Allen Iverson in the Front Office? An Interesting Concept

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Allen Iverson on his retirement day. After a brilliant and sometimes tumultuous career, Iverson thinks he can help in the front office.

Allen Iverson on his retirement day. After a brilliant and sometimes tumultuous career, Iverson thinks he can help in the front office.

PHILAELPHIA— In addition to a devastating crossover and a game that you’d expect to see from guys twice his size, former 76ers guard Allen Iverson was known for not being real fond of practice.

But according to an article on nbc, Iverson would like to help the Sixers find some guys who might have a better attitude toward it.

Iverson has expressed a desire to be a part of the Sixers brain trust. That’s right, the guy who often clashed with head coach Larry Brown and was the subject of an angry tirade from former Sixers general manager Billy King when he and Chris Webber failed to show up for Fan Appreciation Day back in 2006, wants a gig in the front office.

Because skepticism and Allen Iverson go together like chocolate and peanut butter for some people, many believe that his bad off-the court habits and the perception that being a great player doesn’t mean you can spot talent, will keep him out of the Sixers war room.

The skeptics have a point. For every John Elway who has successfully transitioned from the field to both coaching and the front office, there are guys like Ted Williams and Elgin Baylors of the world who were absolute disasters.

During a 76ers broadcast, the irrepressible Iverson made his case for why he would be an ideal candidate for a front office post when he was asked what he looked for in a player:

“Their fight. Their fight. The fight in a guy. I’m the biggest [Russell] Westbrook fan I think there is. You know what I mean? Because he reminds me so much of myself as far as his heart and laying it on the line night in and night out. This is a guy who’s going to bring it every single night.”

That statement coming from Iverson has a lot of credibility because he lived it.  In street parlance, “game recognizes game.” Sure, Iverson had talent, but you don’t rise from the streets of Norfolk, Virginia as an undersized guard who had done time in jail to become an NBA All-Star without heart.

And while it’s not something you can measure statistically, heart is important and Iverson recognizes that. Besides, talent evaluation is an inexact science. Just ask all of the guys who passed on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Iverson should be the next Sixers general manager, but I do think his experiences as a player—the good and the bad—could be a good starting point.

Granted, there’s a whole lot for Iverson to learn and, and the whole suit and tie on a regular basis thing might be a deal breaker.

But if Allen Iverson approaches the opportunity to help create a good NBA team with the same conviction he did as a player, he could be a real game changer.

I hope he gets the chance.

The Final Answer: Allen Iverson Retires as a Sixers Icon

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Allen Iverson taking questions from reporters at his retirement press conference at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Allen Iverson taking questions from reporters at his retirement press conference at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Allen Iverson may have stood a few inches under 6-feet, but on the court he was as tall as Wilt Chamberlain and could fly as high as Dr. J., Julius Erving.

Like Chamberlain and Erving, Iverson, the Philadelphia 76ers first-round pick in the 1996 draft out of Georgetown, did some incredible things on the court. He also left a hip-hop sensibility in his wake similar to Chamberlain’s signature headbands and Dr. J’s ‘fro.

And he owns every bit of it.

“I took an ass-kicking for me being me in my career, for me looking the way I looked and dressing the way I dressed,” Iverson said. “My whole thing was just being me. Now, you look around the NBA and all of them have tattoos, guys wearing cornrows. You used to think the suspect was the guy with the cornrows, now you see the police officers with the cornrows. Know what I’m saying? I took a beating for those types of things.”

On Wednesday, Allen Iverson returned to the Wells Fargo Center, the place where he made his mark, to formally retire from the game of basketball as a 76er, and to thank the fans that supported him the most throughout his career.

He leaves the game with no regrets, despite the on and off the court drama that sometimes accompanied him, Iverson said.

Iverson also leaves knowing that he made it a lot easier for the nonconformist in the NBA due to his hard-charging, uncompromising style both on and off the court that gave a voice and a platform to an often-criticized and misunderstood generation of young people.

“I’m proud that I’m able to say I changed a lot in this culture and in this game,” he said. “It’s not about how you look on the outside, it’s who you are on the inside.”

During the ceremonies, Iverson acknowledged his former coaches–Georgetown head coach John Thompson and 76ers head coach Larry Brown–and former Sixers vice president Pat Croce for helping him to shape his career as a basketball player and as a man.

Poster featuring the many faces of AI. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Poster featuring the many faces of AI. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Known as one of the best pound-for-pound players in the history of the game, the 38-year-old Iverson won four NBA scoring titles, was an 11-time NBA All-Star, a seven-time All-NBA selection, a two-time NBA All-Star Game MVP, and the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2001. He was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year during the 1996-1997 season. He also averaged 26.7 points per game during the regular-season, giving him the sixth highest average all-time, and scored 29 points per game during the playoffs.

With those numbers, there is no doubt that Iverson is a Hall-of-Famer, possibly on the first ballot. He was arguably one of the best little men to play the game along with guys like Nate “Tiny” Archibald, Isaiah Thomas and Bob Cousy.

“I don’t think anybody would dispute that,” said Theo Ratliff, Iverson’s Sixers teammate during the 2001 season. “A guy that put up the numbers and do what he did throughout his career at 160 pounds and being one of the best scorers to ever play the game, you can’t beat that.”

Of course, Philly sports fans no doubt remember how Iverson led the Sixers on a magical run to the NBA Finals. Though the Sixers would lose in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers, Iverson played well, especially in game one of that series when he scored 48 points and hit that memorable jump shot over Lakers guard Tyronn Lue who leapt to block the shot.

