- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 26, 2009

PHILADELPHIA | Allen Iverson is set to retire from the NBA, according to an online report Wednesday.

Commentator Stephen A. Smith published a statement on his Web site attributed to Iverson. It said Iverson plans to retire but also that “I feel strongly that I can still compete at the highest level.”

The statement also said Iverson has tremendous love for the game and the desire to play.

Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic reported Wednesday night that Iverson has not filed formal retirement papers with the league. The network said on its Web site that Iverson talked with his coach at Georgetown, John Thompson, and the two decided to meet and talk about the guard’s future.

The 10-time All-Star played three games this season with Memphis before taking a leave of absence to attend to personal matters. He was waived after the two sides agreed to part ways.

It was the second straight ugly ending for Iverson, who was unhappy last season playing for the Pistons. He was upset that Detroit coach Michael Curry and Memphis’ Lionel Hollins used the former MVP as a reserve.

The New York Knicks considered signing Iverson last week after he cleared waivers before deciding he would take too much playing time away from younger players they are trying to develop.

One of the NBA’s great scorers, Iverson entered this season with a career average of 27.1 points that ranked fifth all-time.

Yet there was almost no interest in him this summer before he went to the Grizzlies on a one-year deal.

Iverson can still score; he averaged 17.4 points with the Pistons last season. Yet he has made it clear he doesn’t view himself as a backup, which likely hurt his chances of signing with a contending team.

The 6-foot guard thanked former players and coaches in the statement, plus the fans in Memphis and Philadelphia, where he spent his best years. He said stepping away would allow him to spend more time with his wife and kids.

He also said he thought he could still play.

“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,” the statement read. “However, that is not the case.”

The announcement came as a surprise to George Karl, who coached Iverson in Denver.

“I think he still has something left to give some team out there. If that’s his decision, he’ll go down in history, I think, as the greatest little guard ever to play the game of basketball,” Karl said. “I was happy to have him for a couple years, and hopefully our paths will cross. But I have a sneaky feeling that somewhere along the way an injury or a circumstance with a team will open that window back up.”


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