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Front Page » November 5, 2009 » Carbon Sports » Looking for the right place to land - conflict in life, s...
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Looking for the right place to land - conflict in life, sports


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

You have to wonder how long Allen Iverson will last with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Everyone I've ever known has had some trouble with someone in their life. Conflict and differences are just part of the human condition. For most people, those individuals with whom they don't see eye to eye number only a few. But for others, it seems, they just can't get along with anyone.

Many years ago, I had a secretary who experienced conflict with everyone in the organization. One day, I tried to sit down with her and show her, through example, and without being confrontational, that the reason she didn't get along with anyone was her fault and not theirs. She just couldn't see it. I had inherited her and she had spent almost 10 years in the department when I came along. Despite the fact she was efficient and did her work, her human relations skills were so bad that I eventually had to recommend she be let go. Instead, she was transferred by the big operation I worked for. After I left employment there, she was moved at least four more times before she finally retired eight years later.

At one point, she was a star with the organization, albeit a troubled one. She had done a lot of good things. Her first boss held onto her despite all the conflict she caused, no matter who she dealt with. I can't help but draw a parallel between my personal experience with her and the saga of Iverson.

Since he was traded from Philadelphia a few years ago, Iverson has bounced around the NBA like a bad pass thrown into the upper bleachers of a two story field house. His storied and stormy relationship with the 76ers front office in the 10 years he was an all star and the league's top scorer for many of those seasons, is legend. From 1996-2006, everyone expected the 76ers to win a championship. A series of other big stars that should have put together championship seasons passed through the team during those years, but the NBA trophy never resided in the city of brotherly love during those seasons.

Iverson, somehow, through all the wars with management and other players, managed to stay around Philadelphia. I think the ownership just kept hoping that someday he would grow up. It also didn't help that he had a coach most of that time in Larry Brown (no homesteader in one place himself) who seemed to love Iverson like a son some days and hate him like he was the anti-Christ on others. Finally, three years ago, Philadelphia had enough and traded him to Denver for more minor, but better- mannered stars. The Nuggets, always a team to take a chance, must have thought the higher altitude would change AI's mind set. But he once again ran into trouble with others, mainly because you can't play the game legally with five basketballs. As proven by his coaching track record, no one likes offense more than Nuggets' coach George Karl, but Iverson was just offensive. Last November, the Nuggets loaded the gun and shot Iverson back toward the east coast, but the shell only landed halfway across the continent, with AI ending up in Detroit.

AI didn't even last a year there. This year, he is a team member on the Memphis Grizzlies. He started this illustrious season with not only an injury, but on Monday night, a complaint about his role as a sixth man. He said people should look at his resume, because coming off the bench doesn't fit him and that being a starter and the star of the team is "just who I am."

Grizzlies' general manager Chris Wallace has his hands full now. Although he is only stuck with AI for a year (a "who I am" $3.5 million contract), it will be interesting to see what the heir apparent GM to Jerry West will put up with.

AI doesn't have much career time left. He turned 34 in June. As we all know, even the best of players (those that play their guts out and get along with other people) don't usually last much longer than that. The number of other teams who will take a chance on him is only a guess.I hope, once it is over, no one ever thinks of hiring him as a coach. On the other hand, just think how entertaining that would be.

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November 5, 2009
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