Allen Iverson returns to the Wachovia center tonite for the first time since the December 19th trade that saw him get traded to the Denver Nuggets.
Many Philadelphians have many differing opinions on Allen Iverson and his career here in Philadelphia. I don't intend to write any sort of "what was AI's legacy" type of article this morning. Not yet anyway. And apparently, neither do the Sixers, who rightfully will not do any sort of video tribute or unnecessary pregame ceremony. I love the way the Sixers, while allowing for a modified intro of AI, are still remembering that this is an opponent, and a dangerous one at that.
While now may not be the time for that full-spectrum Allen Iverson retrospective, it is important to remember that no matter what happened when Allen Iverson was a member of the Sixers, no one can dispute that Allen Iverson made Sixer basketball relevant not only locally, but on a national level. From upper middle-class folks in Radnor to the badlands of West Philly, EVERYONE had an opinion, either good or bad about Allen Iverson. When it came to his effort on the court, the opinion was almost universally positive. When it came to his effort off-the-court and how it indirectly may have hindered his on-the-court performance, opinion was much more gray.
Let's not forget what this franchise was like in 1996, when Pat Croce put together an ownership team to buy to buy out Harold Katz. They were a rotting corpse of a franchise; the shit on the bottom of everyone's shoe. Then Croce came in, they drafted a skinny kid out of Georgetown named Allen Iverson, and despite a few bumps on the way, went on to become the hottest sporting ticket in town.
Far be it for me to tell people what to do during a game with respect to whether to boo a certain player or not to boo a certain player. If you feel compelled to boo Allen Iverson to remind him of how you feel about his practice habits or about his penchant to park in the handicapped spot at TGI Friday's on City Ave, go right ahead and boo your lungs out. That is your right as a fan.
But hopefully, you'll hold off on the boos, just this once, and warmly welcome home a player who gave everything he had on the court during game time.
Now one more time, for old time's sake, the "Tyron Lue Stepover":