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News » Inside the Sixers: Contemplating Iverson's problematic return


Inside the Sixers: Contemplating Iverson's problematic return


Inside the Sixers: Contemplating Iverson's problematic return Within the 76ers' world, the question of Allen Iverson's returning has always been met with head shaking, the gesture clearly conveying, That bridge has been crossed. And let's not cross it again .

There was a sense of time served, bygones passed, a fresh start earned.

Now, as instantly as Lou Williams broke his jaw, the response to this years-old question has gone from, 'No, never,' to 'We're considering it.'

It did feel as if karma was calling for A.I.'s return. Last week, the former all-star point guard parted ways with the Memphis Grizzlies, a few days later announcing his retirement. On Thursday, Williams had his jaw wired shut. He will spend eight weeks on the sidelines.

In 2006, the Sixers traded Iverson to the Denver Nuggets. Since then, the vibe around the organization has been relief. But now that its 13-player roster is missing its starting point guard, the team's philosophy on Iverson's drama apparently has changed.

With this change seems to come an admission that the path the Sixers have been traveling since trading their franchise player hasn't been as paved and purposeful as one might think.

How else do you explain spending three seasons talking about signing only quality people? About protecting a young nucleus of talent? About planning for the future with this nucleus? And then suddenly staring at a banged-up roster that's crawled to a 5-11 start, deciding maybe you do want Iverson after all?

He wasn't the answer last year, or this summer, or a month ago. Was he not the answer until the Wachovia Center was half full? Was he not the answer until the Sixers became lowest - by a long shot - on the city's totem pole of professional franchises?

If one injury is enough to bring Iverson back, to shake up the organization's plan since his departure, then the plan probably wasn't solid in the first place.

Nobody is arguing, especially given Williams' absence, about the Sixers' need for a roster addition. On Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks, the Sixers were without three of their top five scorers: center Marreese Speights (partially torn medial collateral ligament), Williams, and power forward Elton Brand (tight right hamstring).

They had only 10 players available, and Sixers coach Eddie Jordan started rookie Jrue Holiday at point guard.

So, yes, the Sixers need a roster booster, no question. But Iverson could be a roster implosion. For the Sixers , this feels a little like soul-selling: It will move some tickets, it will win a few games, then next year when he's gone, where will the Sixers be? And who will they be? And what will they stand for?

Not much. It would be an admission that swingman Andre Iguodala is not your franchise player and will not carry you through bad times. That Brand, your 2008 big-time free-agent acquisition, is just another player on the roster. That caring about your team's character - always a line that summoned thoughts of Iverson - was just a company line.

Last summer, Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski specifically did not re-sign point guard Andre Miller, who eventually signed with the Portland Trail Blazers, because he believed in Williams and Holiday. He could have signed a veteran backup point guard in case of injury. He did not.

Stefanski hired Jordan for his offensive system, preaching patience as the team learns this complicated system. Iverson's dedicating himself to the Princeton offense after slipping into a Sixers uniform is about as likely as the Memphis Grizzlies' winning the NBA title.

Sadly, bringing back Iverson, 34, would be the most exciting thing to happen to this team since it traded him. It would be flashy, but also desperate and false. If you are confident in Jordan's system, which is predicated on teamwork, signing a player infamous for creating his own offense at the expense of the team's offense basically would render this season useless as progress toward future success.

One reason the Sixers drafted Holiday was because he could play point guard to Williams' shooting guard. If an X-ray hadn't revealed Williams' fractured jaw, we would have seen a starting backcourt of Holiday and Williams against the Boston Celtics last Wednesday night.

This backcourt might be the future. And half of it - Holiday - could spend the next two months proving he belongs.

Iverson is the quick fix, ultimately a step away from improvement.

The Sixers know that they aren't relevant. They know that the gaps in their roster, like the seats in their arena, need filling. So fill them as best you can right now.

Iverson, though, is the past.

He might, temporarily, become the present.

But he's not the future.

Inside the Sixers :

Read Kate Fagan's 76ers blog, Deep Sixer , at http://go.philly.com/sports.

Blog response of the week

Subject: Alan Iverson

Posted by: chuckw, 10:26 AM, 11/27/2009

"Enough with the Alan Iverson must return nonsense. He is a 34-year-old guard coming off various injuries who no longer has explosiveness, on a good night these days will shoot at best 10 for 24, is a defensive liability, would stunt the potential growth of Holiday, will fight for the ball with Iguodala, can't and won't learn the Princeton offense, is not liked by Sixers ownership, and, at most, will draw crowds for two games as a curiosity until they see he is a shell of his former self. There is not a single NBA team that has shown the slightest interest in signing him after he was booted by Memphis, including Larry Brown's Bobcats. Time for Iverson to pack it in and receive the accolades for his Hall of Fame career."

Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or kfagan@phillynews.com.


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Added: November 30, 2009

 

 
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