to avoid saying to us earlier in the evening.

 

“Allen’s been here for 11 years, he’s done a great job for this organization. He’s one of the greatest basketball players of all time and I’m not here to diss him in any shape or form,” Snider said. “It’s time for him to go his way and for us to go our way. … We’re going to trade him. At a certain point you have to come to grips with the fact that it’s not working. He wants out and we’re going to accommodate him.”

 

As much as I have as I loved watching A.I. over the years, it is time for him to leave this Popsicle stand of a franchise that absolutely had no hope of winning a championship.

 

Before all the Iverson  trade rumors came out in Friday’s New York Post, I wrote a column in Tuesday’s edition of the Philadelphia Tribune, saying that Iverson should ask to be traded because there’s no way he was going to win anything with the franchise in its current configuration was going to win a championship or even make the playoffs.

 

I wrote that column based on the look of defeat and resignation that I saw on Iverson’s face in the Sixers locker room following Sunday night’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Wachovia Center.

 

As he fielded questions from a group reporters gathered around his locker, Iverson’s body language-with his arm folded and his neck trying to keep his head up had the look of  “get me out of here now.” When trade rumors surfaced on previous occasions, Iverson always reiterated his desire to want to say in Philadelphia.

 

Seeing Iverson at his locker, he even knew deep down inside that it was time to go. When he was held out of practice and told not to come with the Sixers to Orlando, he saw the writing on the wall.

 

“As hard as it is to admit, a change may be the best thing for everyone.  I hate admitting that because I love the guys on the team and the city of Philadelphia.  I truly wanted to retire a 76er,” Iverson said in a statement released by his agent Leon Rose. “I appreciate that in my 11 years in Philadelphia, the fans have always stood by me, supported me, and gone to bat for me.”

 

But the sad reality that Iverson has always known is that the Philadelphia 76ers have done little to nothing to put a team good enough to make a run for a championship. But this has been the case since former general Pat Croce left the team back in 2002.

 

Going back to the end of the season when he and Chris Webber didn’t show up for Fan Appreciation Night at the Wachovia Center, I thought that subconsciously or maybe even consciously Iverson was voicing his displeasure with the organization. I think that was the case when he failed to show up a 76ers Christmas party for season ticket holders and corporate sponsors a couple of weeks ago.

 

As inexcusable as both of those incidents were, I believe the root cause of it had to come from Iverson’s disenchantment with where the franchise was going. Don’t get me wrong I certainly don’t condone Iverson’s actions in and to be sure he has his own share of mistakes he has made during his time here, but I think he has been unhappy with the team’s effort to make a legitimate run for a title.

           

Last summer when everyone thought Iverson’s trade was imminent, I asked Iverson at the press conference in Washington, D.C. promoting his annual softball game if the Sixers organization had done enough to bring guys in to help him win a championship.

 

“Obviously not because it hasn’t happened yet,” said Iverson back in July. “It just makes me feel kind of bad that I had a strong season and we didn’t make the playoffs. “If I am there, we need guys around me and Chris [Webber] that’s going to give 110 percent night in and night out.”

 

And that is the real source of Iverson’s anger with the Sixers organization. King and the Sixers management did nothing to make this team better in the off-season. Inexplicably,  a team that desperately needed a point-guard and some depth at power forward and center drafted a Andre Igoudala clone in small forward Rodney Carney out of Memphis.  This team needed guys to rebound the basketball and banked on the idea that team would get better with familiarity with each other and their coach Maurice Cheeks.

 

What a bunch of hogwash that was. The team stinks just as bad as it did last year and are probably a whole worse and I blame that on King’s inability to bring in players that would fit his talent.

 

And please don’t tell me that players don’t want to play with him and that he doesn’t make players better. Bull-shit! If you remember the 2005 All-Star game, Iverson didn’t score over 20 points but put other guys in position to score. He was the MVP of that All-Star game. And remember 2001 when he took that team to the NBA Finals. In that year, he had a solid supporting cast of guys who could actually play basketball—unlike the group he was playing with the last two years. 

 

“Larry Brown was the Coach of the Year for the first time in 2001. Why? Because Allen Iverson had a good year. They say he doesn’t make players better. He made for money for George Lynch, Eric Snow, Tyrone Hill, Aaron McKie, etc.,” former Sixers coach and NBA analyst Fred “Mad Dog” Carter told me in a phone interview last summer. “He won the MVP for the All-Star game when he wasn’t the leading scorer.”

