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Does Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports have any Knowledge of the Game?

Anklesnap April 10, 2009 Dr. Anklesnap 10 Comments

Jason Whitlock Fox Sports

April 10, 2009 – Dr. Anklesnap

Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports News recently wrote a scathing article tearing down NBA Star and future Hall of Famer, Allen Iverson. It’s actually getting quite comical reading Jason Whitlock’s articles these days because he always tries to self-infuse a racial angle into every story he writes, even if there isn’t one there. Is there a copy editor in the house? *Cricket* *Cricket*

What does Allen Iverson being black or having lots of tattoo’s have to do with his recent struggles? How about the fact that Iverson had a tough upbringing? Does this mean everyone from a lower socio-economic status is doomed to be a selfish basketball player? Whitlock preaches about racism and prejudice, when in fact he is the one spewing prejudice laced in with layers of assumption. As an example Whitlock says:

Iverson is a one-man, no-country Army, more than likely the victim of a dysfunctional upbringing that left him incapable of embracing the concepts essential to teamwork, winning and sacrifice for the benefit of others.

Has the jolly big fella ever even played the sport? Comparing Magic Johnson to Allen Iverson? Whitlock says:

He could’ve been the second-best point guard in the history of the game (after Magic Johnson). But the idea of being a distributor first and scorer second stood in the way of a futile, ridiculous effort to chase Jordan. At 6-foot, 165 pounds, Iverson had as much of a chance of filling Jordan’s Jordans as yours truly being the next Ron Jeremy.

I’m fairly certain that Allen Iverson and Magic Johnson have about as much of a polar opposite skill set as you can get. Iverson IS and has ALWAYS been a pure scorer. No apologies needed, that’s what made him great. If Whitlock had half a brain he’d blame the General Managers that Iverson has played for, in trying to force fit Iverson into a system that didn’t take advantage of his skills.

And as for his comment above on Iverson’s futile attempts at chasing Michael Jordan, my only comment is ‘who isn’t’? Does that mean Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Lebron James and the like are all self-indulgent fools who should be scoring less and passing more in an attempt to catch Magic Johnson’s records instead of Jordan’s? C’mon Whitlock, be honest, did you just google the word basketball great and come up with “Michael Jordan” and “Magic Johnson” and try and figure out a way to work the names into your article?

The most contradictory part about Jason Whitlock’s weak assessment of Iverson is when he talks about Allen’s success in 2001, leading Philly to the NBA Finals:

In 2001, after the Sixers embarrassed him with threats of an offseason trade and with Larry Brown brow-beating Iverson nightly, he put together a remarkable, MVP season and carried Philadelphia to the NBA Finals.

That season was the one glimpse at what Iverson should’ve been. He won a career-high 56 regular-season games with Aaron McKie, Eric Snow, Tyrone Hill and 34-year-old Dikembe Mutombo providing support.

Whitlock just writes off the amazing season Iverson and the Sixers had to “Larry Brown brow-beating him Nightly”. Didn’t Larry Brown brow-beat Iverson nightly in each of their seasons together? Hmm….anyone with any respect for, or knowledge of the game of basketball may want to take a closer look at WHY the Sixers were successful that season. But wait….alas….the solution was sitting right under Whitlock’s nose. He mentions above, “Aaron McKie, Eric Snow, Tyrone Hill and 34-year-old Dikembe Mutombo”, any bells going off yet Whitlock? Probably not. Let me enlighten you. Instead of crucifying Iverson for being born and bred as a talented scorer, Philly tried a little experiment in which they surrounded Iverson with highly talented defenders, rebounders, and unselfish role players who could help harness Iverson’s scoring abilities, while making up for his defensive woes. What was the result? One of the best seasons in Philadelphia Sixers modern history. And proof, that if managed correctly, Iverson was and could be a winner in the NBA.

Jason Whitlock is an embarrassment to Fox, just as he was to ESPN. His ‘holier than thou’ attitude just doesn’t fly. It comes off as cocky, ignorant, and a sad attempt to cover up any factual base to his arguments.

