Saturday, March 04, 2006

Why wasn't Allen Iverson selected?

Allen Iverson didn't get the invitation for the Olympics Basketball team, and now the whole nation is arguing about that.

As we know, contracts from USA Basketball went out last week to 22 NBA players, two college players and one high school player to compete for spots on the National Team that will play in the World Championships next summer. And Allen Iverson's mailbox remained empty.

In fact, nothing will be official until Sunday, when Jerry Colangelo, the managing director for USA Basketball's senior National Team, and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, the head coach of the National/Olympic team, announce the invitees on ABC-TV. However, the information has been floating around for a few days. Iverson, recognized as the face of the 2004 Olympic team in Athens, was not included on the VIP list.

"I just wasn't picked, that's it," the Philadelphia star guard said after punishing the Houston Rockets with 40 points and 10 assists in Wednesday night's 106-101 victory. "I'm not bitter about it. I'm not mad about it. Like I said, I'll get to spend more time with my wife and kids the next three summers, and that's a great thing.

"I'll still root those guys on, hope they bring gold back. I'm just honored that I was considered to be on that team twice. I was put on the team once, and considered to be on it twice; that says a lot about what I've done in my career. But I'm not mad about it at all. They just made their decision, and I respect it."

Iverson was easily the MVP of the 2003 U.S. team that won the Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament of the Americas in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He met with Colangelo on Jan. 4 in Phoenix and said he very much wanted to play, that he had a great experience in 2004 despite winning only a bronze medal; he wanted an opportunity to go back and win a gold medal in Beijing, China.

But he insisted he was not disappointed at not being included for the tryouts.

"Not at all, because I've done it before," he said. "There are so many things in my basketball career that I've done and some things that I haven't done. You're not going to be able to do them all. The only thing missing from my career right now that I want is [an NBA] title, and that's it."

Allen Iverson received a wave of support from Rockets star Tracy McGrady before Wednesday night's match.

"I see it as a lack of respect," McGrady claimed. "Of all the guys who didn't go the last time, he chose to go. He was the true veteran who did everything. I just think it's only right to invite him back."

Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy tread carefully on the subject.

"Any time you're in charge of making a decision like this, there is going to be somebody left off you can make a case for, whether it's the All-Star Game, All-NBA or the Olympics," Van Gundy admitted. "Iverson certainly doesn't need the Olympics to validate that he's one of the top 5-10 players in the league, and without question one of the top five competitors. It's a tough decision."