Gone Too Soon...

Allen Iverson announced his intention to retire Wednesday, closing the door, for now, on a career marked by incredible personal highs and many controversies.

Iverson clearly believes he can still compete at a high level and contribute in a league where he spent 13 full seasons. The former MVP and nine-time All-Star played only three games for the Memphis Grizlies this season, before leaving the team amid questions of playing time and eventually being released.

Iverson fell into a start of career limbo as several teams debated whether to sign perhaps the most talented "little" man in league history. Rumors in New York and Boston and elsewhere never materialized into substance, and A.I. delivered his goodbye via an open letter on Stephen A. Smith's Web site.

Iverson thanked his many fans, players that inspired him, former coaches and teammates, and the Grizzlies and Sixers, his first & last NBA team. But there was also a sense of remorse right off the top of the statement:

"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. However, that is not the case."

Iverson isn't required to file retirement paperwork with the league office as a free agent. Since he's not under contract, Iverson isn't forfeiting any money by retiring. He remains free to sign with any team this season or in the future.

News of Iverson's retirement sent shock waves across the league. Players were quick to praise the contributions of the four-time scoring champ, who many credit for helping introduce a hip-hop element to the NBA.

I think A.I has a few more years in him. He's a tough competitor with a lot to offer. I truly hope it doesn't end like this. If "who's a major piece in the NBA?" is the question...Allen Iverson is still the "Answer."

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