July 23, 2009 at 1:00 am

Vincent Goodwill:  NBA Insider

Allen Iverson -- and his image -- struggle to find job

Former Piston Allen Iverson wants to end his career with a championship-caliber team, but so far the only teams who have shown interest in the veteran guard are the L.A. Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies. (Clarence Tabb Jr./The Detroit News)

Former Piston Allen Iverson still is looking for a home, but he's really looking for another kindred spirit.

He's had two: John Thompson and Larry Brown. Thompson was Iverson's coach at Georgetown, but more importantly, a father figure when Iverson needed it most. Brown recognized Iverson's talents in Philadelphia, parlaying it to a Finals appearance in 2001. Thompson and Brown are Iverson's staunchest defenders and, ironically, coaches who have at times been labeled "rebel" and "misunderstood."

Everything hasn't been rosy for the 6-foot, 180-pound Iverson, but it hasn't been all thorny either.

It's a Catch-22. Without his stubbornness, he never would be the 16th-leading scorer in NBA history. More impressively, he's averaged 41 minutes a game through his career, fourth most in NBA history. No player similar in height and weight is in the top 20.

The same attributes that make him great, however, hold him back from signing with a contender at this stage of his career.

He's done things his way and had success. Based on his rough background, his game and life parallel each other, for better or worse. Consequently, he's been judged, deservedly or not.

"I obviously feel like it's unfair, but it just makes the chip on my shoulder that much bigger," Iverson told NBA TV in an interview Tuesday night.

There's precedent for players who have submerged their style of play to win a championship. Nate "Tiny" Archibald, who once led the league in scoring and assists in the same season, joined the Celtics late in his career, helping Larry Bird win his first title. Mark Aguirre went from scoring 25 points a game to splitting time with Dennis Rodman, but he owns two rings with the Pistons.

If Iverson backed down a little bit, he'd be ideal for a team in need of someone capable of scoring in bunches. He could've changed the tenor of the entire offseason.

From the outside, last season seemed to be the perfect opportunity for Iverson to ingratiate himself into the Pistons team-first style. The marriage was doomed from the start and both sides made errors. Iverson was branded the bad guy and didn't play after April 3 because of a back injury.

"The whole thing with me is to be in a situation where I can be happy," Iverson said. "Obviously the objective is to win a championship, but I've been thinking about it -- my whole thing is to be happy and finish my career in a happy situation."

Sounds like a man who's taken more beating from detractors than bruising 7-footers on drives to the basket.

Contemporaries Ray Allen, Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett are playing for contenders because they've conformed in some manner, while Iverson's biggest suitors are the Grizzlies and Clippers, hardly world-beaters.

"I feel like I have to prove myself all over in this league," Iverson said.

Sadly, he does. Chances are he wouldn't have it any other way.

Red, white and Bluedevil

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski signed on as USA's basketball coach through the 2012 Olympics.

Good for him. He accepted the high expectations of getting USA back on top and exceeded them.

Now he has the loyalty and admiration of multi-millionaires, and he will help replace and transition a new set of stars into the system with its showcase in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Having Kobe Bryant and LeBron James on your team helps a little bit, though.

vgoodwill@detnews.com">vgoodwill@detnews.com

Free-agent roundup

Player Old team New team
Ron ArtestHoustonL.A. Lakers
Trevor ArizaL.A. LakersHouston
Matt BarnesPhoenixOrlando
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Mike BibbyAtlantaAtlanta
Ben GordonChicagoDetroit
Grant HillPhoenixPhoenix
Charlie VillanuevaMilwaukeeDetroit
Jason KiddDallasDallas
Shawn MarionTorontoDallas
Antonio McDyessDetroitSan Antonio
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