A long time ago, August of 2004 to be exact, a hot topic surrounding the Sonics' franchise was the possibility of Ray Allen being traded and the Sonics acquiring Allen Iverson.
At the time, I wrote that it was exactly what this franchise needed to do, but that in the safe mode that Seattle always seems to operate it would never happen. Quite a few folks wrote in to say that I was an idiot, that Iverson's contract was untenable, that Allen's career would proceed much more smoothly, and that the Sonics would be foolish to do what I suggested.
Well, here we sit, almost four years later. I was thinking about that piece last night as the Blazers and Nuggets went to war in Portland. It was a great game, and I envied the Blazer fans for the playoff atmosphere in a February game. Iverson, Melo, Roy, Martin, heck, even Martell Webster in the third quarter - it was just a tremendous display of what makes the NBA great.
But back to AI. In the fourth quarter, and with his team trailing by two, Iverson drove left, received a pass from Melo out of the post, and promptly nailed a three to give Denver a one-point lead with 39 seconds remaining. It was just an unbelievably clutch shot, and Iverson's demeanor before and after it just made me smile. It was as if he had no doubt the shot would fall, despite the fact he was leaning left as he took it.
But he wasn't finished. With the game knotted at 103 in overtime, and the Nuggets with the ball coming out of a timeout, everyone in the arena knew AI was coming for the win. Heck, a three year old girl from Abu Dabi would have known what was coming. Sure enough, Iverson was up to the task, draining a 14-footer to give Denver the lead with .9 seconds remaining. Again, he had no doubt the shot would fall.
But what's your point, Pete, you ask, or are you just being an NBA voyeur who abandons his team's miserable Monday showing for more titillating sights south down I-5?
Here's the point: Four years ago virtually anyone in the NBA would have argued that it was smarter to sign Ray Allen to a long-term contract than to pick up Allen Iverson and his bloated deal. Iverson's attitude, his unpredictability, and, of course, the economics of it dictated the safe choice.
But how about now? Would anyone argue that it would be smarter to have Ray Allen's 2 1/2 years of contract or AI's 1 1/2? Considering that Iverson is still one of the best scorers in the game and Ray Allen is averaging less than 20 ppg, would anyone still take Sugar Ray's side?
I don't think so. Which leads to my point - nothing is for certain in this league, and sometimes you have to take chances. When the chances come, I'll take mine with a guy like Iverson.