SportsProf

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Collins: I Want Allen Iverson to be a Part of the 76ers' Family

That's not a misprint.

Upon hearing that Iverson might return to the U.S. for good because his b-ball career in Turkey might be over (to me, reports of AI's demise are greatly exaggerated; he'll play somewhere until he cannot walk), 76ers' head coach, Doug Collins, gushed (for him) about Iverson yesterday and said that he has so much to offer the organization, including wisdom.

So let's think of a few analogies:

First, when Collins talks about "family,' what type of family is he talking about? The Sopranos? Addams?

Second, when Collins is talking about "wisdom," what does he precisely mean? Many corporations talk about how their important intellectual property includes know-how about all of their attempts in research and development that failed, because those failures help give them a roadmap to potential successes elsewhere. Look, AI had a great run, and for me it's just fine that his teams didn't win the title because, well, AI liked the spotlight on the one hand and, on the other, he couldn't do it alone. There's no shame in that, as many great players haven't won titles. That said, what made AI a luminary is the same thing that makes him the least likely person to be a mentor or a coach. He had his own muse, and he played to it. He didn't seek out or listen to advice or mentoring. So what makes anyone -- especially Collins -- think that he'll like any role where he's not close to being the center of attention.

Wisdom?

Mentoring?

Leadership?

For what purpose?

To what end?

I don't see Allen Iverson in a suit, sitting on a bench, providing advice on plays or guidance about which free agents are appealing. That's not who he is. He's also not a community relations person, not a greeter, not a sideshow.

Old luminaries don't sit anywhere other than front and center.

And, if they cannot do that, they fade away.

At least for a while. . . until they become statesmen and ambassadors, commanding great appearance fees for a few hours worth of work.

AI is not there, not yet.

I'll allow that Doug Collins is being gracious and magnanimous, but perhaps it's along the lines of the big shot saying, "Hey, whenever you're in town, look me up, I'll show you a good time, and I mean it," only to say to his friends or his spouse when the actual offer is taken up, "Sheesh, I can't believe that the guy called me. Now I have to taken him around. What type of boring goofball actually takes up an offer like that?" Then again, Collins is sincere, and I'm sure if he said it, he really means it. He just should be careful what he wishes for.

And so should AI.

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