Allen Iverson has never put a clock on his career. Just one stipulation: If I can't be Allen Iverson anymore, he would often say, then I don't want to keep playing. Apparently Iverson still believes he can be himself. Last week the former NBA MVP signed a two-year, $4 million deal with the Turkish club Besiktas. "My whole thing was being wanted and being accepted by a ball club," Iverson said. "That was the most important thing to me."
Why is Iverson, an 11-time All-Star and one of the best little men in league history, no longer wanted in the NBA? The answer to that might just be the Answer himself. Iverson's balking at coming off the bench with Detroit led to his banishment from the Pistons at the end of the 2008--09 season. He encountered similar problems with Memphis, which waived him after just three games in '09. "I don't think my basketball talents have anything to do with the reasons I'm not on an NBA roster right now," says Iverson. "I made a lot of mistakes. And obviously it cost me." When Iverson was shopping for a job this summer, he assured teams that he was willing to accept a reduced role. No one bit. "He's just too big a risk," says the general manager of a Western Conference team that considered Iverson. "He says he will come off the bench, but right now no one believes that."
Iverson admits part of his motivation for heading overseas is to show NBA teams that he can still play. The Turkish League is one of the weaker leagues in Europe, and even at 35, Iverson should put up big numbers. He has an opt-out clause in his contract after the first year, and a source close to Iverson says he is hoping a year as a good player—and a good soldier—will get him another shot in the NBA. "I'd be lying if I said [getting back to the NBA] wasn't an issue," says Iverson. "A lot of me not being in the NBA is my fault, but I can't cry over that. I have to move forward."
STEPHEN CHERNIN/AP (IVERSON)
SHOWING NEW COLORS His overseas deal will give Iverson a shot at redemption.