Can somebody please quickly photo-shop a picture of Iverson in a 76ers jersey for me?! Oh what? never mind...
How ironic is it that, for the first time, a jaw wired shut is the Sixers' biggest problem at point guard and their answer to it all is ...well, the answer, who has never known when or how to completely keep his mouth wired shut? Sometimes the NBA is too Hollywood for its own good. Just when we all thought Allen Iverson was about to 'start' anew as a-New York Knick and effectively complete his eerie, downward transformation into Stephon Marbury 2.0, the Knicks ended up making a complete 180 by saying "no" to Regis Philbin's final answer and opening the door for the Philadelphia 76ers to complete their own 360-turn in their ongoing love-hate relationship with one gritty and dynamic, 6-foot point guard out of Georgetown.
After Allen Iverson quickly made 'not starting' his own 'personal matter' in Memphis by basically forcing the Grizzlies (the only team gracious (or insane) enough to offer him a contract this past summer) to cut their losses and waive him, the Sixers effectively cut to the chase (though 'chase' is probably not the right word in this scenario) after losing their starting guard Louis Williams for 2 months and waved a second 'Hello' to their one-time MVP guard on Wednesday. Although these days, that MVP part of Iverson has become more and more a distant memory in many people's final assessment of his colored legacy - one that's, unfortunately, been greatly overshadowed by all of his snobby remarks, selfish complaints, and incessant practice/bench hating (I bet he wouldn't have had as bad a bench experience if his bench did cooler, more productive things during games like the Lakers bench).
Regardless, Iverson is back in his old stomping grounds of Philadelphia, where he hopes to party like its 2001 all over again - the year of his own personal 1776 independence, when he alone reigned free. He'll finally get his wish this season and start, and he'll most likely start even when Louis Williams returns, either at the 1 or the 2 - unless anyone thinks Willie Green is going to stop him. Yeah no. Free Willy couldn't stop Iverson from starting at this point. With the Sixers on a 7-game losing streak and rookie-guard Jrue Holiday struggling to hold the fort down in Williams' absence, Allen Iverson was the best and only option available for the floundering squad - an option that can still score in a flurry, still help a team win some games, and still sell a couple extra tickets on the side. And yes, he will still make the Eastern Conference All-Stars team (It's like death and taxes baby - a certainty).
Iverson looked healthy enough in Memphis, and during the short moments he was allotted time, he was able to produce and even take over the game at the quick rate only AI can. How much Allen Iverson ends up dominating the ball and disrupting the offense on a squad with "AI Iggy" and Elton Brand remains to be seen, but one thing's for sure: the Sixers should no longer lack a true go-to man to turn to in the 4th quarter with A.I. once again at the helm. He'll have some big, exciting, vintage games where he'll score a ton and he might even average 6-7 assists, but if he truly wants to rewrite his final chapter in Philly under better terms, he'll have to do it by not only winning games, but by winning his teammates and his coaches over with a renewed sense of leadership and cooperation (at the very least, compromise). But who am I kidding? Just let Iverson jack up 20 shots a game and average at least 23 pts, 6 assists, and 2 steals a game for my fantasy team, please.
A little 51-point throwback against Vinsanity in the 2001 Eastern Conference Semi's.
I for one, am genuinely still excited to see the little warrior play because no matter how much drama is always seemingly surrounding him, he still always manages to make it seem like he's playing for his championship life out there on the court each and every single night. His rawest, truest moments as a player and person are seen out on that court, not in the press conference like we're led to believe, when he gets an and1 off a hard blow or hits a clutch jumper and screams in infectious passion. Which makes it all the more sad that such a hard-working, passionare player of Iverson's caliber refuses to go out in a greater blaze of glory and humbly accept a contributing role on a team much better equipped than the Sixers to match his championship ferocity. Then again, at this point, so much damage has already been done to his image that no contender would even dare entertain playing with that kind of fire. But what does that say about Iverson when even Stephon Marbarbie-world was able to make a relatively sane and productive contribution to the Boston Celtics' playoff run last season? I don't know. But at least Iverson isn't wearing a #3 Knicks jersey in honor of Starbury this year.
In the end, I feel kind of jipped that Iverson left the Grizzlies without even having one of his token press conference moments where he either cries, has Larry Brown suddenly pop up out of nowhere, or reiterates the same word a countless number of times. Although, he did provide a little something new this time by retiring for about a week after only playing for about a week...
"The Bench? We talkin' 'bout the bench? Not starting...not starting the game I love - the game I go out there and start for...but playing off the bench. Man, how silly is that? We sittin' here, I'm 'spose to be franchise player, and we in here talkin' bout the bench."
Whether or not Iverson can truly resurrect his career and help turn the struggling Sixers into a competitive team once again will be the main, ongoing questions of his stop-gap stay this season. But if he can at least recreate some of those magical press-interview moments that made him such an entertaining spectacle to watch and listen to, it will all have been worth it in the end. Well, at least for DJ Steve Porter, who likes to make song remixes centered around Allen Iverson quotables.
Joking aside, the little girly fanboy in me (starburst contradiction I know) truly wants to give Iverson the benefit of the doubt this time around and say that he will recapture a piece of his glory days and lead the 76ers to the playoffs, but it's definitely hard to do that when all Iverson has left us with lately are very many doubts with very little to no benefits. We'll get our first answer next Monday, when A.I. is prepared to make his home debut against another one of his old teams, the Denver Nuggets. Once again - perfect poetry. Poetry?! We talkin' about - just kidding. Welcome back, A.I., welcome back.
Some wrong Answers just always seem so right,
The Fridge (Jonathan Hernandez)