Basketball icon Allen Iverson announced his retirement from the NBA on Wednesday after 13 seasons.
The announcement came in the form of a statement posted on http://stephena.com, a Web site run by Iverson’s close friend Stephen A. Smith, a basketball analyst and writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“I would like to announce my plans to retire from the National Basketball Association,” Iverson’s statement read.
“I always thought that when I left the game, it would be because I couldn’t help my team the way that I was accustomed to. However, that is not the case.
“I still have tremendous love for the game, the desire to play, and a whole lot left in my tank. I feel strongly that I can still compete at the highest level.”
The tone and timing of Iverson’s opening statement has many sports analysts questioning the permanence of his decision.
The 34-year-old All-Star and 2001 MVP was released by the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 17 after taking an extended leave of absence for personal matters.
He had played just three games with the team this season in a support role from the bench, a position that he was reportedly frustrated about.
So that begs the question: Will one of the NBA’s most iconic figures and greatest scorers—who says in his own statement that he can still compete at the highest level—stay retired if a top team comes knocking on his door with a good offer?
For right now we won’t know; there haven’t been any such reported approaches as of yet.
But regardless, Iverson makes it seem like he wants to turn a new page in his life. It is his love for family—not frustration for playing in a limited role—that he says is driving his decision.
“Stepping away from the game will allow me to spend quality time with my wife and kids,” Iverson said in his statement.
“This is a reward that far exceeds anything that I’ve ever achieved on the basketball court. I have prayed for this day and I see it as my greatest gift.”
Iverson was the No. 1 draft pick in 1996 and was picked up by the Philadelphia 76ers where he won the Rookie of the Year Award.
His career flourished in Philadelphia where he was named the 2001 NBA MVP and led the team to the NBA Finals the same season.
He moved to the Denver Nuggets in 2006 and then the Detroit Pistons in 2008, before ending with the Grizzlies this season.
Iverson has a career scoring average of 27.1 points per game—one of the highest in NBA history.