With no teams showing interest, the NBA great opted to hang up his sneakers. He released a statement, via former ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith’s website (StephenA.com), explaining.
“I would like to announce my plans to retire from the National Basketball Association,” Iverson said in the statement. “I always thought that when I left the game, it would be because I couldn’t help my team the way that I was accustomed to. However, that is not the case.”
While it seems like an official retirement, A.I. revealed he may not be fully ready, especially since his drive and love for the sport is still there.
“I still have tremendous love for the game, the desire to play, and a whole lot left in my tank,” the statement continued. “I feel strongly that I can still compete at the highest level.”
This season, Iverson played just three games with Memphis before taking a leave of absence to deal with personal matters, then was waived by the Grizzlies after he and the team agreed to part ways. It’s said the NBA veteran was unhappy with the reserve role he was given by with Memphis, the same problem he had when he played for Detroit the season before.
While it looked like he may be headed to the New York Knicks, the team opted to pass and focus on the development of their younger, up-and-coming crop of players.
The news surprised many of his peers around the league, who had nothing but good things to say about Iverson, including his former Denver Nuggets coach, George Karl who acknowledged his greatness on the court.
“He’ll go down in history as the greatest little guard ever to play the game,” said Karl
“His legacy would be huge,” adds Cavaliers star LeBron James. “He’s one of the best guys, when you’re talking guys 6-foot and under, to play the game of basketball. What he’s done individually — he played injured, he played hard every single night — I don’t think it should end this way if he’s done.
“But at the same time if he does, he’s left some great games behind. His name will live forever in the game of basketball,” James continued.
Iverson says he plans to devote more time to his family, while thanking NBA greats, Reebok and others.
“Stepping away from the game will allow me to spend quality time with my wife and kids,” said A.I. “This is a reward that far exceeds anything that I’ve ever achieved on the basketball court. I have prayed for this day and I see it as my greatest gift.”
“I want to first acknowledge my fans everywhere, who have been with me throughout my entire career,” he continued. “Without you, there would be no me. You should all know that I appreciate your support from the bottom of my heart. Thank you!
“To Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Charles Barkley and Larry Bird, you guys gave me the vision to play the game that will be forever in my heart.”