Iverson Retiring? Not So Fast, Says Manager

Needing surgery, former Sixers star returning to America


Allen Iverson, arguably that greatest small guard in recent NBA history, could have taken his final shot. But his manager is denying that Iverson is retiring but instead is getting surgery so he can return from a painful injury.

A.I., who has spent this season playing in basic obscurity in Istanbul, Turkey, is going to have surgery in the U.S. to remove a lesion on his right leg.

Originally it was reported that "the Answer" wouldn’t likely return to his current team Besiktas Cola after getting the procedure done, reports Turkish site Ajanspor.

Hoopsworld.com tried to decipher the Turkish-language report:

“Leaving the basketball world makes me sad but, sometimes, we have to accept things like they are,” Iverson said Tuesday. “I can say goodbye to basketball.”

But, A.I.'s manager Gary Moore told the AP that he talked to his client and that A.I. plans to return to Turkey in time for the playoffs. Moore also "totally disputes" any talk of retirement.

Iverson has a lesion that is pressing up against the bones of his leg and requires surgery in the U.S. but that no timetable for the surgery was made, Moore said.

A.I.'s current team said that Iverson would have an MRI this week to determine what should be done.

"It has to be removed and tested to see if it's benign or not," Moore said by phone. "Once that's removed, Allen is going to look to rehabilitate his leg because the doctors tell him he'll be out four to six weeks, He's hoping to be able to play in the playoffs.

"This is the most pain he's ever felt from any injury he's had," Moore said. "He's been in tremendous agony."

The 35-year-old former Sixers star was only playing overseas in the first place because no NBA team would take a shot at signing him during the off-season despite his remarkable career.

On the court “the Answer” was brilliant as he overcame small stature and injuries to become the biggest draw in the NBA selling out nearly any stadium the Sixers played through the first part of this decade. He was named to 11-straight All-Star Games, sits No. 22 on the All-Time scoring list (24,368) and earned a league MVP while leading the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals.

Should Iverson officially hang it up, though, he would likely be remembered as much for what he did off the court as on it.

His rant on “practice” remains a part of sports lore and his propensity for T.G.I. Fridays is well known -- and seemed to continue even in Turkey, according to a recent Philly Magazine article.

But he also dealt with demons in his personal life as came out following his short-lived second act in Philly.

Iverson looked like a shell of himself last season as he battled family issues and injuries in his second stint with the Sixers. After playing just 25 games he left the 76ers to tend to family issues including caring for his sick daughter. But after he left the problems seemed to become magnified as reports surfaced of his alcohol and gambling issues and his wife filed for divorce.

Iverson wound up inking a two-year, $4 million deal to play in Turkey. His arrival made headlines as fans swarmed the airport to welcome A.I. to Istanbul.

But, he looked like only a shell of his former 30-point-a-night self while playing in just 10 games for Besiktas as he averaged only 12.8 points and 4.2 assists in about 30 minutes per game.

Iverson doesn't seem ready to close the door on his basketball career so don't surprised if there is enough gas left in the tank for one more return.

"People need to know that Allen is and always has been a fighter," Moore said. "He's got a battle ahead of him."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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