Allen Iverson on Aaron McKie: 'I owe a lot to him'

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Allen Iverson on Aaron McKie: 'I owe a lot to him'

Allen Iverson was the centerpiece of the Sixers for the 10-plus years he was in Philadelphia. He made 11 All-Star teams, seven All-NBA teams, won four scoring titles and a league MVP award.

But he did not accomplish those things as a one-man band.

“Without my teammates none of this, the accomplishments I have had in my career, they would not have happened without those guys,” Iverson rightfully acknowledged during his retirement ceremony on Wednesday (see story). “Those guys set screens for me, they played hard for me and they were with me the whole way in allowing me to become a household name.”

Teammates came and went in Iverson’s 14-year career, but friendships were also made, and one such relationship in particular resonates with Iverson as special.

The question was simple: Which of your teammates stood out the most as a positive influence on you?

There was no hesitation in Iverson’s answer and it was wrapped in true, heartfelt gratitude.

“Aaron McKie,” Iverson said and he repeated the name three more times. “I mean he was my teammate but he was on another level. He was my teammate but he was my friend.”

Iverson paused long and hard in between his thoughts, fighting back tears.

“He helped me so much in my career,” Iverson continued. “I talk about the mistakes that I made in my career. I made a million of them, but if it weren’t for Aaron McKie I would have made two million of them. He is just somebody I always listened to and could talk to about anything.”

Iverson always has a way with words and the one million, two million comment brought laughter to a very emotional moment for him.

And in sharing a friendship with McKie, Iverson learned a life lesson: Stay open to new experiences.

“I had guys I grew up with that I loved and cared about and I have a lot of admiration and respect for them, but this is a guy that I met up here on the high level,” Iverson said. “People say once you get to that level you don’t want any more new friends. I don’t need them, I have enough of them. But don’t close that door because people like him do come along in life, and I just owe a lot to him.”

What Iverson feels for McKie is a two-way street.

“I have never had a problem expressing to him how I felt about a situation, something in a game or get here on time or do this, do that,” McKie said. “He knew I was going to be honest and respected that, and the thing that I respected was that he never really cared what people thought about him and never changed himself. I have a lot of respect for people who feel that way.”

Mutual respect and no regrets were the themes of Iverson’s retirement announcement. Throughout the course of The Answer fielding questions, there was clarity about the core of Iverson’s message.

“I am not wasting time thinking about if I go back in time because you can’t change it. It is what it is. This is who I am and I think I did pretty good with who and what I am,” McKie surmised.

Only the best of friends could have summed up A.I. in such a description.

Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor to play Sunday, Joel Embiid out (right elbow)

Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor to play Sunday, Joel Embiid out (right elbow)

CAMDEN, N.J. — Two bigs back, one big out.

Nerlens Noel will make his regular-season debut Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Noel has been out since the preseason after undergoing elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October.

Jahlil Okafor also will return following a bout of gastroenteritis, which sidelined him for the last three games. Neither Noel nor Okafor will have minute restrictions. 

Joel Embiid, on the other hand, will not play Sunday. He will miss the game because of minor inflammation in his right elbow, which he suffered in Thursday’s game against the Pelicans. The decision also is in conjunction with the load management plan the Sixers have mapped out for him. Embiid did not practice Saturday and will not travel to Detroit. 

“It’s very minor and we expect him back soon. Not much concern at all,” Brett Brown said of Embiid, adding, “I think it’s far more precautionary than anything people should get nervous about.”

With Embiid out, the addition of Noel will help the Sixers when they battle the Pistons and big man Andre Drummond, who is averaging a dominating 15.0 points, 13.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks this season. Noel will come off the bench as he gets reacclimated to the team and the flow of the game. 

“I felt great [to be cleared to play],” Noel said. “I was anticipating it so I got my mind right and this is what I’ve been working for throughout the whole rehab process. I’m feeling good and looking forward to it.” 

The Sixers are mindful of the fact Noel has not played in a regular season game since the finale last April. He has been working on getting his wind back up, and the Sixers will watch it closely in-game when determining his playing time. Noel said he has a “good starting foundation” with his conditioning. 

“You can do as much as you want on a treadmill,” Brown said. “You can do as much as you want one-on-zero … but there is nothing that’s like an NBA game. Everything goes faster, everything goes quicker, you have emotions involved which can also drown how fast and how long you can go. Those things are just part of him coming back into it, and we’ll manage him accordingly.”

Noel’s debut is the first step for him, regardless of how many plays. His athleticism will give another look to the lineup. Brown foresees having Noel back will allow the Sixers to play faster and protect the rim with a greater “bounce.” 

“We miss playing with Nerlens, just his presence,” Okafor said. “He’s an athlete. Obviously we miss him on the defensive side. We miss him as a leader vocally. It’s just going to be great having him back on the floor.”

The Sixers could counter the Pistons with the combination of Noel and Okafor, a duo they struggled to utilize together last season. Brown’s decision will be based on matchups. He pointed out a situation in which Drummond and Jon Leuer are on the court would be more favorable than one in which Tobias Harris is playing power forward. 

“You just try to pick your moments where you can maybe pair those guys up,” Brown said. “I think it will be a more genuine conversation as Nerlens starts playing more with us. He’s just really come back into it. But we come back and you play Toronto and you have all three bigs available, then it becomes another level of a conversation. I do look forward to it when we have an opportunity to intelligently match up with other people and we’ll play it out like that.”

The Sixers' next game after Sunday is Wednesday against the Raptors, when they expect to have their bigs ready to go.

Sixers' game vs. Kings rescheduled for Jan. 30

Sixers' game vs. Kings rescheduled for Jan. 30

The NBA has determined a new date for the Sixers home game against the Kings, which was postponed on Nov. 30 because of unsafe playing conditions on the court.

The game has been rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. This will create back-to-backs for both teams.

The Sixers are playing in Chicago on Jan. 29. They will play consecutive games against the Bulls and Kings, then have a road back-to-back against the Mavericks and Spurs on Feb. 1 and 2.

The Kings will be on what is now an eight-game road trip. They will play a back-to-back against the Rockets the next night in Houston.