Lori Shepler, Associated Press
On Wednesday, Allen Iverson supposedly was retiring. By Thursday, the backpedaling already had begun.
By Thursday, the backpedaling already had begun — including a radio report from ESPN 980 AM in Washington, D.C., that Iverson's college coach at Georgetown University, John Thompson, said the veteran guard wasn't retiring.
The flip-flop, if it's indeed that, should come as no great surprise to many with the Jazz who were skeptical anyway that the 10-time All-Star had played his last NBA game.
"I think if he gets another opportunity, he'll play again," said Utah shooting guard Kyle Korver, a former teammate with Iverson in Philadelphia.
"He probably feels like ... he can help somebody," point guard Deron Williams added Thursday. "You know, I know he can still play. I think everybody knows he can still play the game. It's just the fact of finding him the right team and the right fit."
Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer was a teammate with Iverson on Team USA's 2004 Olympic squad.
"I saw some of the statements that he said — saying that he had a lot of passion for this game, still have a lot left in the tank," Boozer said. "Quotes like that — for me, I hope he comes back just to see him play again.
"He's one of the talents that you only get to see once every once in a while," the two-time All-Star added. "So as a fan of basketball, I hope to see him come back."
And if it does turn out that Iverson's played his last game — he agreed to a buyout agreement with Memphis after playing just three games for the Grizzlies this season, then had a potential deal with New York fail to materialize — his legacy should be long-lasting.
Iverson was the NBA's Rookie of the Year in 1997 and its MVP in 2001.
He led the league in scoring four times and averaged 29.7 points in postseason play, second only to Michael Jordan. He took Philly to the 2001 NBA Finals.
But — like a certain two from Utah, John Stockton and Karl Malone — he never did lead his team to an NBA title.
"He's one of the greatest scorers to ever play the game," Williams said. "I mean, he's one of those unfortunate guys that had a great career but didn't win a championship — but there were a lot of those."
"A.I. is one of the best players who ever played the game. ... He's was one of the people that transcended the game," Boozer added. "A lot of guys who shoot today learned a lot of moves from AI watching him, growing up as a kid. It's sad to see him go. ... (Iverson) played with heart with everybody, didn't mind getting bumped around and getting back up."
Iverson's grit is one of the traits Jazz coach Jerry Sloan admires most.
"I think he's a tough guy," Sloan said. "I thought he's a great layup shooter.
"John (Stockton) was a great layup shooter, and so was he. ... A lot of guys can take them, but to make them is the big thing."
Korver got to witness it all first hand during his stay with the 76ers, and said Iverson was "a good teammate" during their three-plus seasons together.
"If he respected you, he had your back," Korver said. "He was very loyal.
"I think everyone's gonna respect how he played, and how hard he played," the ex-Sixer added. "He's regarded as one of the best point guards, or guards, of all-time. He's a great competitor, and always wanted to win."
It's only practice that Iverson has a well-chronicled aversion to, and that — no matter how much grit he may have — is something Sloan can't seems to overlook.
"I'm kind of old-fashioned," the longtime Jazz coach said. "I've always felt like practice was good for your team. It may not be good for you, but it's good for your team."
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