The Memphis Grizzlies come to Oracle Arena on Wednesday night, bringing with them a 1-3 record, a bunch of young talent, an equal ability to score points (107.8 per game) and surrender them (115.8 per contest), and one disgruntled former All-Star.
Allen Iverson, who signed with the Grizzlies this offseason, sat out the entire preseason and the first three games of the regular season for Memphis while recovering from a partial right hamstring tear. He returned Monday night in the Grizzlies’ 127-116 overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings, and came off the bench to play less than 18 minutes. He hit 5-of-9 shots and scored 11 points, but after the game, went straight to the press to complain about his role.
Here’s what Iverson, who has averaged 27.1 points during his career, had to say about the situation:
“Go look at my resume and that will show you that I’m not a sixth man. I don’t think it has anything to do with me being selfish. It’s just who I am. I don’t want to change what gave me all the success that I’ve had since I’ve been in this league.”
This seems like an extremely selfish move by Iverson. I’m not saying Iverson’s wrong. If the Grizzlies wanted to start him over Mike Conley, who has been inconsistent through the first four games, that wouldn’t be a mistake. But to start rocking the boat like this so early in the season, especially when the Grizzlies’ young lineup is playing relatively well together (at least on offense, and it’s not like Iverson would help them improve on defense), can’t help the situation in Memphis. The Grizzlies’ starting lineup is very young and are probably awed by Iverson’s presence in the locker room and on the court. To have him go to the media so soon and start complaining about playing time could really wreak havoc on the chemistry this team has been trying to develop early in the season.
All of this is unfortunate for the Grizzlies, but it could help the Warriors in Wednesday’s game. I don’t know how strong a grip coach Lionel Hollins has on the situation in Memphis, but if he isn’t 100 percent in charge, problems in the locker room could develop quickly and that can spill onto the court immediately. It seems like good timing for the Warriors, who welcome Memphis and their budding dysfunction to Oracle Arena.