Friday, December 4, 2009
We have all heard the story in the bible about a man who had two sons. This man was a wealthy landowner, who if he were living today, would probably be thought of as a baller and a shot caller. His one son got to "smellin' himself", as my grandmother would say, and left for greener pastures.
Well, he got to where he was going and he partied like the big dog... drinking, chasing women, and buying everything he was big enough to buy until one day, he was as broke as a bad joke. He had gone out and "tore his ass", something else my late grandmother used to say. He was in such bad shape that he was out in the trough, eating slop with the hogs. If that's not rock bottom, I don't know what is.
Finally, he said to himself... "Self, I don't have to live like this. My father has mansions, fine clothes for me to wear, and good food for me to eat. I'm outta here. I'm going home!" The son went home and his father first saw him coming down the road... pretty much ass out. He was so glad to see that son who had been missing that he ran down the road and welcomed his wayward boy back with welcome arms.
That's a great story, though somehow, I always wondered how the son who had been there all the time and hadn't run off felt about the matter. I always figured that son would more than likely be me.
Somehow, I wonder if the other A.I., Andre Igoudala, will feel the same way, now that the original A.I., Allen Iverson, is once again a 76er. I meant to write about this a few days ago but (like everybody else), I got sidelined by Tiger Woods and Mo Clemmons.
As you probably know by now Allen Iverson, is returning to the franchise where he was an NBA MVP (2001), calling it an opportunity he couldn't turn down. The 10-time All-Star guard signed a non-guaranteed deal with the 76ers on Wednesday and said at the Wachovia Center that he's ready to prove he can still play. "I want to retire here", Iverson said Thursday.
The 34-year-old Iverson was teary-eyed almost from the start of his news conference. He said he retired after his ill-fated stint with the Memphis Grizzlies because he felt like "the basketball part of my life was over." Allen Iverson will play his first game for the 76ers against Denver on Monday. "Coming back home, all I could think about was the people who made me who I am", said Iverson. Philadelphia hasn't won a playoff series since 2003. Sad ain't it?
In 10 seasons with the Sixers, Iverson posted the highest scoring average in team history (28.1), was second on the points list (19,583), and holds the record for 3-pointers (877). He was a seven-time All-Star, won four scoring titles, and two All-Star game MVPs. He had a bitter parting with the 76ers in December 2006 and was traded to Denver. He's also played with Detroit and three games this season with the Memphis Grizzlies.
"I always thought it was strange having another uniform", Iverson said. "I couldn't feel comfortable with another uniform." Flanked by team president Ed Stefanski, Iverson said he dreamed of returning to the 76ers. "I watch other NBA teams. I can't watch the Sixers", he said. "Ever since I left, I wasn't able to. Not because there was any bitterness, it was just a feeling I get. I gave everything I had here for 10 years. It was just always tough for me to watch them so, I didn't."
Iverson was apologetic for his past behavior and said he acted a lot on anger. "I don't want to prove anyone wrong in this situation. I'm not in it for that", he said. "If I can help my team win basketball games the way Coach wants me to help, then I'll be satisfied." 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 but, of course, we all know that... just turn on Sportscenter and whenever a sportscaster talks about him, they repeat "Practice? Practice?" The joke is old now.
No one is happier than I that A.I. is back but I don't think there is much he's going to be able to do to help this team. To date, the 76ers have lost about 9 straight games at my last count and they're about 5-13. They've got some promising young players who need time on the court and experience. Most of all, this team has got to learn how to win again. Times have changed... A.I. isn't the same and the Sixers aren't the same. The most he's going to do is put butts in seats but besides that, right now, I see little else. Then again, there is an eternal optimist in me that wants to believe and needs to believe that maybe... just maybe... the Sixers with A.I. might just turn a corner.
Our prodigal son went to Denver, Detroit, and finally Memphis. When the lowly Knicks didn't want him, that must have been the equivalent of hitting rock bottom. So, he returned to his "father"... who unlike the father in the bible, needed him back as much as he needed to be back. So, when he became available, the "father" met him at the road with open arms.
I hope Elton Brand, Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, and Thaddeus Young see it that way too!