In Part 2 of this series, we will start to look at the history of which position Allen Iverson has played, year by year. We will focus in this part on the earliest years, the high school years. We will eventually review the entire history, including a fascinating look at what happened with Team USA at the 2004 summer Olympics, with none other than Larry Brown calling the shots for Team USA, and none other than Allen Iverson not playing point guard for Brown, as usual.
HISTORY OF ALLEN IVERSON’S DESIGNATED POSITIONS IN FULL SEASONS
Year, Team, Coach, & Iverson’s Position
1992-93 Bethel High Junior, Mike Bailey, Point Guard
1993-94 Bethel High Senior, Mike Bailey, Point Guard
1994-95 Georgetown University Freshman, John Thompson, Point Guard
1995-96 Georgetown University Sophomore, John Thompson, Point Guard
1996-97 Philadelphia 76’ers, Johnny Davis, Point Guard
1997-98 Philadelphia 76’ers, Larry Brown, Point Guard
1998-99 Philadelphia 76’ers, Larry Brown, Shooting Guard
1999-00 Philadelphia 76’ers, Larry Brown, Shooting Guard
2000-01 Philadelphia 76’ers, Larry Brown, Shooting Guard
2001-02 Philadelphia 76’ers, Larry Brown, Shooting Guard
2002-03 Philadelphia 76’ers, Larry Brown, Shooting Guard
2003-04 Philadelphia 76’ers, Randy Ayers and Chris Ford, Shooting Guard
2004-05 Philadelphia 76’ers, Jim O’Brien, Point Guard
2005-06 Philadelphia 76’ers Maurice Cheeks, Point Guard and Shooting Guard
2006-07 Denver Nuggets, George Karl, Shooting Guard
2007-08 Denver Nuggets, George Karl, Shooting Guard
2008-09 Detroit Pistons, Michael Curry, Point Guard and Shooting Guard
HISTORY OF IVERSON’S DESIGNATED POSITIONS IN SPECIAL GAMES
ALL STAR GAMES
2000 Point Guard
2001 Point Guard
2002 Point Guard
2003 Point Guard
2004 Point Guard
2005 Point Guard
2006 Point Guard
2007 Point Guard
2008 Point Guard
2009 Point Guard
All-Star Games: Point Guard Iverson was named the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference in the NBA All-Star Game for seven consecutive seasons
US OLYMPICS TEAM
2004 Olympics Team: Shooting Guard
CAN NOT RUN THE OFFENSE?
Sometimes, those who claim that Iverson can not play the point guard position give the reason that he “can not run the offense.” They claim that he is so aggressive at possessing and scoring the ball, that he would never give himself enough space in his game to run the point effectively. Added to this is the implied rap that Iverson is not intelligent enough in general, or at least not intelligent enough to see the forest instead of just the trees in basketball games.
While watching Iverson at Denver, I have seen the opposite. I have seen him attempt 3-point shots when the Nuggets were striking out from long range and getting killed by the other team in this skill alone. I have seen him do his fade-away jumpers when the refs are not calling all the fouls and seen him pound it inside over and over when they are calling most of the fouls. I have seen him in many games, especially recently, maneuver between the two guard positions like a cat maneuvers in a high place, keeping perfect balance lest he fall to the ground or, in Iverson’s case, lest he err on the side of two much shooting or too much passing. Since Iverson can play both positions at once extremely well, how much sense does it make to claim that Iverson could not play the PG position very well if he were the designated PG? It makes no sense whatsoever. It is a garbage type of argument.
To say that Iverson can’t properly play the PG position for any reason is dubious, but to say he can’t play the position because he “can not run an offense” is especially lacking in validity. The side which has been brainwashed by Larry Brown and George Karl playing A.I. at the SG position over many years into thinking that Iverson can not play the point frequently uses this vague expression “ability to run an offense,” which is never defined. What exactly do they mean by that? I am afraid that it’s one of those flashy lines that doesn’t really have any meaning. Do they mean that Iverson doesn’t run an offense the way they think it should be run? I think that is it, but lord knows that for every point guard, from Eric Snow to Chris Paul, there is a way to run an offense, and you will be lucky if one or tow point guards in the NBA at any given time closely match your idea of a point guard who knows how to run an offense the way you think they should run one.
In other words, everyone claiming that Iverson "can not run an offense" would be arguing all the time about half the actual point guards as to whether or not they can "run an offense".
