If Allen Iverson was overcome with emotions at his welcome back press conference last week in front of a room full of reporters, it's hard to imagine what the future Hall of Famer will feel tonight when he's given a hero's welcome in front of a packed house of screaming fans at the Wachovia Center.
Whether you like the decision to give Allen Iverson a second chapter in his Sixers' legacy or not, the theater it will create tonight is undeniable. Whether or not the love-fest will last all depends on how A.I. plays on the court. To be honest, however, I'm just excited that he'll be out there at all.
But make no mistakes about it, A.I. isn't going to step in to the Sixers line up and run for forty minutes. He may not even see half of that in the beginning. After one practice with the team yesterday, Iverson admitted to being out of shape and winded. He said he'll play tonight though and Eddie Jordan anticipates he'll start. Even that is a somewhat symbolic move it seems.
Iverson says his game is a bit rusty. He felt like he was in a nice rhythm coming in to Memphis but the layoff has messed with that. "Tomorrow, that whole thing is probably more for the fans than anything
else. It’s going to take a while. It’s frustrating for me because I was
kind of in a rhythm before I left Memphis, then sitting out as much as
I did I got off beat a little, but it won't take but a little while for
me to get it back," A.I. said at practice yesterday.
It seems that most fans, if they haven't welcomed the move, have at least come to terms with the fact that this flat-lining Sixers team needed a shot in the arm to get anyone in this town interested in professional basketball right now.
When I first heard that the Sixers were kicking the tires on A.I. two weeks or so ago, I thought it'd be a great sideshow -- the "bearded lady" or the "beer chugging bear" as Bob Ford put it -- but after watching that press conference and hearing Iverson talk about the fans of this city and his time here, Iverson swayed me. I hope he isn't just a sideshow, I hope he finds a way to put a respectable ending together to a great career. He shouldn't go out complaining about coming off the bench in Detroit or Memphis. The final chapter in A.I.'s career has yet to be written, but it could be much more positive than that fiasco in Memphis. That is, if he wants it to.
Tonight, Allen Iverson will bring back his electricity to the building he made it famous in. The final chapter will be awfully fun to watch -- at least for a while.
>>An AI start "anticipated" [DN]
Allen talking at practice yesterday: