Retirement? We talkin’ about retirement?

Well, not exactly. In fact, less than a week after Allen Iverson claimed he would be calling it quits, the illustrious guard might be coming back sooner than expected.

But is it really a surprise to see teams interested in Iverson? I think you could go multiple routes with that question, depending on who you ask.

No doubt Iverson is talented enough to play with the big boys. The questionably 6-foot guard out of Georgetown is by no means over the hill. He’s only 34 years old and has still shown he can compete with the world’s best. He won the MVP award in 2001, led the 76ers to the finals that same year and he was even shooting nearly 60 percent from the field this season before he left the Grizzlies for personal reasons.

Simply put, it’s a shame to see such a talented player receive just over 22 minutes of playing time a game when he could be giving so much more to a struggling franchise like the Grizzlies.

Obviously, it’s difficult to please a 34-year-old who doesn’t share the same team-building morals most NBA players possess. But that poses even a bigger question: Why has this once upon a time superstar been dragged down by front office executives?

The answer isn’t a simple one. If Iverson were statistically dragging down the teams he played for, it might be a bit easier to understand why he has been so disrespected for the last few seasons.

We’re talking about a guy who once averaged 33 points per game and is absolutely one of the best guards of his time. Even last season on the Pistons, A.I. shot over 40 percent from the field, averaging nearly five assists and 17.4 points per game on Detroit. That was by far the worst season of his 13-year career.

Just two years ago on Denver, Iverson averaged over 26 points per game and over seven assists per game. You’re telling me no team in the NBA wants to play Iverson for 40-plus minutes a game to produce those kind of numbers? I don’t think so.

Frankly, this whole situation is baffling. True, Iverson is not a bona fide team player. He mouths off against his coaches and shows up late to practice. But you know what? If you’re one of the best players in the NBA and have been producing like he has been over the past 13 seasons, deal with his antics and let the man play ball.

For the Grizzlies to play Iverson for less than half of a game is not only baffling, but incredibly disrespectful to a player who can clearly produce more than their current starting point guard Mike Conley. Nobody expects A.I. to replace O.J. Mayo, but wouldn’t a good coach be able to combine the duo’s talent and perhaps turn a struggling franchise into a possible playoff team?

The 76ers must have noticed this, and when the AP reported they were interested in possibly signing Iverson, I couldn’t help but smile. While A.I. might be a nightmare for coaches and front office execs, he is not only an incredible marketing tool, but a premier basketball player as well.

Jrue Holiday could be a good point guard and probably will be Philadelphia’s choice for the future, but Iverson would no doubt provide a needed boost to that team. Like I said earlier, it’s not as if A.I. doesn’t have the talent to play up to the NBA’s standards. He might be 34, but he sure doesn’t play like it.

In fact, if the 76ers sign Iverson, it could mean a remarkable turn of events for the Hampton, Va., native. Instead of watching the Grizzlies stumble out to a 6-10 start to the NBA season, A.I. could actually help Philadelphia improve on their record. Combined with Philadelphia’s new A.I., Andre Iguodala, and Elton Brand, Iverson could be the missing piece to a franchise in dire need of a superstar.

Even the coach who endured most of Iverson’s antics hopes he returns to play more in the NBA. Larry Brown’s “Don’t give up” message is the one many colleagues around the league are probably saying right now. Seeing A.I. leave at this juncture would be a travesty, and while the Grizzlies might not have the guts to let a future hall of famer criticize their organization, they also hinder themselves by not allowing him to contribute to their team.

“I always thought that when I left the game, it would be because I couldn’t help my team the way that I was accustomed to,” Iverson said in a statement. “However, that is not the case.”

Well, A.I., it’s time for you to prove it. Hopefully the 76ers, or any other team in the NBA for that matter, will give you the opportunity to make that happen.

Jonah is a junior majoring in journalism and Hebrew and Semitic studies. What do you think about Allen Iverson’s supposed retirement? Should he retire or can he be useful to another NBA team like the Philadelphia 76ers? Send your A.I. thoughts to [email protected]