Allen Iverson has announced that he remains hopeful of getting one last shot at the NBA but says he’s turning down the opportunity to launch his comeback in the NBA Development League.
Iverson, via his Twitter feed, said Tuesday that he’s passing on an offer from the Dallas Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, who are co-owned by Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson.
Iverson tweeted: “I thank Donnie and Dallas for the consideration and while I think the D-League is a great opportunity, it is not the route for me.”
Iverson added: “I realize my actions contributed to my early departure from the NBA, should God provide me another opportunity I will give it my all. … My dream has always been to complete my legacy in the NBA.
“To my fans, I love yall! Not a day goes by that I am not asked when am I coming back, we all must accept that my return is not up to just me.”
ESPN.com reported Monday that the Legends had ramped up their season-long pursuit of Iverson because they had moved to the front of the D-League’s waiver line, meaning that they would have a clear path to signing Iverson if the 11-time All-Star could be convinced to put his name in the developmental league’s player pool.
Iverson last played in the NBA in 2009-10 in brief stints with the Memphis Grizzlies and the Philadelphia 76ers, but the 37-year-old has resisted multiple overtures — this season and last season — from the Legends to use the D-League to get back on the NBA’s radar. The Legends play 25 minutes north of the Mavericks’ home in downtown Dallas.
Iverson has also rebuffed opportunities to sign lucrative deals in China because, to date, he’s been unwilling to consider playing anywhere besides the NBA.
The Legends’ pitch to Iverson centered around the fact that they’ve just convinced NBA veterans Delonte West and Rashad McCants to join their team with similar intentions and have a history of helping players make it back to the highest level.
The Legends signed another 37-year-old earlier this month — point guard Mike James — and wound up putting James in position to earn a 10-day call-up to the Mavericks that turned into a guaranteed contract after James completed his second 10-day deal Sunday.
The Legends, now in their third season, have employed 16 former NBA first-round picks since the team’s inception and previously helped big men Sean Williams and Dan Gadzuric, swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts and veteran guard Antonio Daniels make it back to the NBA.
After James officially signed with the Mavericks on Monday for the rest of the season, D-League rules stipulate that the Legends returned to the top of the waiver process, which happens when a non-assigned player called up from the D-League spends 21 consecutive days with the NBA team that signed him. The Legends were also at the front of the waiver line last Friday to be able to claim West when the 29-year-old, who was released by the Mavericks in November, completed his D-League paperwork.
The Legends and their front-office team of Nelson, former NBA slam-dunk champion Spud Webb and Malcolm Farmer have made a habit of ambitious pursuits since the team’s debut season in 2010-11.
Longtime NBA forward Eduardo Najera, in his first season as Legends coach, is the first Mexican-born coach of any team under the NBA’s umbrella.
Najera succeeded former NBA Coach of the Year Del Harris. When Harris was hired by the Legends in 2011, he replaced Nancy Lieberman, who became the first female to coach an NBA-affiliated team when she took the job in the Legends’ first season. Harris and Lieberman remain part of the Legends’ front office.
Nelson also made a hard run at former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl in the summer of 2011 to succeed Lieberman after Pearl received a show-cause penalty by the NCAA for three years, but Pearl opted to go into broadcasting despite an offer sources pegged at $500,000, roughly five times the annual norm for a D-League coach.