NEW YORK (AP) - LeBron James and Chris Bosh headed for South Beach, while Amare Stoudemire decided to star on Broadway.
“My whole thing was being wanted, being accepted by a ballclub. That was the most important thing,” the former NBA MVP said Friday, after signing a $4 million, two-year contract with Turkish club Besiktas during a news conference at the upscale St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan.
“I had a great time playing in the NBA. Who knows if I ever will again?” Iverson said. “But I wanted to show everybody I can play at a high level, not just the NBA.”
The 11-time All-Star waited all offseason for an NBA team to come calling, though none ever did. So while the Miami Heat stocked up with star power, and the Knicks added some front-line muscle, Iverson told his manager, Gary Moore, to begin looking at other leagues.
He ultimately decided the Istanbul-based club was the best fit.
Iverson is 17th on the NBA’s career scoring list with 24,368 points, winning the MVP in 2001 when he led the Sixers to the finals. He spent 10 seasons in Philadelphia before bouncing through Denver and Detroit, ending up in Memphis last season.
He only played three games before returning for a second stint with the Sixers, where he averaged 13.9 points in 25 games. He took a leave of absence toward the end of the season to deal with some family matters, which he said Thursday have been resolved.
“If those situations weren’t better at this point in time, there’s no way I would have made this decision,” he said. “It was hard the last couple years to concentrate on basketball.”
Iverson mostly blamed himself that no NBA teams were willing to give him a shot.
One of the most instinctive scoring guards in league history, Iverson’s prolific talent was offset by numerous run-ins with coaches and team officials, including his infamous “We’re talking about practice” diatribe directed toward former Sixers coach Larry Brown. He’s also had several legal problems that landed him on probation.
“A lot of not being on an NBA roster is my fault,” Iverson said. “I made a lot of mistakes in my life that I’m not proud of, but I have to move on.”
Wearing a black New York Yankees cap and decked out in diamonds Thursday, Iverson almost seemed to be forcing a smile as he held up a Besiktas jersey along with team owner Yildirim Demiroren and executive board member Seref Yalcin. Dozens of members of the Turkish media took photographs while Turkish music pounded inside the small hotel ballroom.
Just about the only thing familiar was the No. 3 on the jersey.