HAMPTON—Following a news conference Tuesday in which he detailed his charity and celebrity events on the Peninsula this week, 10-time NBA all-star Allen Iverson spent a few moments with the Daily Press talking about his basketball future.
Iverson, 34, is a free agent for the first time. He played 10-plus seasons in Philadelphia, most of two in Denver and one in Detroit. He hopes his next team is his last.
Here is an edited transcript of our conversation:
Question: Do you need to play for a contender? Memphis, for instance, has been mentioned, and they've struggled.
Answer: Any place interests me. … You know me. You've known me throughout my whole career. You know what my confidence level is as far as what I can do on the basketball court and how I can make a team better. That's why any situation interests me. I don't feel like I could go to a team and not make them better.
When they talk about certain teams, I think in my head about the roster, think where I would fit in, think about the better players they have, and I think about success. I don't have negative energy with me. I feel like if I'm on the court with four guys, we can get it done.
Q: You mentioned that you didn't want to take a shot at Michael Curry and that the Pistons firing him (as coach) said what needed to be said. When you look at next season, how much will the coach play into it? Because you've been most successful with established coaches (Larry Brown in Philadelphia and John Thompson at Georgetown).
A: Big-time. That will have a lot to do with it. I feel like as long as I'm with a coach … who is strong-willed and can get people to be successful, it doesn't matter if he's been a coach for one year, two years, three years. He can be legendary like Larry Brown, Phil Jackson or not. If he's a good coach and knows how to get guys to perform at a certain level every night, I'll be fine with it.
Q: You're 34 …
A: (Laughing) Forty-four to hear y'all tell it.
Q: I'm older than that.
A: You ain't playing basketball, though.
Q: You said hopefully the next stop is a place you can retire. How many years do you think you might have left?
A: I used to say that I didn't want to go over 40. I see young guys emulating the way I play … and I used to think it would be weird to be 40 years old and doing the things I do. You can't be 40 years old still trying to cross people over and stuff like that. …
But the one thing God gave me is the stamina to be able to run all day, as far as being a freak of nature. My teammates always say that about me. I honestly feel like I'm not slowing down. I'm just thinking I don't want to go past 40. I'll push it to the limit. I hope God gives me six more good years.
Q: You've been wealthy since you first came into the league. You're going to have to take a pay cut (Iverson made more than $21 million last season and might have to settle for the salary-cap veteran's exception of
$2 million). How big a deal will money be?
A: Man, if money is a concern to me at this point in my life, after all that I've made, then I've got a problem. So that's not going to be a big deal. The biggest deal is going to be being happy. That's it. … In Denver I was happy all the way through, but that was what, two years? I'm talking about a steady diet of happiness all the way through. That's all I want at this point in my career.
Obviously I want a championship, but I don't care about statistics anymore like I did when I was younger. I don't care about All-Star games. I don't care about scoring titles, MVPs, none of that. I just want to play basketball, be effective and be happy. Be a great teammate. I don't even care about being dominant on the court like I used to be. I don't have any more individual goals. I've done basically everything you can do in a basketball game.
Q: You seem to get along well with Carmelo Anthony and (coach) George Karl in Denver. Did it torque you off when people said, "Look at the Nuggets. They traded Iverson for Chauncey Billups, and now they're in the Western Conference finals"?
A: Last year we didn't have a healthy Nene. It was a different situation. And that's taking nothing away from Chauncey Billups. I love him, he's a great basketball player, he's a friend of mine. … Maybe I wasn't that fit. They won 53, 54 games this year (actually 54) in the regular season? When I was there (in 2007-08), we won 50.
We played well, we did a lot of positive things. But they were a better team with Chauncey obviously. Is Chauncey a better player than me? I wouldn't say that. And I'm sure he wouldn't say that I'm a better player than him. It's just a different situation.
I was happy to see it, just the fact that I almost got to see Melo accomplish what I wanted him to accomplish. And Kenyon (Martin) and Nene. Guys that were great friends of mine when I was there. I don't think that was a knock on me. But I knew that was going to happen. I knew people would say that.