I have to give Whitlock credit for something though. Reading anything he writes, certainly puts me in the mood to blog. He is an inspiration to basketball bloggers across the interweb. Without the Whitlock’s of the world, the bloggers ‘chickens would be coming home to rot’.

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  • gibbs12

    “Jason Whitlock is an embarrassment to Fox, just as he was to ESPN. His ‘holier than thou’ attitude just doesn’t fly. It comes off as cocky, ignorant, and a sad attempt to cover up any factual base to his arguments.”

    well said. i can’t stand him

  • Deli_Cura

    I can’t believe Fox Sports hires people with so little experience in sports. Also, what does a rotund guy like Whitlock know about Iverson?

    I’m sure he will hide behind Fox’s name and not respond to any of this. That’s what I don’t like aobut big sports news agencies like Fox. He says all sorts of b.s. then if anyone calls him on it, he will just go on to his next piece of b.s.

  • huh?

    don’t see why you’re so up in arms here. the first comment you cite is spot-on. if you can’t make the connection between iverson’s youth and his inability to be a team oriented guy as a pro, i don’t know what to tell you. remember, we’re talking about a guy with a “hold my own” tat here. we’re talking about someone with trust issues when it comes to others, and if you think that’s all assumption i would say you are the one that needs to read up on iverson’s bio.

    ai and magic with “polar opposite” skill-set? really? let’s see, they both are outstanding ball handlers, neither of them ever had a truly dependable long-ball even though they loved to jack it up, they are both great passers, and so on. but you’re missing the point jason was making- he was saying that iverson had the ability to be another magic, but he never developed the trust in others to share the ball. iverson could have avg 12 assists a game if he ever believed the people around him were good enough to win with. furthermore, he is not insinuating they play the same game, just the same position, so that is an error of your own reading comprehension.

    i love ai and i wish he would get a ring before he packs it in. but something i’ve learned the last few years, and especially after the chauncey trade, is that he only serves to diminish the performance of those surrounding him. whitlock’s point, which you too hastily dismiss, is that diminishing of others’ abilities (and thus his team’s success) is a product of iverson’s youth and the lessons he learned growing up in the environment he did. allen never had the opportunity to learn that when you trust in and share with others, the rewards you receive in return are greater.

    this is why even when philly built that team around him, they only had one shot at the finals, and they got clobbered. do you even remember how crappy the east was in those years? making the finals wasn’t all that great of an accomplishment. and yes, larry brow-beat him. perhaps you forgot all the dust-ups they had during those years? perhaps you don’t know larry brown has a rep for brow-beating his pgs? i don’t know, but i think you’re grossly over-reacting to this piece. and now, i have apparently grossly over commented about yours.

  • WCBias.com

    Great take. Couldn’t agree more. In fact, I wrote a similar take on WCBias.com.

    He actually called the 6-foot Iverson an underachiever. Dude, AI’s playing in the freaking league, used to throw down on people in transition, was an MVP, averaged 27 ppg in his career, and only two players in NBA history ever averaged better than 30 in a career, Jordan and Wilt, so I think it’s safe to say he “overachieved” on the court at 6 foot, even if he is a headcase.

    http://www.wcbias.com/2009/04/10/allen-iverson-is-dead-nope-but-quality-sportswriting-is/

  • wilford brimley

    I dislike Whitlock as much as the next reasonable individual, but I will say that I think Iverson, while a good scorer, is perhaps not an efficient enough scorer. In other words, AI is not efficient enough to be the single scorer surrounded by role playing defenders, and still have the team win a majority of its games.

    He shoots 42% from the field, 31% from 3, 78% from the line. To be fair, most guys wouldn’t get anywhere near those numbers if they had the workload that AI has. But I think for the single main scorer model to work, that main scorer has to have much higher percentages than even AI has shown. That’s why the single scorer model hasn’t worked very much. Think about Jordan shooting 50% from the field. That’s a big difference from 42%.

    Clearly, Iverson is one of the most talented players we have ever seen. But I think he can only function peacefully in the single scorer model, and I just don’t think he is efficient enough for the model to succeed. It’s not the AI isn’t supremely talented. It’s just that the single scorer model literally requires legendary, god-like talent. Most guys in the hall-of-fame don’t even have that.

