Updated: November 30, 2009, 12:16 AM ET

Five Good Minutes With Phil Jackson

Little Ceremony In This Torch-Passing

By J.A. Adande

Allen Iverson's retirement announcement didn't unleash a powerful emotional reaction from me because I don't think we've seen the last of him and, as it dawned on me Wednesday night, we've already seen the next of him: Brandon Jennings. And for Jennings to truly grow into that role, Iverson has to go. It's the natural order of things.

I tuned in to Milwaukee's game in New Orleans (that I'd even consider watching a Bucks-Hornets game knowing full well Chris Paul wasn't playing is a testament in itself to Jennings), and there was the Iverson phenomenon all over again. The most compelling player on the court was a scrawny little guard wearing No. 3.

Perhaps I've been watching too much "Lost" or other time-traveling science fiction shows, but I believe you can't have the past and future versions of the same person actually meet. It disrupts the space-time continuum. OK, perhaps that's speculation based on imaginary issues. On a more practical level, we do know that two objects can't occupy the same space at the same time. And we've seen that the evolution of basketball is based upon building off a precedent, not simultaneous interaction.

Michael Jordan wouldn't have developed into the player he became without watching Dr. J and David Thompson. And clearly Kobe Bryant is who he is because he had the MJ template to follow. Jordan's career overlapped with Julius Erving's for only three years. Kobe had only two years in the league with the real Jordan (MJ's time in a Washington Wizards uniform isn't a part of the official Jordan canon), and it's not a coincidence that he's the closest approximation to Jordan that we've seen. Notice how none of the so-called Next Jordans who played against him in his prime actually fulfilled that promise? That's in part because Jordan wasn't having any of it and still had a way to stomp them back down into their place. But they also bore the burden of being compared directly to him rather than merely being reminiscent of him.

Read the full post on TrueHoop, ESPN's NBA blog


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