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NBA Philadelphia 76ers

Pride Is Allen Iverson’s Biggest Opponent

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.”  – Thomas Merton

Before I start, this isn’t going to be a diatribe about the life and career of Allen Iverson. I am not going to recite his NBA career statistics, his off-the-court problems, his divorce, or his post-NBA career woes.  Or recite that the fact he’s fought poverty, drugs, and a court case only to ball out at Georgetown and become the shortest player to be selected No. 1 overall in the 1996 NBA Draft . I’m not going to bring up his “practice rant”, gambling problems, or the fact he still wears cornrows in 2013. Nope, not today.

I’m not going to bring up sabremetrics about his inefficient shooting numbers for his career, his inability to run the point guard position, or carrying an awful Philadelphia 76ers team to the 2001 NBA Finals. This isn’t about his unwillingness to change or evolve his game, or the fact he’s an 11-time All-Star and one of the league’s most polarizing players of his generation. He’s overcame the odds in almost every facet of his life, whether you like him or not. But there is one hurdle he has never overcame, and it has (and will) end his career.

His pride. And sadly, it can be blamed for all of his successes as well as failures for his NBA career.

Not signing a contract to play for NBDL team Texas Legends may be the end of the Iverson comeback to the NBA story. Perhaps we can understand that its hard for a 37-year old to accept the notion of  “developing” in a league filled with developing NBA players.  Regardless of his distant redeeming qualities on the court, Iverson may have used up his sympathy lifelines at making an NBA comeback. You may point to the narrative that Iverson is shooting himself in the foot with this move, but what we don’t understand that this is bigger than basketball…

Iverson’s pride dominates the headlines more than his contributions to basketball history. But who’s to say that a great NBA player doesn’t have pride? Pride tends to fuel your competitive spirit, and pride can serve you well if you happen to overcome obstacles or be a detriment.

The issue is, Iverson has overcame so much already, perhaps his pride is justified in his on mind, but to the average 30K a year journalist on a Macbook, pride is his only detriment to his career. You can take a stand either way if pride is either holding him back or fueling his competitive spirit, but at 37 years old, divorced, and rejecting overseas offers to play basketball, its hard to point to anything other than pride that prevented Iverson to sign that contract with the Legends.  Its it fair? Can pride be rational? Not sure, but to my knowledge, the only thing that can rationalize pride is humility.

Can we assume that Iverson, out of the league since 2009 hasn’t had his taste of humility? Can we sit here on our high horse, and blame pride for an 11-time All-Star not singing a contract with a development league at 37? Can you name anybody else at 37 that can produce at a higher level than Iverson could at this point? Can Iverson accept a role as a team player?  These are all questions where Iverson must be the “Answer” instead of the potiental problem.

The latest challenge for Iverson is psychological. He can’t rely on his quickness, his heart, or his past basketball successes.  His legs may not be able to jump over the hurdle named pride anymore. Too bad humility is entirely psychological…

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