"A person with my resume, things that I've done in my career ... to come off the bench I just felt like it would be tough for me mentally," he said. "I know I can get through the whole thing physically, but just mentally it was tough for me. But the whole thing I thought about the big picture. And that's helping my teammates get a win. And, you know, the more I thought about that, the more I relished the challenge of having to come off the bench."
A few minutes later, he closed the press conference by saying, "Now, my whole thing is trying to be the best sixth man that I can be, and the best sixth man in the league."
Forty-eight hours later, Iverson has apparently backed down from the challenge, complaining after Tuesday's loss in Cleveland about his lack of playing time. From Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
"Eighteen minutes, c'mon, man. I can play 18 minutes with my eyes closed, with a 100-pound truck on my back. That's a bad feeling.The timing of the complaints, just days after professing an open mind to the situation, is laughable, as is the suggestion that he "rushed" back.
"I'm wondering what the rush was to get me back. I mean, for that?"
[...] "This is a bad time for me mentally," Iverson said. "I'm just trying to get through it without starting a bunch of nonsense. ... I'm just trying to laugh as much as I can man to stop from crying."
After being told that he was being moved to the bench, Iverson came down with a mysterious back injury that Detroit's renowned training staff could never put their finger on -- it took several examinations and a visit to Iverson's former college before finding a doctor who diagnosed him with "soreness" and prescribed at least two weeks of rest. Iverson ended up taking four.
Were it not for the fact that the Pistons actually played better without Iverson -- at least until Rip Hamilton tweaked his groin and Rasheed Wallace tore a calf muscle -- it's likely the question as to whether Iverson was actually injured or merely pouting would have received more national attention. Aside from Reggie Miller suggesting that Iverson was "holding this team hostage" on a recent TNT broadcast, Iverson essentially received a pass.
Of course, that didn't stop Iverson from ripping media last weekend "Negativity is going to sell," he said after Sunday's game. "If you can come up with a negative story about Allen Iverson, then everybody want to listen. They don't want to hear nothing positive about me."
Chalk this up as another negative article, I suppose. But is it a grand media conspiracy or a self-fulfilling prophecy? I'll let you be the judge.