As we all know, yesterday Allen Iverson took another leave of absence from the 76ers to be with his ill four year old daughter Messiah. We have no issues with Allen’s departure as nothing is more important the family, not even the game we love and that’s especially true when the family member of concern is a child. Any fan, media member or basketball expert who has a problem with Iverson’s second hiatus of the season needs to have their head examined.
If this is, as several NBA “insiders” such as Stephen A. Smith claim, the end of Iverson’s career in Philadelphia, then we’d like to take a moment to salute and thank Allen. The little man with the huge heart brought some fun and smiles to Philadelphia during an NBA season that has otherwise been a complete and utter disaster.
Obviously we hope that first and foremost his daughter gets well quickly. We also hope that we see Allen back on the floor in a 76ers uniform very soon. But just in case we never lay eyes on the sight of #3 clad in Sixers red, white and blue again, today we present our Top 5 favorite moments from Allen Iverson’s return to the 76ers.
1) Iverson scores 15 in 3rd vs. Lakers : No doubt about this one. How much fun was it to watch some vintage Allen Iverson during the 3rd quarter of this game back on January 9th? For us it was a blast. Iverson single handily kept the Sixers in this contest by scoring 15 points in the 3rd (11 straight in one stretch) and 23 points overall. His 3rd Q scoring burst included two amazing, off-balance buckets that had us checking the calendar to make sure it was still 2010 and not 2001. Kobe must have been impressed as well because he “asked for the challenge” of guarding the red-hot Iverson in the late 3rd and early 4th. Kobe managed to get Iverson under control. However, we’ll be the first to say that we thought Kobe fouled Iverson on several plays, but the whistles were silent. For evidence of our claim please check out the picture left of Kobe smacking Iverson in the head on one play. There was no call on this drive to the tin. Three years ago, Iverson would have gotten every one of the calls we felt he deserved last night. Iverson clearly was not happy with the refs during the stretch were Kobe guarded him, but he refused to comment after the game for fear of getting fined. Still it was great that for one night we didn’t have to watch ESPN Classic to witness some vintage Iverson.
2) Iverson kisses the 76ers logo : There’s really not much to say about this one except for the fact that it brought chills to our spine and tears to our eyes. Iverson kneeling down to plant one on the 76ers logo during the player intro of his first game back will be recognized as one the smoothest moments in franchise history and everyone will remember exactly where they were when Iverson’s name was reintroduced as a member of the Sixers first-five.
3) Iverson drops a ridiculous dime vs. Toronto : Over the course of his career Iverson has just owned Toronto as is evidenced by his 29.7 ppg. and 6.2 apg. career averages against the Raptors and January 8th, 2010 was no different. Despite having his knee drained earlier in the day and still having a lot of rust on his game, Iverson still managed to hit for 22 points on 7-13 shooting in the Sixers 108-106 loss to Bosh & Co. However, it wasn’t Iverson’s scoring efforts that made this game so special for us, it was this sick assist he had on a bucket by Louis Williams that burned this game from his return into our memories.
4) Iverson “returns” press conference : Iverson has always worn his heart on his sleeve, professed a deep love for and unique bond with the 76ers faithful and 99% of the time Allen has found the right words to say at the right time. However, never before had had all three poured out of Iverson at the same moment and the fact that the words came so freely and with such emotion behind them took this press conference to a level rarely seen in professional sports. Hollywood writers dream at night of writing scripts as captivating and dramatic as Allen’s time in front of the cameras that December day.
5) 4th Quarter vs. Houston (12/11/09) : In just his third game back in a 76ers uniform, “The Answer” hits for 20 points on 7-18 shooting and grabs 5 boards, but the box score does not tell the tale of this game for A.I. With the Sixers trailing the Rockets 76-64 at the start of the 4th Q, Iverson simply took over. First he hit one of his trademark floaters. Next came a length of the court, driving lay-in with an AND 1. Then he drained a jumper. Iverson followed that by grabbing a defensive rebound, leading the break and making a sick pass to AI9 for the flush. Allen continued his 4th Q dominance by getting to the line on consecutive possessions and knocking down 3 of 4 FTs. Finally he pumped in another jumper to pull the Sixers within three at 94-91 with one-minute left in the game. Unfortunately Iverson’s 4th Q heroics were wasted as Aaron Brooks hit a loose ball prayer that won the game for the Rockets.