Allen Iverson's return to the Wells Fargo Center with the BIG3 league didn't go as planned. The 3's Company player coach/captain was only on the sidelines coaching after he announced he would not be suiting up around half-an-hour before the games began.
"To all my fans out there, based on advice from my doctor I will not be playing in the game tonight for the BIG3," Iverson said on Instagram. "I will be there to coach my team and beat Dr. J's team. I will be interacting with all my fans and we will have a great time. You will see some great basketball. I love you fans for supporting me all of the years up to date and I'll see you when I get there."
The exact cause of Iverson not playing was not specified. Neither he nor BIG3 co-founder Ice Cube spoke to the media after the game.
Iverson was the main draw to the game in Philadelphia. He received a loud standing ovation from the Iverson jersey-clad crowd when he was introduced in his matchup against Tri-State, coached by fellow Hall of Famer Julius Erving. The arena turned into a sea of phones as fans held theirs up to capture Iverson's message when he addressed them before tipoff.
"I'm glad I had a chance to come back home to Philadelphia," Iverson said prior to the game, wearing a t-shirt with 'The Answer' and the No. 3 across the back. "I always tell people that some athletes have relationships with their fans. Michael Jordan with the fans in Chicago. LeBron (James) with the fans in Cleveland. Kobe (Bryant) with the fans in L.A. Ain't nothing like this relationship that we have. It don't get no better than this.
"I thank ya'll and I love ya'll for supporting me throughout my career and still today ya'll continue to support me. I'm always going to be Philly and Philly's always going to be in my heart."
Iverson's opponents found out he wasn't playing the same time as the fans. While the players from Tri-State were happy with their victory over 3's Company, Bonzi Wells looked at the situation from the crowd's perspective.
"Allen is the guy who drives our league," Wells said. "He's one of the biggest names in our league. We were hoping that he was going to play for the fans. And this is what it's all about, it's about the fans. It was tough, but we got the win so it's good for us."
It remains to be seen if Iverson will play next weekend in Chicago. Whether or not he is on the court, his impact is felt throughout the BIG3 league.
"Bubba Chuck my childhood idol," said Trilogy's Rashad McCants, the No. 1 pick in the BIG3 draft. "Growing up, a lot of my game comes from influence - the style, the tattoo, the headband. To have a guy like that be a part of this is the reason why I signed up."