 

While Iverson would never throw his teammates under the bus and criticize them publicly, I think Iverson was not happy with the ability of some of his teammates and was frustrated that those players didn’t come to play night in and night out like he did.

 

Where ever Iverson goes, I hope he wins that world championship that he couldn’t win here. All the mistakes that he made off the court will be forgotten years from now  and the only thing that people will remember of Iverson was that he was a warrior who came to play every night whether he was injured or not. He gave all he could to help his team win a championship. It’s a shame that the Sixers organization didn’t give the effort as Iverson did.

Don’t Blame the Media for Your Team’s Issues

2 Dec

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Today’s column is dedicated to my good friend, frat brother and P.G. Journal/Gazette colleague John Harris III and every hardworking dedicated journalist because you all can relate to what you’re about to read.

During the course of the buildup to Sunday’s big game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, injured Giants defensive end Michael Strahan criticized teammate Plaxico Burress on his radio show on WFAN for not playing with enough effort on an interception by Tennessee’s Pac Man Jones in New York’s loss to the Titans.

“It’s a shame, because Plaxico is a great player and he’s a good guy to be around,” Strahan told WFAN talk show host Joe Benigno. “But, at the same time, you’re judged by your actions out there on the field. And you can’t give up, you can’t quit, because you’re not quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on us, you’re quitting on everybody.”

This was the latest in a series of Giants internal squabbles being played out in the media—Tiki Barber publicly criticized head coach Tom Coughlin for his play-calling last week. On Wednesday, ESPN reporter Kelly Naqi asked “media worker” Michael Strahan about his comments. At first, he refused to talk to her because he normally talks to reporters on Thursdays.

Later that day, Naqi asked Burress for his reaction and he said Strahan had not spoken to him about his play in Sunday’s game at Tennessee and that he was stung by his teammate’s assessment of his play (or actually by the fact that Strahan called him out on his radio show).

Meanwhile, the rest of media hordes gathered around Strahan’s locker to get his comments. Visibly upset and quite possibly embarrassed by his actions, called out Naqi and accused her and the rest of the New York media of trying to divide the Giants.

“We don’t prepare to come in to have someone who wants to take a comment and try to divide teammates in a way that it just disrupts this team, because we don’t have that division here,” Strahan said. “So if you want to come here with the negative, you’re coming to the wrong guy, because I’m not a negative guy. I don’t kill my teammates. I’m a man, and I talk to my teammates.” (After you bash them on your radio show)

In other words, once again it’s the media’s fault that the Giants are bickering with each other and on this one he’s right –because he has a talk show—HE’s IN THE MEDIA and used his media outlet to call out his teammate and was upset because he got called out.

And to top things off, Giants running back Brandon Jacobs and host of other Giants came off the practice field in full view of reporters singing an out of tune rendition of Twisted Sister’s “We’re not going to take it,” to tell reporters that they are not a divided team and that it’s their fault for attempting cause division in their ranks.

I guess the Giants are going to be pumped up for Sunday’s big game against the New York Media Workers in the upper press box at Giants Stadium. Oh, I forgot about their game against the Cowboys. Oooops.

 

When you’ve lost three straight, you have guys at each other’s throats for whatever reason and you need an external enemy to rally against why not the media?

If the Giants, who blame the media for causing division in their locker room and making them lose, beat the Cowboys on Sunday will they give the media credit? If we media are the reason for a team’s losing streak or division in the locker room because of the stories we write or broadcast, will those guys give us credit for when they win? Think about it. When a team wins or scores a touchdown, will they say it was one of those “positive” stories we wrote in the media earlier in the week helped them keep their heads in the game? Or those awe inspiring words that we put together in a 25-inch feature motivated running back X to gain 150 yards rushing on 27 carries? Surely, we must have had a hand in that one, too.

 

I mean if the media gets blamed for a team’s troubles or if a guy like Strahan can accuse the press of dividing a team, then we should get some “dap” when they do something good, too. Hell, I want some credit, too. I think some of the stories I wrote during the 2004 season helped the Eagles make their run to the Super Bowl. I would love to hear Andy Reid at his post game press conference say, “Well, the Philadelphia media did a real nice job of writing stories to help our team win.” Or Donovan McNabb saying, “anytime Chris Murray writes a story, he inspires us to a higher level.”

 

C’mon, man where’s the love?

 

 

Y’all know I’m being facetious. Reporters nor the stories we write have anything to do with a team’s success or failure. The media doesn’t create divisions in the locker room, cause fumbles, score touchdowns or kill germs that can cause bad breath. If Strahan was so concerned about team unity, he shouldn’t have criticized Burress on his radio show.