PHILADELPHIA, December 4 – Allen Iverson, who thought his NBA career was over, instead found himself Thursday rejoining the team where he spent his greatest seasons."When I had the opportunity to come back here," Iverson said – his voice cracking – "I couldn’t turn it down. I’m just happy."
Philadelphia president Ed Stefanski confirmed Wednesday that the team was bringing Iverson back to the club where he spent 10 seasons.
Iverson posted the highest scoring average in team history (28.1). He was second on the team’s points list with 19,583 and holds the record for 3-pointers with 877.
A 10-time NBA All-Star, Iverson led the 76ers to the NBA finals in 2001.
But Iverson and the 76ers parted in acrimony three years ago. He refused to play the fourth quarter of a game in Chicago and was banished from the team two days later.
He was eventually traded to Denver, and from there to Detroit before he landed in Memphis.
He played three games with Memphis this season before taking a leave of absence to deal with personal matters, and he was waived after he and the Grizzlies agreed to part ways.
Last week Iverson announced his retirement, but now he’s slated to play his first game of this stint with the 76ers on Monday against Denver.
Iverson’s return has the city buzzing.
The 76ers said they had 327,657 page views on their website Wednesday once his signing was announced – up from 36,000 the previous Wednesday.
The Sixers, 29th in the NBA in attendance, have not yet sold out Monday’s game.
Stefanski again insisted the move was not designed to sell tickets, merchandise but simply to bring in a player to replace Lou Williams. Williams is to miss two months with a broken jaw, and Stefanski said Iverson was the best available free agent.
"If the byproduct is we get more attendance, this guy brings more excitement to the building, that’s great," Stefanski said. "But to consistently have that going forward, you’ve got to win basketball games."
The Sixers need a spark. They have lost eight straight games going into Saturday’s contest at Charlotte.
Iverson, a 10-time All-Star guard who has scored more than 24,000 points, signed a non-guaranteed deal with the 76ers and said he’s ready to prove he can contribute.
"I want to fit in. I want to be a part of any success we have," Iverson said. "I just want to be one of the guys. I don’t need a whole bunch of praise. I don’t need a whole lot of accolades. I just want to play basketball."