Allen Iverson’s first game in Europe is in the books – a disappointing 94-91 loss for his Beşiktaş Cola Turka, which blew a 17-point lead against KK Hemofarm Stada – and while not even the worst offenders of crimes against hyperbole in sportswriting are ready to ascribe any superlatives to Mr. Answer and his new team, one didn’t have to squint too hard while watching to imagine some glorious possibilities … or to dream up a disaster.
The optimistic angel on one of BallinEurope’s shoulders naturally saw things in diametric opposition to the demon on the other. The debate in turn centered on topics like the following.
• Iverson started but didn’t score until the second quarter.
Optimist: Hey, after going oh for three to start, the man ended up a respectable 4-of-7 from the floor to contribute 15 points. Plus, look at that first bucket: A.I. may have lost the proverbial step, but he’s still got some game left.
Pessimist: May have lost a step? “May” implies some sort of question is involved; why do you think no NBA or even Euroleague squad took a flier on him for 2010-11? It can’t all be about attitude can it? Plus, for a slasher like Iverson who creates with the ball, losing half a step might as well be losing a mile. Interestingly enough, take a look about 18 seconds into the second video embed below for Chatman – himself a fearless Iversonian-like driver – showing how it’s more commonly done in Europe: straight ahead through a soft pick along the perimeter of the lane. He misses the shot, but hey.
Optimist: A shot Iverson himself’ll be making, come January.
Pessimist: Is that January 2001? Will time travel be involved?
• But skills were still in evidence.
Optimist: Aside from grabbing three good defensive rebounds, Iverson appeared to come alive in the fourth quarter, nailing a long three and almost coming up with the key steal of the game (see about 30 seconds in on the video below).
Pessimist: The key word there: “almost.” Sure, if Iverson had somehow gained control of the slapped-away pass from Milivoje Bozovic, who really shouldn’t have been out at the point anyway, he might have sealed the deal and thus prevent the Hemofarm win. But one could only argue that Iverson was in position to make that particular play only because of his half-baked defense; but more on that below.
• Iverson’s okay interaction with teammates.
Pessimist: Wait, you’re going to start with an “all things considered” here, right?
Optimist: All things considered, Beşiktaş backers had to be thrilled that Iverson wasn’t completely disharmonious with a bunch of guys he met maybe a week ago. A.I.’s best play in Optimist BiE’s opinion? His first stat: The feed to Serhat Cetin for two on the early breakaway. Plus, the perimeter passing looked amazing at times.
Pessimist: Very brief times. Plus, Pessimist BiE just can’t help but continue worrying that Chatman’s touches are going to decrease. He definitely saw the ball less often in the Hemofarm game, particularly in the first half as so many plays went through the untested Iverson.
Optimist: But you gotta admit that the Chatman-Iverson duo might be something to see; and with so much going on outside, A.J. Oglivy was able to dominate the paint in ways that surely had him recalling youth ball with Team Australia.
Pessimist: Yeah, like Beşiktaş is gonna get a 20/12 every night out of A.J. Oglivy.
Optimist: Don’t be fatuous, Pessimist BiE.
• Beşiktaş blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead and an 11-point lead with 3-1/2 minutes left.
Pessimist: Surely not even Optimist BiE can put a positive spin on this result. After leading throughout while simultaneously acclimatizing Iverson (and to some extent Chatman), Beşiktaş fans were suddenly stunned to realize that their side’s insurmountable lead had disappeared quicker than A.I. out of Memphis; see the picture-worth-1000-words shot of horror at 5.10 in the below video.
And while Optimist BiE will surely point out that Iverson was good for six points – Beşiktaş’ last six points during the monumental collapse, in fact – he also contributed an unnecessary foul plus one embarrassing turnover (see at just about 4.00 into the video below) that might’ve been Beşiktaş’ last gasp.
Watching the final run by Hemofarm also shows Iverson’s rustiness on the defensive end in this crucial period. Already forced into mismatches in man-to-man thanks to the greatly superior size of the Serbian side, Iverson played well too far off his man consistently, a tendency that haunted him and Beşiktaş in this final 3-1/2 minutes as Hemofarm picked and chose shots thanks to unmolested passing routes outside. You can’t blame many basketball losses on one guy, but Iverson did undeniably contribute to this loss.
Optimist: If this is as bad as it gets in Allen Iverson’s European Adventure, Beşiktaş fans have lots to be happy about; however, the new-look Eagles have got to jell quickly with a 0-1 start in a tough Eurocup group and a still-competitive 3-2 record in TBL ball. Plus, don’t forget that Beşiktaş already has the second-highest scoring offense in Turkey: This scheme is so crazy it just might work.
Pessimist: Ah, your momma’s got Ricky Rubio on her fantasy team…