Nearly three years after Allen Iverson was banished from South Philadelphia, he will return to the Wachovia Center court that he once ruled.
Yes, he played here as a Nugget, but this time he won’t be wearing an unfamiliar road jersey -- instead he will don the patriotic colors of the home team.
The whole thing is a homecoming that has Philly talking about A.I. and Iverson talking about Philly.
“I feel like I am home,” Iverson said at shoot around. “Just seeing people I'm accustomed to seeing, seeing the reporters, seeing some of the fans when I go out to eat. Just the smell of Philadelphia when I go outside.”
The signing was possibly more about excitement and selling tickets than it was about basketball. But, both should be on display Monday.
The place should be bumping by the time the PA announcer booms, “In his 14th season out of Georgetown, please welcome back ‘The Answer,’ Allen Ivvvveeeeeerrrrrrsssssooooonnnnnn.”
But, fans in the sold-out Wac Center shouldn’t expect answers as to how much A.I. really has left in his tank, according to Iverson.
He said he has some concerns about playing in game condition.
“If I can't get my scoring on like I want to, I just want to do other things on the basketball court that will help us win,” Iverson said.
Iverson might start but he won’t be playing 40 minutes a night right away like he used to do in his Sixers hey day. Head Coach Eddie Jordan plans on using “The Answer” in shorter bursts to start.
The Sixers need any sort of burst right now. They lost nine straight games entering Monday and hope Iverson can lead them back into the win column.
He obviously already helped in the sales department: Monday is the first sell out of the season.
Win or lose, Monday should be all about the love.
“In your dreams, you always hope for the best,” Iverson said. “That's what I'm doing. I love these people here. They know that. They love me back. Hopefully, it'll just be a great experience.”
“Hopefully, I don't get emotional because it will take away from my game.”