Iverson signs with 76ers, will debut Monday
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PHILADELPHIA (AP)Allen Iverson's first stint with the Philadelphia 76ers ended with the team yanking his nameplate off his locker and editing him out of video highlights before he was even traded. The Sixers might want to find him a new locker and cue up some clips. Philly fans, pull out that No. 3 jersey from the closet. A.I. is a Sixer again. In a move that appeared farfetched after their acrimonious split in 2006, the 76ers reunited with the briefly retired Iverson on Wednesday in a move designed to spike sagging attendance and fill in for the injured Lou Williams. Coach Eddie Jordan said Iverson will likely start and stay the entire season. "I told him I would like for him to start, and that's where it sort of ended," Jordan said. "And he was really like a kid at Christmas." Iverson will make his debut Monday night at home against Denver - one of three teams he's called home since leaving Philly. The 10-time All-Star-turned-journeyman is determined to prove he still has something to offer in that No. 3 jersey. He antagonized his coaches and opponents his first time around. Perhaps humbled, he signed after being reduced to a bench player in Denver and Memphis and forced to accept the veteran's minimum salary to return to his NBA roots. "If there's going to be a chance for him to do it and make it work, there's no doubt in my mind Philadelphia is the best spot for him to try and do it," team president Ed Stefanski said. Stefanski took a low risk financially to sign Iverson, but possibly derailed the long-term improvement of a slumping team tying to build around a core of young players. Rookie Jrue Holiday, who started at point guard for Williams, heads to the bench, and Jordan's Princeton offense could hit the scrap heap. The Iverson-to-Philly talks were underway once Williams was lost for eight weeks with a broken jaw. Stefanski said he never would have considered a second act for Iverson had it not been for the injury. Iverson's reps asked Stefanski about a possible comeback last week. Iverson, his agent and business manager met with Stefanski and Jordan on Monday to jump-start contract talks. Iverson was offered a one-year, non-guaranteed contract Tuesday, according to a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the talks were private. He accepted the deal early Wednesday.
Iverson will get a look at another former team after playing Denver. The Sixers play at home Dec. 9 against Detroit. Sixers leading scorer Andre Iguodala, a former Iverson teammate, said he gave management the OK to make the move. "That was pretty easy," he said. "I think all the guys on our team, whether they've played with him or not, realize what he can do. He can play." Iverson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 draft, but his 10 turbulent seasons in Philadelphia were marred by rants about practice, run-ins with former coach Larry Brown, arrests and a failed rap career. In one infamous blowup at the end of the 2002 season, he repeated the word "practice" nearly 20 times during a rambling monologue. "Times change, situations change," Luukko said. "The best way was to make this a basketball decision. Don't get personal with it." Iverson has a career average of 27 points in 889 games over 14 seasons, and is tied for the fifth-highest scoring average in NBA history. He ranks third among active players. "It's a great challenge, and I think it's a motivational aspect to it, too," Jordan said. "Guys are going to be jacked up. He's a winner, he's an assassin on the floor and that sort of thing is contagious."
|"Without really seeing him on the floor, 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. That's off the top of my head. When I woke up this morning, I said, 'Maybe he can be that.' It's not a big maybe. I think he can be that."|
| Sixers coach Eddie Jordan|