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Allen Iverson Leaves Grizzlies Leaving Many Questions, Few Answers

Nov 7, 2009 – 11:39 PM
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Rob Peterson

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When Allen Iverson signed a contract with the Memphis Grizzlies this offseason, you just had a feeling it wouldn't end well.

If most reports from Saturday night are true, you were right.

On Saturday, the Memphis Grizzlies granted the one-time league MVP his leave from the team for personal reasons. Yahoo's Marc Spears and ESPN.com's Chad Ford have both reported that Iverson's leave is indefinite and no timetable has been set for his return.

"Allen Iverson has left the Memphis Grizzlies and is not expected to return anytime soon," Spears wrote, "if at all, a source close to the situation told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday."

Mr. Ford?

"Head coach Lionel Hollins said Saturday night that Iverson's departure was "indefinite," Ford wrote on True Hoop. "Owner Michael Heisley said Iverson's absence has nothing to do with his displeasure about his role on the team. "

If it is, as Heisley notes, a personal matter that Iverson needs to take care of, then you have the hope that everything will be OK and that Iverson can get it settled in order to return to the Grizzlies as soon as possible.

But as Spears and Ford are reporting, it seems to be more of a personnel matter than a personal matter. And as anyone who knows anything about Iverson during his career is that he's a spotlight guy. Riding the pine isn't in Iverson's DNA.

Last season, he had problems coming off the bench for the Detroit Pistons, a team that had been to six consecutive Eastern Conference finals. Can you imagine the indignity he must have felt coming off the bench for the Grizzlies, a team that has never won a playoff game?

You don't even need to imagine, really. You can read for yourself. FanHouse's Matt Steinmetz caught up with A.I., who had played his first game after injuring his hamstring, on the recent Grizzlies road trip.

"I had no problems (with the hamstring)," Iverson said afterward. "I had a problem with my butt from sitting on that bench so long. That's the only thing I got a problem with."
Understood. You have two NBA All-Star Game MVPs and more points (24,020) than any active players not named Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. Please, continue.

"Yeah, I'll be disappointed (if he's a sub this season)," Iverson said. "I'm not a reserve basketball player. I've never been a reserve all my life and I'm not going to start looking at myself as a reserve. ... To answer the question, 'No, I'm not a bench player. I'm not a sixth man. Go look at my resume and that will show you I'm not a sixth man."
Did you expect anything less from Iverson, who has been a, quote-unquote: warrior, for his entire career? He may not like to practice, but he liked to play. He wanted a ring -- validation for all he had given to the game: heart, soul and body -- and was going to be dragged kicking and screaming into retirement. If anything signaled desire to play, at any cost (and in this case a discount at $3M per), it was signing with the Grizzlies in the first place.

But as of Saturday night, it seems as if Iverson was not going to leave it all on the court. Instead of going down fighting, his career has started to echo those far sadder words said by Gen. Douglas MacArthur soon after Harry S Truman fired him for insubordination: "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away."
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