Former NBA MVP and 11-time all-star Allen Iverson is, again, ready to make a return to the NBA.
I'll play for anybody, Iverson echoed.
But the chances of teams make a play for him seem slim. The only two guards in the league at Iverson's age still getting significant playing time are Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. On top of that, the NBA is a young league with rising young stars, including guards.
Iverson played in Turkey last season and last appeared in the NBA with the team who originally drafted him in 1996, the Philadelphia 76ers, when he averaged 13.9 points, 4.1 assists and three rebounds per game in the 25 contests he appeared in, all well below his career averages.
Iverson has said that family issues left him distracted over the past two seasons. His young daughter had some serious health issues and Iverson was going through a divorce with his wife. But now, those distractions are behind him.
That wasn't me at all, Iverson said, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. Obviously, I was dealing with the situation with my daughter and going through a divorce, and I wasn't there mentally. In my career those last couple years were so hard for me because I wasn't there. Mentally, I wasn't there. During those 48 minutes on the basketball court, all I [ever] cared about was that time right there. Nothing else distracted me. But at times, I felt myself standing on the court just thinking about my daughter, thinking about the situation with me and my wife. I wasn't giving [the teams] everything I had mentally.
Even though Iverson's divorce is still in the process, he told Spears that it's not like it was and his kids are healthy.
To show NBA teams that he's ready to play again at the NBA level, Iverson is hosting his Las Vegas Superstar Challenge at the Thomas and Mack Center on Nov. 12-13. The team Iverson has put together for himself will likely include Kevin Durant, Amar'e Stoudemire, Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson, according to Spears.
During his prime, Iverson was one of the best scorers in league history, winning four scoring titles between 1999 and 2005. He led the league in scoring five times, averaging over 30 points scored per game three times. Despite his dominance however, he has never won an NBA title.
Iverson will be hard-pressed to find a team that both wants him and needs him. All the big market teams -- the Knicks, Lakers, Bulls, Celtics, Heat and Mavericks -- most likely won't be asking. Other teams -- like the Suns, Hornets, Thunder, Spurs, Hawks and Magic -- are stable and paying a lot of money at the guard position, which doesn't favor Iverson. Finally, the teams he's already played for -- the Sixers, Nuggets, Pistons and Grizzlies -- probably saw what they needed to see already.
So, after some boiling down, the teams in most need of Iverson are the Toronto Raptors, the Washington Wizards, the Golden State Warriors, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Charlotte Bobcats.
What all these teams have in common are youth, inexperience and obscurity, despite talent at the guard position. Having Iverson on board should result in some veteran leadership on the part of Iverson, depending on how serious and focused he is. His knowledge and presence should catapult one of these teams, who all finished under .500 last season, to some more wins.
The cost, however, is that Iverson may himself just fall into obscurity all over again. All the teams mentioned above have a long way to go before becoming noticed and being contenders.