Alex, I'll take Clueless for $1,000, please.
He's allowed to practice with the team, but he has to be out of the arena two hours before game time, when it's back to the family room with his two dogs and a big screen that mocks him. "I try not to watch," he says. "It hurts too much. But then the game starts, and I know I've got to watch." During the Sonics game, TNT talked so much about whether Anthony and Iverson, the league's top two scorers, could exist on one team, he turned off the sound.
So whose team is it, yours or AI's?
"It's still my team," Anthony insists. "Look, man, this is his 11th season. He's tired of always being the Man. He wants to sit back and let somebody else be the Man. He just wants to win a championship. And he knows he can't do it by himself.... I mean, I know how he feels. I've been the Man on this team for 3 1/2 years. It gets overwhelming."
Somebody put out an APB for Melo's smile. He's about as cheery as a meter maid with bunions. "I just feel like, Damn, where do I fit in? I don't even know how to fit in. I've never had to before."
And into this tangle of uncertainty comes the stabilizing and fatherly influence of... Allen Iverson?
"I know what he's going through," says the 31-year-old Iverson, who has made nearly every mistake Anthony has made—brawls, feuds with coaches, drug-toting friends—and more. "Every day you wake up with a bull's-eye on your chest. You're like, Why's everybody coming at me all the time? But, with time, you start to realize you are that special talent, you are that franchise player, and you have to accept it. He's got to realize that more people want him to succeed than he thinks."
And one of them is Iverson, who's made it a point after home games to have dinner with Melo and scheme for the day he returns, Jan. 22. "Man, I don't care about 40-point nights—I've done that, I don't know how many times," says Iverson, who's done it 77 times. "He's 22. He needs to get his 40s and 50s. As long as we're winning, I don't care who shoots it."
What Iverson wants now is assists. "I want to be there for [ Anthony]," he says. "I want to have a positive impact on his career and on his life."
Allen Iverson: Voice of Reason?