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Deep Holes Get Deeper: Allen Iverson Leaves Grizzlies 'For Personal Reasons'

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis's aging superstar offseason acquisition Allen Iverson has left the team for personal reasons. Ronald Tillery writes:

The Allen Iverson saga has taken another turn as the veteran guard asked for and was granted permission to leave the Grizzlies to deal with a personal matter, according to an NBA source.

Iverson, 34, met with Griz owner Michael Heisley Friday night following the team's 114-98 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. The pair met again this morning, and Iverson was expected to depart for Atlanta this afternoon.

Atlanta is where Iverson lives during the offseason.

Quick reactions are over the jump, with, I'm sure, more in the upcoming hours and days.

Allen Iverson and management are not seeing eye to eye. That much is clear. What's less clear, however, is what the hell is actually going on.First we need to be sure to envision the situation from the beginning -- as in the beginning of Allen Iverson's career. I don't care about Scoring Championships; I care that Iverson has been the one of the most loved players in the Association while also being one of the most critically misunderstood. This is a tenuous situation, loyalty and doubt aren't compatible.

While some fans absolutely adore the scrapper, others are appalled by what they perceive as his disrespect of authority and establishment. The problem with that position is that Allen Iverson doesn't hate authority -- in his career he has never attack franchise leadership until provoked. Not that A.I. is the spitting image of a good soldier, but he's felt his fair share of manipulation.

Fast forward through the Philadelphia saga and consider the Nuggets, where Iverson and Carmelo Anthony could outscore any duo in the league. Denver still couldn't win -- not even with a Defensive Player of the Year and monolithic payroll. Doubt wins.

After Denver had supposedly hit it's ceiling, Detroit traded Chauncey Billups for Iverson. Detroit embraced Iverson because of the never ending goodwill around the league towards Iverson. They were not well repaid for their trust; I've been over this before. Loyalty dies.

And so this summer we heard little from an Iverson who was faced by nothing but doubters, though Iverson did very little to change that perception of himself. He didn't train, he didn't work out for teams, he thought that he was Allen Iverson, which is fine until nobody else believes you.

I'm not trying to say that Allen Iverson is over the hill. I believe that Iverson should be starting on the Grizzlies, and I believe that Iverson still has talent. The problem is that I'm a blogger, not an NBA executive or coach. Iverson has to prove himself to the likes of the NBA management to regain their loyalty.

Of course A.I. knows that, but it's a reality too deeply incompatible with his experience and knowledge of self. Remember this is a player who's always faced doubts about his viability and personality, and yet has always been a good enough basketball player to demand love on every level. Today Allen Iverson isn't a good enough basketball player to demand love, which is a truth he refuses to recognize only because he's still a damn good basketball player.

This is the source of the identity conflict. Allen Iverson doesn't care that he's coming off the bench; he's been around the league long enough to know how easing into the lineup after injury works. Lionel Hollins isn't fundamentally opposed to starting Iverson and hasn't penned Iverson into a 6th man role. Allen Iverson is disheveled because he is being both subversively disrespected in the open and possibly openly insulted behind closed doors.

So I don't know just what it would take to make Iverson leave the team. Even late in his stay in Philadelphia and after being lied to in Detroit, A.I. stuck with his team unless benched with "injuries" like in Detroit. Did Heisley or Hollins lie to him? Did they lock their doors to him? I have a suspicion that something is going on behind the doors of the Grizzlies' castle that we're not hearing.

Unfortunately I don't see any answers being forthcoming. Iverson tends to be fairly diplomatic even when marginalized, and I'm not certain if Memphis has does something truly appalling or if this is a 'millionth straw that broke the camels back' situation.

Sometime in the future the truth will come out, as it did with Detroit, but until then I'm loathe to put the onus on Allen Iverson so long as Michael Heisley is a part of the same old boys club that has manipulated A.I.'s image of an cantankerous gangster throughout his career.