March 05, 2006

Iverson gets jobbed

While watching an NBA game the other day I learned something that really upset me. Allen Iverson, my favorite player, will not be invited to the upcoming practices for Team USA in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. To be sure, they haven't even selected the final 12 man team -- this is simply the list of 22 that will eventually be narrowed down to 12.

Iverson is easily one of the top ten players in the NBA right now, possibly the top five. Bill Walton mentioned during an ABC telecast of the Sixers game today that he thought only Shaq and Tim Duncan have done more than Iverson for NBA basketball since the retirement of Jordan. He has the third highest points per game stat in the history of the NBA. Given his elite skill level, it's ridiculous to think he shouldn't be on the list of 22 that get the chance to make the final team.

Iverson - disappointed but not letting it get to him.

Why do I like Iverson so much? He's a dynamic and exciting player. He's also the shortest and lightest player ever to win the MVP award. He came from poverty too which serves as inspiration: a poor man of moderate build can still be the best in the world at something. Because he's so short compared to the other players he often makes the most fantastic and dazzling plays out of necessity. A game with Iverson in it is never boring.

So why did they decide to keep Iverson off the team? An obvious explanation would be that he doesn't get along with Kobe. Or that he's had trouble in the past with Larry Brown -- the coach of the 2004 Olympics team. As an aside, everyone was so quick to blame the players for only getting bronze in 2004 but when you have the best players in the world and you fail to get gold who else is there to blame but the coach? The same Larry Brown that lost the 2004 Olympics also lost the 2001 NBA Championship by -- among other things -- inexplicably taking Mutombo out of the game late in Game 2 after Shaq fouled out.


Iverson and Mutombo - they'll be watching the 2008 Olympics on TV.

The real reason why Iverson was excluded might be more shady than a simple personality conflict. According to Walton, 17 of the 22 players invited are Nike-endorsed players and not a single Reebok-endorsed player (such as Iverson) was invited. It's sad to think that Nike money kept one of the most exciting and popular players out of the premier sporting event in the world. The article linked above mentions that Iverson's jersey outsold Yao Ming's in China. To not give Iverson at least the chance to prove he deserves to be on the team is an absolute travesty.

Posted by dr_v at 02:55 PM