NBA All-Star and four-time scoring champion Allen Iverson met with the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday to discuss the possibility of coming out of retirement and playing for the team that got him his professional start.
The two-hour meeting, which took place in Dallas before the Mavericks hosted the Sixers, did not produce a definitive contract but the team’s management has reportedly been given the green light to sign Iverson if suitable terms are worked out, according to one of TNT's NBA sources.
“This afternoon, we met with free agent Allen Iverson in Dallas for the first formal discussion regarding a possible return to the Philadelphia 76ers,” Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski said in a statement posted on the team’s Web site.
“At this time, both parties remain noncommittal regarding a final decision and we will continue to discuss internally whether or not to pursue this course,” the statement read.
The meeting was hosted by Stefanski as well as the team’s assistant GM Tony DiLeo and head and assistant coaches Eddie Jordan and Aaron McKie. Iverson was joined by his agent Leon Rose and personal manager Gary Moore.
Iverson had just announced his retirement last Wednesday through a statement on http://stephena.com, a Web site run by his close friend Stephen A. Smith, a basketball analyst and writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The 34-year-old left the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 17 under mutual terms after taking an extended leave of absence and playing only three games this season.
His mostly bench role on a 6–11 team that sits at the bottom of the Southwest Conference was most likely one of the key drivers for his decision to leave.
If Iverson does end up returning to Philadelphia, it will be like coming back to a broken home—literally and metaphorically.
Iverson was the No. 1 draft pick in 1996 and was grabbed by the Sixers where his role as a leading scoring guard won him the Rookie of the Year Award.
His 10-year stay in Philadelphia transformed him into a basketball icon and a holder of several honors, including NBA MVP in 2001 and All-Star MVP in 2001 and 2005, in addition to a host of scoring titles.
He led the Sixers to the NBA finals in 2001 but the team lost to the Los Angeles Lakers and struggled to regain the championship opportunity again despite Iverson’s continued high scoring.
Iverson left Philadelphia on sour terms in 2006 after repeated clashes with the team’s new coach Jim O’Brien and top management.
But the team always held a special place in his heart. “I have wonderful memories of my days in a Sixers’ uniform,” is how Iverson closed his retirement statement.
In that regard, his return would mark an important career milestone. It would allow him to make amends with his first love, and more importantly, help the team hopefully get back to where they were in 2001.
Iverson has yet to win a championship and the Sixers are likely in no position to make a run for it this season, standing at 5–12. But there's always next season.