Garnett and Iverson, Committed or Crazy?
As training camp begins for most teams in the NBA today, the two most compelling figures are Kevin Garnett and Allen Iverson, the titleless superstars with the longest tenures with the same team in the NBA. I have to give Garnett and Iverson credit for constantly expressing their loyalties to their respective teams, Minnesota and Philadelphia. But at what point does this marriage hold back both Garnett, Iverson and their respective teams? The fact remains that for all of their immense talents, all-star appearances, league's most valuable player trophies and megamillions, Garnett and Iverson haven't been able to lift their teams out of mediocrity in recent years.
Garnett has only won two playoff series in 11 seasons in Minnesota and the Timberwolves have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons after advancing to the Western Conference Finals. For all of Iverson's dazzling scoring displays, Philadelphia has been in a steady decline since he led them to the Finals in 2001 and the 76ers have missed the playoffs in two of the past three seasons. So, what are the respective parties really getting out of this agreement? And when is it time to cut your losses -- they'll keep adding up otherwise -- and move on.
Garnett and Iverson are not going to win a title any time soon -- unless they are traded. Of the two, Garnett sounds the most ready to make a change if things turn sour. The Timberwolves went 33-49 last season and Garnett seemed to age in dog years, the stress and strain of each loss moving him closer to getting some Botox. This summer, Garnett said the "clock is ticking" on the Timberwolves and yesterday, he left another message for Minnesota, telling reporters: "I've always said that as long as this team is trying to win and going in the right direction, I'm going to be here. My goal is to win. Not anything short of that. When I feel like the organization is going in another direction, then it's probably time for me to move on." The Timberwolves didn't do much more than draft Randy Foye and signed Mike James in free agency, which doesn't sound like enough to crack the top eight in the Western Conference.
The situation in Philadelphia appears to be just as bad, if not worse, because the 76ers were stuck in neutral this summer after their attempts to deal Iverson proved fruitless. Despite the failings of the 76ers, Iverson sounds upset that he could be moved and last Friday, he expressed his desire to remain in Philadelphia "until the wheels fall off."
Both players say they want to win championships and stay with their respective teams. But that's not going to happen. So what are they gaining for their loyalty? More misery and more questions about when they will be in another destination. Is it better to be like Reggie Miller and spend your entire career with the same team and wind up with nothing? Or is it better to pull a Clyde Drexler and stick around with the same team for a long time (Portland) then hop on the hot squad (Houston) to win a championship ring? I'm sure Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing would take the ring at any cost and I'm sure that the supposed desire of Garnett and Iverson to win a title will consume before all is said and done. It will be interesting to see if they will be in the same place this time next year.
October 3, 2006; 1:50 PM ET
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