Michael Jordan Once Denied Allen Iverson the Chance to Play
Allen Iverson spent 14 seasons in the NBA, where he rose to become one of the league’s biggest stars. Iverson became an elite-scoring talent that overcame questions about his height to find a great deal of success throughout much of his Hall of Fame career. However, it was the back end of it that continues to draw questions about how it could have unfolded as he struggled to transition into a secondary role. One possibility could have changed the course late in his career as Michael Jordan stepped in to deny the opportunity to play for the then-Charlotte Bobcats.
Allen Iverson’s NBA career downfall
Through his first decade in the league, Allen Iverson had established as a premier talent with an MVP award to his name, multiple All-Star Game appearances, and a trip to the NBA Finals.
However, things fell off the track after he departed from the Philadelphia 76ers. Iverson spent nearly two seasons with the Denver Nuggets before he was shipped to the Detroit Pistons. Iverson didn’t finish that 2008-09 season with the Pistons as it was believed he didn’t want to be benched.
In September 2009, he inked a one-year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, which was short-lived as he played only three games with the franchise due to his displeasure with a bench role. He was cut by the Grizzlies in November and picked up the 76ers.
Iverson didn’t finish the 2009-10 season with the 76ers due to his four-year-old daughter dealing with Kawaski Disease. He did play in the Turkish Super League with the Besiktas for only 10 games and didn’t play another game after that as he announced his retirement in October 2013.
Michael Jordan didn’t allow Allen Iverson to sign with the Bobcats
Allen Iverson was coached by Larry Brown for six seasons after his rookie campaign as the two developed a strong bond that was often tested. Following Brown’s departure from Philadelphia, he bounced around spending his last two-plus seasons in the Charlotte Bobcats.
During that span, Brown attempted to bring aboard as, in August 2009, the team was reportedly considering signing the star point guard. However, Brown revealed in an interview on In Depth with Graham Bensinger that Michael Jordan told him he couldn’t sign Iverson because he would play him over their younger players.
“I wanted to bring him back to Charlotte. Michael [Jordan] had admired Allen [Iverson]. Allen loved Michael. He said ‘Larry if you bring him back you’re going to play him ahead of some of these young kids and it’s going to prohibit our progress.’ And he was right. I was just sick that Allen couldn’t have gone out the right way where people could show their appreciation for him.”
Although it would have been an entertaining reunion for Brown with Iverson, he had a bias toward the All-Star. The fact that he admitted that he would have played him speaks to admiration and connection he had. Jordan holds a great deal of respect for Iverson, but he knew his time had come and passed as a starter.
What could have been for Allen Iverson
Despite that, Allen Iverson put forth a highly productive career that earned him an induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Iverson could have easily extended his career far longer than it had if he swallowed his pride. He was still a capable scorer at the latter stage of his career that could have been a critical piece of a playoff team.
Instead, he elected to stick firm to the stance that he didn’t want to come off the bench. It’s a choice that he hasn’t wavered in his belief on that stance in the years that have passed, but it could have added several more years to his career.