Thursday, March 20, 2008

Allen Iverson Returns. And Loses.

"I came to this organization, I was 21, I thought I was ready," he said. "I wasn't ready. I never had a dime in my life, and then all of a sudden I came into a bunch of millions . . . I was a fish out of water.

"I did a lot of things [with the Sixers] . . . Looking back on it, it's embarrassing, but I can share a lot of experiences, a lot of do's and do nots. I don't regret any of it." - Allen Iverson 3/19/2008 (Phil Jasner's piece in the DN)

Last night was about as positive of an experience as you could wish for if you're a Sixer fan. You got to thank Allen Iverson for all he did for the franchise. You watched your team beat the Nuggets and maintain position for a playoff spot in the Eastern conference. Your floor general, Andre Miller, raised his game even higher against one of his old teams, on his birthday no less.

What made it better? It was nice to hear Allen admit he made mistakes here, because he clearly did. If he had applied himself in such a way that would enhance his natural ability, there is no telling what heights Allen and this franchise would have gotten to. But last night was not about negatives.

During the postgame press conference, Iverson went on, at length, about how much he loved the fans here, how much he missed the area, and he seemed genuinely touched by his reception. It was good to see Iverson, who so often puts up a hardass front, express himself so emotionally about his time here.

It was also good to finally hear from an athlete an acknowledgement of the type of fans that we are without references to Santa Claus, batteries, or snow balls:

"Philadelphia fans are the best in the sense that they care about their team," Iverson said. "They are diehard fans here. At times it was, 'I love you, A.I.,' but then it was, "We gonna whup your ass.'

"Yes, I respect you, and I love what you did, but I'm still Philly all the way. You've got to respect them for that. You've got to love them for that." - Allen Iverson 3/19/2008 (John Smallwood's piece in the DN)

The game itself might have been one of the best the Sixers played all year. The win brought their record to the .500 mark at 34 - 34. The money play? With under a minute to go, Andre Iguodala was driving the lane, lost his footing, and threw up a blind and desperate shot/pass (depending on who you want to believe) that ended up in the hands of Sam Dalembert, who (amazingly) caught the ball and deposited it for the go-ahead bucket.

As for Andre Miller, what else can be said of him that already hasn't been said? He was tremendous, playing against his former team, putting up 28 points and dishing out 12 assists. His signature play was posting up Allen Iverson down low and pump faking Iverson into the air and having Iverson fall down hard on his back. Miller subsequently shot and drew the foul. Afterwards, the usually stoic defiantly Miller yelled and pumped his fist. He clearly wanted this game.

Allen Iverson wanted this game as well. Let's thank Allen for all he had done for the franchise, but let's be glad the current edition of the Sixers wouldn't let the night be perfect for him.

(sneaker picture from; Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

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