Weary of uprooting his wife and their children, Iverson hopes for a long-term deal that will carry him to retirement. But that may be too much to ask for someone labeled, fairly or not, as a player whose once-extraordinary offense no longer trumps his suspect defense.
That reputation was most forged during his one season with Detroit, where the Pistons endured their worst regular season in eight years and parted with Iverson prior to the playoffs. Iverson never meshed with established stars such as Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace, and he averaged career-lows of 17.4 points (nearly 10 below his career average) and 36.5 minutes.
"My shoulder's hurting right now because of the chip I have," Iverson said. "I can't wait" to prove critics wrong.
Iverson dismissed the notion of settling for limited playing time.
"Me playing 15 to 20 minutes a game? I might as well just stay home and play with my son for 15 or 20 minutes," he said.
The idea of accepting a reserve's role also irked Iverson.
"You earn it," he said of a starting position. "I'll go to (training) camp, and may the best man win. … I'm not losing that battle."
Coincidentally, the man who selected Iverson with the first pick of the 1996 NBA draft was in Hampton on Tuesday, and he echoed Iverson.
"My gut feeling is that he could understand not being a starter if he really believed the two guys in the backcourt ahead of him are better than he is," said former Sixers general manager and current Radford coach Brad Greenberg. "But if he has any doubt, I don't think he could accept it. He's got so much confidence in himself. … He might not think there's a team in the league with two (guards) better than him."
Indeed, Iverson probably doesn't. But he acknowledged being "young and dumb" in Philadelphia, where his clashes with Larry Brown made for irresistible tabloid fodder.
Brown and Iverson also carried the Sixers to the Finals, and Brown, now coaching Charlotte, has said he'd love to reunite with Iverson.
"That would be like the perfect (career) ending," Iverson said, "me and Coach Brown winning a championship together."
The perfect ending Tuesday was Iverson describing his motivation for bankrolling scholarships and conducting a camp that includes sessions on gang awareness and character-building.
"I went through my ups and downs," he said. "I know how hard life is. … I felt it was time for me to come back home, and make my presence felt … time to show my face and give back."
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime