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News » Humbled Iverson happy to be back


Humbled Iverson happy to be back


Humbled Iverson happy to be back Allen Iverson, trying to resurrect his NBA career in the place it started, returned to Philadelphia in his terms a humbled man.

He was emotional and introspective during a soul-searching news conference late yesterday afternoon at the Wachovia Center's Hall of Fame Room.

Several times fighting back tears but losing the battle, Iverson expressed his gratitude to 76ers fans and the organization for bringing him out of his brief retirement.

On Wednesday, Iverson agreed to a prorated amount of the $1.3 million veteran's minimum salary, which will become guaranteed if he remains on the roster through Jan. 10, when all NBA contracts become guaranteed for the rest of the season.

The Sixers needed a point guard after Lou Williams had surgery on Nov. 26 for a broken jaw that is expected to keep him out eight weeks.

As he often does while sitting behind a microphone, Iverson captivated the large media gathering.

The tears first surfaced when he discussed Sixers fans, for whom Iverson developed an affinity during his first 10-plus-year stint with the team, which ended when he was traded to Denver on Dec. 19, 2006.

"I have a love for them, and they love me, and it's evident," Iverson said, barely able to finish the sentence as the emotion hit him.

Then, his voice clearly cracking, he added, "When I had the opportunity to come back here, I couldn't turn it down."

Since leaving Philadelphia, he has never quite had the same bond in stops in Denver, Detroit, and, ever so briefly, Memphis.

This year he played three games for Memphis, averaging 12.3 points. Memphis waived him Nov. 16.

Sixers president and general manager Ed Stefanski said Iverson was expected to make his debut Monday at the Wachovia Center against Denver.

Since he has been out for so long, there was never a thought to having Iverson play Saturday in Charlotte against the Bobcats, Stefanski said. It is expected that Iverson will have his first practice with his new teammates on Sunday.

According to Stefanski, Iverson was not guaranteed any minutes or a starting spot, but . . .

"We brought him here to play Basketball," Stefanski said after the news conference.

Iverson, who complained about coming off the bench in his last two stops, in Detroit and Memphis, insinuated that he would be content with any role with the Sixers .

"All I told him [Stefanski] was give me an assignment, and I will help you win Basketball games," Iverson said.

Iverson admitted that he did not handle the recent situations of coming off the bench well.

"It was tough on me and something I wasn't accustomed to and didn't know how to deal with it, and I didn't deal with it the right way," Iverson said. "Honestly it was shocking to me, and I had to deal with it like that and couldn't handle it."

Iverson admitted that it was humbling when the free-agent period began in July and there was little interest in him, especially from any contending teams.

"I have done a lot of things as far as bringing it on myself and mistakes and decisions I made throughout my career," he said. "That bad rap followed me, and it ended up hurting me."

The Sixers apparently went the extra mile in testing his desire to play. According to an NBA source, he was not offered a guaranteed contract because the Sixers wanted to gauge his commitment.

Speaking of commitment, Iverson said yesterday he would like to make this more than a one-season deal with the team.

"I will do everything in my power for the team to be successful, for them to even have a chance of them extending me [past this season]," Iverson said.

A key question remains: Can Iverson still be an effective player at the age of 34?

His former teammate Eric Snow, who attended yesterday's news conference because he was in the area promoting his forthcoming book, Leading High Performers , says Iverson has plenty of game. An analyst for NBA TV in Atlanta, Snow said he had worked out recently with Iverson.

"I think he has a great deal left," Snow said. "As long as the expectations for him are legitimate."

Snow then talked of those expectations.

"Is it OK for Allen Iverson to be a 14-, 15-, 16-, 17-points scorer?" Snow asked. "I'm fine with that, but are others fine with that?"

Iverson's arrival continues to be good from a business standpoint. Lara Price, the Sixers' senior vice president of business operations, said last night that Monday's game with Denver was near a sellout.

Chat with Kate Fagan about

the Sixers today at 3 p.m. at http://go.philly.com/dsixContact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.


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Added: December 5, 2009

 

 
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