“I can’t help imagining, Vick, McNabb, Rollins and Iverson all playing in the City of Brotherly Love……..Picture That!”
— A recent Allen Iverson Twitter entry
If Allen Iverson can ponder his return to Philadelphia publicly, then why can’t I?
After all, very few players were as closely associated with their team as Allen Iverson was with the 76ers during his turbulent and terrific tenure there. He was the teams’ most consistent and outstanding player, and it was nearly impossible to hold a relevant conversation about the team without mentioning Allen. He single-handily rescued the team from mediocrity for a decade, taking the fans on a wild ride that included stops at All-Star games, playoff series, and a long-awaited stop at the NBA Finals (a destination that the team has yet to even approach since Allen’s departure). Allen was a bona fide superstar, and his tremendous triumphs on the court consistently made me happy to be a Sixers fan. And then something happened. Allen was traded. I will never forget the moment. I was shopping in Best Buy, re-upping on the latest rap albums, when my phone rang and I was informed by my friend on the other line that Allen, along with my dreams of his bringing a title to Philadelphia, had been shipped to Denver.
At first, the news felt like a hard blow to the stomach, as I had long ago realized that I would never so strongly associate with or be as captivated by one player on one team as I had been by Allen during his years in the City of Brotherly Love. The news however, did not come as a total shock, as trade rumors and speculations had been swirling around for weeks, which granted me ample time to prepare myself mentally for A.I.’s departure from the only team he had ever known. But, as I quickly learned, reality is much harder to face than speculation, and over the next couple days it became increasingly difficult to accept the fact that I was soon going to see Allen in powder blue and yellow on a nightly basis rather than the familiar black, blue, and red.
Fast forward a couple years. How quickly we forget. After a couple statistically solid, but overall underwhelming seasons as a Nugget, and a disastrous stop in Detroit, Allen is on the market again, with very few suitors, as most have written The Answer off as “over the hill,” and “past his prime.” Although, I have no real rebuttal to the detractors who claim that his days in Detroit destroyed him, except to say that the team was not the correct fit for the four-time scoring champion, I seem to possess a better memory than most. Wasn’t it not too long ago that Allen was consistently leading the league in scoring, and dragging an otherwise mediocre team along with him? Was it really that long ago that he had one of the most impressive individual seasons in NBA history, grabbing the MVP award and Eastern Conference Championship trophy while leading the championship-hungry Sixers to their first Finals appearance since the early 80’s? And does the man not annually get selected by the fans to start in the All-Star game, a credit to his enormous popularity? No, I’m not saying that Allen is still the same caliber player that he was during that 2001 Finals run. I’m simply saying that players of that talent do not fall off so quickly, and Allen stay has some gas left in the tank. Two years ago, he averaged 26 and 7 dimes per, and now no one wants him? Are people fooling themselves? One bad season and people are ready to write off one of the most individual impressive careers in recent memory? Four scoring titles, an MVP award, double-digit All-Star selections, and this man is struggling to find work? Despite the fact that his talents might be diminishing with age, which understandably makes teams reluctant to sign him to a long-term deal, Allen could still greatly contribute to any team in the League right now, and provide an enormous spark offensively.
After deliberating on all the possible options for Allen’s future for weeks now, I have decided that there is only one fitting place for Allen to end his FHOF career: Philadelphia. Now before anyone jumps down my throat, let me say that this is neither a prediction nor a speculation, rather just a dream or a wish from a die hard fan of the two entities. The middling Sixers are in no shape to sign a player of Iverson’s age or contract, and I can’t image Allen being too excited about returning to a struggling Sixers squad. But, one can dream. I mean, the two owe it to each other. The Sixers are the team that put up with Allen’s off-court antics for a decade, allowing him to become the face of the franchise and one of the true stars of the League. Meanwhile, as a player, Allen did everything he possible could for the franchise, playing his hardest on a nightly basis, and helping to create a buzz and excitement around the team that had not been felt for quite a while prior to his arrival, and has not been paralleled since his departure. Not to mention the fact that Iverson alone greatly increased revenue and ticket sales for the organization, and navigated them to their first and only Finals appearance in over twenty years.
So, isn’t it fitting for these two, who have done so much for each other, to reunite, allowing Allen to end his exceptional career in the only uniform that he trulylooked right in? Like I said, I don’t care that Ed Stefanski has proclaimed of Allen that the Sixers, “don’t see him in our plans with the age of our kids”. A fan can dream, and if the dream doesn’t materialize and Allen Iverson provides me no new memories in a 76ers uniform, at least I have ten years of unforgettable ones.