Overtime: A.I. Returns to Philly

By Melva N. Lloyd

After expressing displeasure with former teams and talks of retirement, Allen Iverson is returning to the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Iverson signed a free-agent contract with Philadelphia on Wednesday, just three years after he was traded from the team that seemingly built his career. 

The Sixers were looking for a replacement starting guard after they lost Lou Williams to injury against the Wizards on Nov. 24th.  Williams broke his jaw and is expected to miss eight weeks after he undergoes surgery. 

Iverson met with team president Ed Stefanski and head coach Eddie Jordan to discuss a possible return to his former team.  Jordan said that the 10-time All-Star will most likely start in place of Rookie Jrue Holiday. 

“…I would like to compare him to Brett Favre, a guy who people think is too old to play and he’s almost having an MVP year.”  Jordan said after meeting with Iverson. 

The Associated Press reported that Iverson was offered a one-year, non-guaranteed contract; the 34-year old played ten seasons with the Sixers mostly under of Larry Brown.  He led the Sixers to the finals in 2001 where he was named league MVP.

As a team, the Sixers are 5-13 this season and lost seven consecutive games upon entering tonight’s matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The organization is hoping that Iverson will spike ticket sales; the Sixers are 29th overall in home game attendance.

Iverson’s main concern with returning to a professional career was his playing time.  But Jordan assured him that he would not be coming off of the bench, “I told him I would like for him to start, and that’s where it sort of ended…he was really like a kid at Christmas.”

Before signing with the Grizzlies, Iverson played his last game with Philadelphia on Dec. 6, 2006 where he refused to play during the fourth quarter, which ultimately led to him being traded to the Denver Nuggets.  After almost two seasons with the Nuggets, Iverson was dealt to the Detroit Pistons.

The former No. 1 draft pick played just three games with Memphis before taking a leave of absence to address “personal matters” and was eventually released from his contract.

After playing 889 games overall, Iverson has a career average of 27 points in 14 seasons and is tied for the fifth-highest scoring average in NBA history.  All these accomplishments even after a turbulent relationship with Larry Brown, refusals to attend practices and an unsuccessful rap-career.

Iverson will dust off his Sixers jersey when he makes his return to the Wachovia Center on Monday against one of his former teams, the Denver Nuggets.

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