Broadly but accurately and crucially speaking, basketball coaches must in most cases pick the best guard on the team who can play PG to play that position, which can easily be about half again more important than the SG position for many rosters. Once they have done that, they next have to choose offensive strategies and tactics that make the best use of the skills and talents of the starting five and of two or three key bench players in general, and of the starting PG in particular. If you have a high scoring PG as your starter, you set up plays that make it easier for him to score. If you have a low scoring PG, you set up very few plays where he is the scorer, and more where other players are the scorers.
It is really not that complicated, but when a Coach like George Karl comes along, who doesn’t think you have to choose the best guard who can play PG as the PG, and who doesn’t think strategies and tactics have much value, you can fall into the trap of thinking that this stuff is more complicated than it is if you are not careful. For those who don’t know what they are doing, relatively simple things can easily get annoyingly difficult surprisingly quickly.
There are many ways to run an offense, and many types of point guards to run the numerous ways. This year, Chris Paul of the Hornets is proving, as other high scoring PGs before him have proved, that it is irrational to think that a high scoring PG makes it impossible or even very difficult to have a well run offense. The Hornets are 7th in pace-adjusted offense, while the Nuggets are only 11th. By the way, the Nuggets were 15th a week ago, but after a week of Iverson playing both positions at once, and playing PG at least as much as Anthony Carter, they have moved up four notches. The more Iverson decides to play more like a PG and less like a SG, the better the Nuggets offense is.
ALLEN IVERSON IN HIGH SCHOOL: THE ULTIMATE SPORTS LEGEND
Iverson went to Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia. Bethel is famous for the NBA superstar having attended there. In his junior year at Bethel High, Allen Iverson became an all-time legendary high school athlete. There was no stopping him in TWO sports.
In the fall of his junior year at Bethel, Iverson was the starting quarterback for the football team. That team won the State Championship. Aside from being the starting quarterback, Iverson played in the defensive secondary as needed, and he also returned kickoffs and punts. So aside from mostly quarterbacking Bethel High School's football team to the state championship title, he also played 5 different positions to help his team get to the State Championship: Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Safety, Running Back, and Special Teams Punt and Kick Returner.
Shortly after Bethel won the Division 5 state football championship in 1992, Iverson made a bold prediction. He had been the star quarterback and defensive back for the Bruins' football team. Now he was saying Bethel would win the state championship in basketball, too.
Here's part of the description when the Daily Press named Iverson its football player of the year:
"Iverson the quarterback passed for 1,423 yards with 14 touchdowns. Iverson the runner gained 781 yards with 15 touchdowns. Iverson the kick returner scored five touchdowns, four on punts. Iverson the defensive back intercepted eight passes."
Three months later, Iverson completed his double. Bethel won the Group AAA state championship and Iverson turned in the greatest year ever by a Group AAA player by averaging 31.6 points a game.
And here's part of the description when the Daily Press paper gave him the same honor for basketball:
"Maybe the nation's best high school point guard, the first team Parade All-American led the Bruins to their first state, Eastern Region and Peninsula District titles. ... He is at the top of the list when players having the complete package of skills are discussed. He has explosive quickness, great leaping ability and NBA 3-point shooting range."
So astoundingly, later in that same year the football team he led won it all, Allen Iverson at the point guard position did in real life fact lead the basketball team to a 28-3 record, a ranking of 25th among all high school basketball teams in the USA Today newspaper, and to earning the Virginia AAA State Championship, the highest honor that a high school basketball team in Virginia can get.
In summary, in the very same year, Iverson ran and led both his basketball team and his football team, and not one but both of those teams won the State Championship! Iverson was beyond good and put up dream numbers in both sports. The Associated Press named Iverson the Group AAA player of the year in both sports.
Iverson's high school junior year is more impressive than Carmelo Anthony leading his team to winning the NCAA Championship in his one year at Syracuse University. The fact is that Iverson ran both his basketball and his football team so well, that both of them won everything you can possibly win.
THERE MAY NEVER BE ANOTHER 2-SPORT LEGEND
Given the ever increasing amounts of money available to pro athletes, Iverson may be about the last dual sport star, because fewer and fewer are willing to divert any of their efforts into a second sport, which reduces the amount of time available for developing the main sport, and which therefore reduces the odds that the athlete will become a pro in the main sport. So there won't even be hardly any candidates to match Iverson's junior year in high school, let alone actual athletes who can star in two sports and lead two teams to state championships.
LARRY BROWN AND GEORGE KARL DID NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS
How many people know this Iverson history? Very, very few know of it, and that’s how Larry Brown and George Karl like it. They don’t want you to know about this, because they don’t want anyone second guessing their theory that Iverson could never be all that great at running his teams in the NBA. Once Larry Brown and, by extension, George Karl had decided that an NBA team is just too complicated for little old Allen Iverson to operate, they used the obvious fact that he likes to score to partially mothball his skills by putting him in the shooting guard position. But this position is considered by most coaches to be the spot where you put guards who do not have the kinds of passing and offense running skills that Iverson demonstrated to such a high degree in his early years, and that he still demonstrates to this day while he continuously plays both guard positions at once, to one extent or another.
An impressive list of players have been coached by Mike Bailey. Allen Iverson (Georgetown) headlines a list of nine that went on to play Division I basketball. Others include Tony Rutland (Wake Forest University), Chevy Troutman (University of Pittsburgh), Corey Stewart (University of Virginia & UNC-Wilmington), Chris Jackson (College of Charleston), Taurance Johnson (Florida International), Aaron Sunderland (Cal-State Fullerton), Tahric Gosley (Cleveland State) and Cassin Diggs (University of Pittsburgh).
MIKE BAILEY’S HEAD COACHING EXPERIENCE:
1997 - 2004 Williamsport Area High School in Williamsport, PA
Elite Eight Finish in 2002 Final Record 23 - 7
Elite Eight Finish in 2001 Final Record 27 - 2
Elite Eight Finish in 2000 Final Record 23 - 7
PENNSYLVANIA AAAA STATE CHAMPS in 1999
Final Record 29 - 2 / National Ranking 20th, USA TODAY
Final Overall Record 137 - 32
1994 - 1997 Tullahoma High School in Tullahoma, Tennessee
1985 - 1994 Bethel High School in Hampton, VA
VIRGINIA AAA STATE CHAMPS in 1993
Final Record 28 - 3 / National Ranking 25th, USA TODAY
1979 - 1985 Delaware Valley High School in Milford, PA
MIKE BAILEY’S COACHING HONORS:
* Born 2 Run Pennsylvania Coach (Pennsylvania vs. USA) in 2000
* Pennsylvania Big School Coach of the Year in 1999
* Selected to the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1999
* East Coach (Virginia High School League All-Star Game) in 1993
MIKE BAILEY PLAYERS WHO WERE ALL-STATE SELECTIONS:
* Darrell Blackman, 2003 Second Team, 2002 First Team
* Ayyub Ali, 2001 Second Team
* Chevy Troutman, 2000 First Team, 1999 First Team
* Tony Rutland, 1994 First Team
* Allen Iverson, 1993 First Team
MIKE BAILEY PLAYERS WHO WERE NIKE TOP 100 ALL-AMERICAN CAMP:
* Allen Iverson
* Tony Rutland
* Chevy Troutman
* Taurance Johnson
* Darrell Blackman
MIKE BAILEY PLAYERS WHO WERE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
* Chevy Troutman, Mr. Basketball in Pennsylvania, 2000
* Tony Rutland, Gatorade Player of the Year in Virginia, 1994
* Allen Iverson, Player of the Year in Virginia, 1993
MIKE BAILEY PLAYER WHO WAS PARADE ALL-AMERICAN:
* Allen Iverson, Parade All-American First Team, 1993
MIKE BAILEY PLAYERS WHO BECAME PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS:
* Allen Iverson of the Denver Nuggets
* Tony Rutland in Korea, Austria, Venezuela, Cyprus, NBDL, Syria
* Corey Stewart in South America
* Chevy Troutman in Italy and France
In summary, Mike Bailey, an extremely successful coach over many, many years, was Allen Iverson’s first coach. History shows that he thought Allen Iverson was a great point guard in those early years. Bailey never played Iverson at the shooting guard spot to any extent. It would have been ridiculous had Bailey not taken full advantage of the best high school guard that he would ever have by assigning him to the point guard position, where guards who can both score and pass extremely well should go.
Bailey clearly decided correctly by following the textbook on who should be your point guard, because his team won everything a team can possibly win while he and Iverson were running it.