Watching the Lakers-Nuggets game reminded me of what an incredible player Allen Iverson is. He's a career 27.7 ppg scorer, and whatever his faults, plays incredibly hard. He is also listed at 6'0", 165 pounds (but I suspect he's actually 5'11"). I am 5'10", 165 pounds - pretty much the exact same size! This begs the question - how do I compare to Iverson? Let's break this down, Dr. Jack style.
ATHLETICISM: VERTICAL LEAP
I have a vertical leap of maybe 12 inches. AI almost certainly leaps at least 25 inches, if not 35. Even if you assume that I could train my legs and get up to 16 inches, it's pretty clear I lose here.
AI has one of the quickest first steps in the league, and has a killer crossover. I eat extremely fast. I'm also 10 years younger, and everyone knows that younger players are quicker.
Iverson has never been known for being a sharpshooter, and is a career 42.6% shooter. He is only 31.4% on threes. In recent years, as my explosiveness has waned, I have developed a reliable jumper playing pick-up ball against players who are usually as slow as I am. I can shoot 90% on free throws, if that's all I'm doing, and 60% on college threes if I have a rebounder. How much harder can NBA threes be?
Iverson is not a natural point guard, but has averaged over 7 assists the last few years because of his quickness and ability to draw double teams. I am well known for my excellent form on chest passes and bounce passes, and have never been accused of being a ballhog.
Though Iverson averages almost 4 turnovers a game, this is usually because he dominates the ball so much on offense. His handles are quite good. I have decent handles for a big man, but probably cannot play point guard in the NBA (except against Smush Parker).
I have never seen Iverson post up an opposing defender, ever. He seems to have a complete and alarming lack of post moves. In contrast, I post up early and often, and have a variety of fade-away jumpers and up-and-under moves.
BIG advantage: Justin
Iverson is clearly undersized, but vultures over 2 steals a game. He's not a fantastic on-ball defender but is an underrated help defender. I average fewer steals than Iverson, but significantly more blocks. I have trouble with quicker guards but am a tough post defender even against bigger players.
Let's face the facts - Iverson is turning 35. I am turning 25. Would any GM other than Isiah Thomas take the player who is ten years older? I didn't think so.
HUGE Advantage: Justin
Iverson is known to take a beating as he throws his body in amongst the trees. For instance, here are his injuries from 1996-2006. He has missed an average of 10 games a year, but has not gone down with any catastrophic injuries. After being a model of good health until 2005, suffering only one sprained ankle (that did not cause any missed games) and a fractured finger (no missed games - played through it with an expert tape job administered myself. Admittedly, had no idea it was fractured until I noticed it was crooked), the past three seasons have been plagued with serious, Yao Ming-like injuries. There are serious doubts about my right knee (ACL tear), and a freak eye injury cost me much of the 2006-07 season.
Slight Advantage: Iverson
Iverson has been in the NBA for 11 years and has been to the NBA finals (losing to the Lakers in 5 games). He was the NBA MVP in 2001. He is a 9-time NBA All-Star and has been selected to the All-NBA First Team three times. I have extensive experience playing IM basketball and hit a memorable game-winning shot in 2001. I have also hit a moderate number of clutch shots in pick-up games, without being able to rely on NBA-caliber teammates to draw the defense. I have also never played with Carmelo Anthony, instead having to carry teams on my own.
Iverson is a beloved teammate and leads by example, always playing extremely hard. However, his disrespect for authority and fiery temper can sometimes be a distraction. For instance, he just got ejected from Game 1 if the 2008 playoffs, and can clash with coaches. I have never said "It's just practice, man" and have never been ejected from a game. I also play extremely hard, and do not clash with coaches other than Mike Brown.*
* I've never played for Mike Brown, but I think he's an idiot.
OFF-COURT BEHAVIOR / MEDIA RELATIONS
Iverson has never handled the media particularly well. His rap career, tattoos, and wild lifestyle can be a distraction to other players on a team. For instance, look how surly he looks here. He's also not wearing a shirt and might be giving the camera the finger. I have no rap career and spend most of my time working, watching sports, and chatting online. I also have a great sense of humor.
In the NBA, managing a salary cap is extremely important. Iverson makes $19.2M. I would accept a 2 year, $14M contract to play for a contender. If you do the math, I would make $7M a year and thus represent a $12.2M savings from Iverson.
Iverson has an edge in two categories and a slight advantage in one. I win in four categories and have a big advantage in two. Math doesn't lie, people. It's math. Six beats three. In fact, six is DOUBLE three, leading some to make the argument that I am twice the player that AI is. I don't think this is fair, however, since statistics can sometimes be misleading.
In the end, different teams play different styles. AI plays more of a quick, slashing style while I am more physical inside and more of a pure shooter. Any team would be happy to have an Allen Iverson or a Justin on its roster. They'd be happier with Justin, but settling for Iverson - the second best 165 pound player ever - isn't a bad consolation prize.