During his retirement press conference, Iverson said he was glad to have had the opportunity to play in Philadelphia and  be mentioned in the same discussion with greats like Dr. J.  In the times that Iverson has made appearances at the Wells Fargo, the roar of the crowd is the same when Erving is in the building.

“When I think about Philly fans, that’s what I think about. I always wanted them to treat me the same way they treat him when he comes home,” he said. “When people tell me that it’s Doc and it’s A-I when you talk about Philly basketball that’s like one of the biggest compliments someone can give you. You put my name in the same sentence as Doc. That’s why this day is so special because of things like that.”

Iverson’s years in Philadelphia didn’t come without its share of controversy or vitriol. Aside from the braids and tattoos, people didn’t  like the company he kept, the way he partied and caroused, or his inability to take criticism from his coaches and the media. He also had his brushes with the law, most notably an incident involving his now ex-wife Tawanna. There were more than a few people in the community who thought him to be rude and arrogant.

And then there was 2002’s press conference that rocketed him into the Jim Mora stratosphere of sports-related meltdowns with the line “We’re talkin’ ‘bout practice!”

Iverson acknowledged all of that and admitted that some of the criticism hurt, especially when his kids heard it.

But through it all, Iverson said he has no regrets about his time as a basketball player in Philadelphia.

“It’s easy to say I wish I would have did it this way. I can’t go back and rewind it and do it all over again,” Iverson said. “I’m happy with the way I’ve done it because it taught me a lot.  To answer the question, no I don’t regret anything. If I could take back all the mistakes I made throughout my career, I would have missed no shots, I would have made no turnovers, I would have gone right instead of going left. I would have got on I-76 at 4 o’clock instead of five…

“I don’t regret it because it was blessing to get me here to the point to where I can retire. …Coming from Newport News, Va. what more could you ask for? My family is taken care of for the rest of their lives. What do you mean, regrets?”

Sixers Hope Bynum Will be a Force in the Low Post

Andrew Bynum could be the Sixers most athletic big man since Moses Malone.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun

With the Sixers acquisition of Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson in a blockbuster four-team deal involving the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, two eras came to an end in the City of Brotherly of Love.

One was a long time in coming and the other never got started.

Gone from the Sixers are longtime veteran forward Andre Iguodala, who is headed to the Nuggets.  The Maurice Harkless “era” came to a screeching halt before it began. The Sixers 2012 first-round draft [pick  along with 2011 first-round pick forward Nik Vucevic and a protected first-round pick for next year were dealt to the Orlando Magic.

The seven-foot Bynum, who is native of nearby Plainsboro, N.J. averaged a career-high 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Los Angeles Lakers last season and played in his first NBA All-Star game.  He is arguably the second-best center in the NBA next to the man who will take his place in Los Angeles—Dwight Howard.

Meanwhile, the 24-year-old, seven-foot tall Bynum will give the Sixers they haven’t had since the days of Moses Malone, a consistent scoring and rebounding presence in the low post.  Sixers general manager Rod Thorn said Bynum’s size and ability to score in the paint will create scoring opportunities for Sixers guard and wing players,, especially like  Richardson.

“Any time you have a low post center, he’s going to draw attention, double teams and you need shooting,” Thorn said. “If you look at our roster right now, we have a  (Jrue) Holiday who’s good outside shooter, we have Nick Jones, we have Dorrell Wright, and now we have Jason Richardson, who’s quality outside shooter. “

Richardson, the former Michigan State Spartan, has been in the league for 11 years and has averaged 17.5 points per game and has played 805 games.  For his career, Richardson is shooting 37.2 percent from three-point range.

As much as the team loved Iguodala’s on-court versatility and his athleticism, Thorn said the team needed someone with the ability to score in the low post when the game is on the game line, something that was lacking from the Sixers in the 2012 playoffs.

“(Iguodala) is not the player who’s going to dominate late in the ball game, but he is a fantastic player, playing for Denver he’ll be a fantastic player for them as well, “ Thorn said. “From our perspective, (Bynum) is going to have a huge impact on the court. He’s an all-round player with size, skills and strength. He’s got the whole package.”

Over a month and a half ago, the Sixers were raving over the potential of rookie Maurice Harkless and the impact he would ultimately have on the team once he got on the court.  However, the opportunity to get one of the league’s premiere centers was just too good to pass up.  Harkless was the deal -maker for the Sixers.

“I was loathing to include (Harkless) in it, but when you look at the bottomline you’ve got to give up something to get something,” Thorn said. “If we didn’t include Harkless in the deal we wouldn’t have been able to make the deal.”

Bynum does bring a championship pedigree to the Sixers, winning two titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. Sixers head coach Doug Collins, who is in London doing the color commentary for NBC’s Olympic basketball coverage, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was definitely happy with the trade.

“We think we’ve gotten bigger on the front line,” Collins said. “We’re more athletic. We’re bigger on the perimeter, we’ve added shooting.  All the things, we set out to do, we think we’ve done that.”

The downside to the talented Bynum is that he has a reputation for being a head case both on and off the court during his days with the Lakers. But Thorn said he believes the Sixers new center won’t be much of a problem in Philadelphia.

“We see Bynum as an intelligent, competitive guy who’s had some maturity things over the course of his years with the Lakers, but we don’t see any problem there at all,” Thorn said. “We think he’s smart and his maturity level has gone up every year. That was not an issue with us at all. We like everything we see about him and think he’ll fit in great with us.”