A.I. never adapted. And while “me against the world” is admirable when it truly is you against the world, at some point you have to realize that you have four other guys with you, on your side, against the world. And they’re not interested in fighting your fight. They’re interested in winning the game.
And that hurts. Iverson accomplished quite a bit, but I’ll never shake the feeling that so much was left unaccomplished. That he could have learned so much and contributed so much to this game had he not decided to essentially flatline in his early 20s.
You know when I knew it was over?
Two years ago, the Nuggets are in a late season fight with the Warriors for the last playoff spot. Every single game matters. Every possession is life and death. The Nuggets are at home against the Kings. There’s a Kings turnover and Iverson gets the ball on the right baseline at half court on the break. Kleiza is sprinting down the left side, he’s also ungaurded, wide open, and has 20+ points. If Iverson passes to him, it’s an easy two. He does not. He elects instead to try and force his way into traffic with two defenders guarding him, then waits for Carmelo Anthony to catch up, who is also being defended. Carmelo misses the layup. The Kings run the break and score at the other end.
It’s not just that he failed to pass to Kleiza, which looked very much like a decision and not a matter of failing to see him. It’s that it flies in what is such an instinctive and simple decision: pass to the open guy whose closest to the basket. I’m not going to say I pity Iverson, because I honestly don’t believe he thinks he should have done anything different. He make the choice to do things his way. And he never wavered. If you make that choice, you live with the consequences, but never have to say you wavered.