  • http://pippenainteasy.com Zoner

    Allen Iverson, NBA star? Not anymore. As of right now I’d rather even have Ben Gordon.

    I will say that at G-Town he was a “point guard” due to size only. Everyone knew he was a scorer. He’s had a remarkable career in many ways and may be the pound-for-pound toughest guy that I have ever seen play. (Next to MJ of course)

  • http://thehoopdoctors.com/ Dr. Anklesnap

    @huh? – Actually i’m well aware of what Whitlock was insinuating in his comparison of Iverson to Magic. And maybe you had a problem with reading comprehension of what I wrote, in that I stated their skill sets are quite different, and I stick by that. If you think every player that is a good ball handler, with good passing skills, and sub-par long range shooting abilities has a similar skill set to Magic Johnson, then you may need to chalk up just about every NBA guard in the league as having a similar skill set to Magic. Which would be quite a shame I might add, and possibly an insult to the great Magic Johnson who embodied much more than that very ‘simple’ assessment of his skills.

    As for the assumptions Whitlock (and even you) just made about Iverson’s playing style being a result of his upbringing, I cannot bring myself to make, since i’m not a licensed psychologist. Although I am well aware of Iverson’s upbringing that I have researched or been fed through media, movies, and books, I certainly would not venture to make any assumptions about those as being fact, since I don’t know Iverson personally. About all we do know for sure, is that he was raised in a home by his mother with very little money.

    Having very little money has nothing to do with a tough upbringing that breeds selfishness. In fact I would challenge you in that assumption, in my opinion that many low income families have better than average ‘team’ skills as they need to work together as a family to get by and even in some cases survive.

    Either way, since I don’t know Iverson personally, and i’d venture to guess that you don’t either, let’s leave our analysis to his on-court play and not his personal life or upbringing which we know very little about from the outside looking in.

  • Andy

    Whitlock played O-line at Ball State – so yes he does actually have some credibility when it comes to conversations on teamwork. I realize it’s just Ball State but I’m willing to venture that means he played athletics at a higher level than 90% of the people posting here.

    That said, I do not agree with everything that he wrote but I do think he was considerably closer to truth than the original article here. Very good post by huh?

    Some areas that I take issue with: First off Whitlock never even insinuates that they have similar skills sets (Though In hindsight I do think huh? did a pretty good job of coming up with some similarities) – all he says is that AI could have been the second greatest point guard of all time behind Magic. So your longwinded diatribe on how clueless Whitlock is becomes of some perceived likeness between the 2 players is in response to something that isn’t even there.

    Next, I think the primary reason that Whitlock brings race into the equation (as he always will) is simply to show that Iverson throughout his (in my opinion unsuccessful) career has insulated himself from any criticism from the general public because of his hip-hop thug image. For reasons unknown the NBA audience has embraced this whole-heartedly and refuses to see Iverson’s game/career for what it is.

    Here’s the bottom line for me – Iverson has been praised his entire career for a number of things but ANYTHING you get from him comes with a trade-off. There are no absolute positives that come with his game. You get a great scorer – that’s great but now that means you have to find an unselfish point who is big enough defend 2 guards. You get someone who is a ball hawk on D – that’s great but now your D is left exposed on the 4 times out of 5 he misses that steal attempt. You get 30 pts/game – again, this is great but it came over the course of 25 posessions.

    One thing you are right about is that GM’s ought to be put to task for taking on this loser. No two ways about it – it is a terrible idea to build your team around this guy. But here’s the deal, while in Philly he had a roster tailor made to fit his skill set and it never amounted to anything. The guy is a loser.

  • http://www.youthnoise.org/playcity Ethan Austin

    Agreed. I am not a huge fan of Whitlock. Anyone who has ever seen Iverson play in person would be amazed. He’s one of the few guys in the NBA I would pay to see. The dude barely stands 6 feet tall and takes it guys seven, eight, twelve inches taller and a hundred pounds heavier.

    Not only that, but he plays harder than just about everyone else in the NBA. You’d be hard pressed to find a bench warmer who hustles more than Iverson, let alone a super-star who averages 30 a game…

  • KO

    Jason Whitlock = Uncle Tom!