Former NBA superstar Allen Iverson and the game of soccer aren't a pairing that most sports fans would expect.
Yet, for $20,000 a game, the Rochester Lancers of the Major Indoor Soccer League are willing to gamble on just how well his athleticism will translate into the beautiful game. And no worries A.I., you won't have to practice if you agree to play.
"If practice is not a part of the agreement, then we'll find a middle ground," Lancers Vice President Rich Randall cracked to Goal.com. "It is humorous and it always comes up with Allen Iverson."
Randall is referring to Iverson's memorable postgame rant when he hilariously mocked his head coach for criticizing his unwillingness to train with his teammates.
""We're sitting here, I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we're in here talking about practice... not a game," Iverson told reporters 10 years ago, repeating the word "practice" over 20 times for emphasis.
Randall admits that the Lancers' interest in Iverson is mainly to help market his club and the MISL. At the height of Iverson's peak, only Michael Jordan was more popular as a basketball player. Iverson led the NBA in scoring four times and has career averages of 26.7 points and 6.2 assists per game. He will likely be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he officially retires.
"I do think with his athletic talent and abilities, he wouldn't embarrass himself. It could be something really unique for our fans," Randall says.
Iverson is no stranger to the spotlight and controversy. The 36-year-old has fallen out with numerous coaches and hasn't played professionally in almost two years. Various reports have come out saying that the former Sixers star spent all of his $150 million-plus fortune and owes several creditors money.
Randall explained that the Lancers would be willing to potentially up their offer depending on the package that Iverson and his representatives would agree to. The two parties last spoke on Friday.
Iverson would have top-class hotel accommodations for he and his family throughout the arrangement. With his poor financial situation dominating headlines, Randall believes that the Lancers' offer provides several positives for both parties. While he couldn't get into specifics, Randall hinted that there will be charitable causes attached to Iverson's deal.
"We'd like to make this a well-rounded deal," Randall said. "The perfect scenario for both sides is to do something that breeds positive light on the sport and also brings a positive light to Iverson as well."
Randall doesn't expect Iverson to play significant minutes unless the Lancers clinch a playoff spot on Wednesday. Then the former NBA MVP could see some action on Sunday in a match that would have little meaning on the standings.
Randall sees Iverson potentially as goalkeeper.
"He could play a position where he doesn't have to use his feet much," he said.
Lancers' ownership expects to hear back from Iverson's agent Leon Rose over the next day or so. Should he agree, there will surely be national attention towards Rochester, the Lancers and the MISL. If not, maybe Terrell Owens or Chad Ochocinco could be interested.