What happened? For one, all of the stereotypes that have surrounded him his entire career proved to be still true: he needs an offense custom-made for his abilities to be effective; he can no longer finish consistently at the rim; he's a sieve on defense; he'd rather sit out than concede a starting job.
Scoring guards are generally the easiest asset to find in the NBA, and considering the undeniable evidence that Iverson's game has slipped, it now longer makes sense to make him the primary focal point. Nevertheless, Iverson, 34, is in no hurry to leave the game the game behind, revealing in a recent interview with his hometown paper in Newport News, Va., that he hopes to play until he's 40.
Q: You said hopefully the next stop is a place you can retire. How many years do you think you might have left?Iverson seems to realize that his skills are no longer valued quite as much as they used and seemed to accept the fact that he'll have to take a significant pay cut if he hopes to prolong his career.
A: I used to say that I didn't want to go over 40. I see young guys emulating the way I play ... and I used to think it would be weird to be 40 years old and doing the things I do. You can't be 40 years old still trying to cross people over and stuff like that. ...
But the one thing God gave me is the stamina to be able to run all day, as far as being a freak of nature. My teammates always say that about me. I honestly feel like I'm not slowing down. I'm just thinking I don't want to go past 40. I'll push it to the limit. I hope God gives me six more good years.
Iverson: Man, if money is a concern to me at this point in my life, after all that I've made, then I've got a problem. So that's not going to be a big deal. The biggest deal is going to be being happy. That's it. ... In Denver I was happy all the way through, but that was what, two years? I'm talking about a steady diet of happiness all the way through. That's all I want at this point in my career.Maybe his time in Detroit taught something, or maybe he's simply saying all the right things -- if you recall, he made virtually the same comments while being introduced in Detroit, claiming he'd do anything if it meant winning. When push came shove, "anything" didn't include coming off the bench, trusting the team's renowned medical staff to treat his back injury or showing up to the arena to support his teammates while he was injured.
Obviously I want a championship, but I don't care about statistics anymore like I did when I was younger. I don't care about All-Star games. I don't care about scoring titles, MVPs, none of that. I just want to play basketball, be effective and be happy. Be a great teammate. I don't even care about being dominant on the court like I used to be. I don't have any more individual goals. I've done basically everything you can do in a basketball game.
His skills may be in decline, but his ability to say exactly what everyone wants to hear while proceeding to do the exact opposite is still in peak form.