Anybody who is a Sixers fan or just a basketball fan in general had to love watching Allen Iverson in that emotional press conference yesterday. Watching him tear up and letting the world know how much he loves being back in Philly sent chills down my spine. Now that his strange month-long odyssey is out of the way, it’s time for him and everybody to get the focus back on basketball.
No doubt, there are and will be plenty of questions about how A.I. will fit in with this team. Whether or not he can rejuvenate this struggling squad (5-14) that has now lost eight straight. And whether drama will continue to surrounding him. Nobody knows the future, but if I were to guess, here are five things I could envision happening this season for the Answer and the Sixers.
5. The Other A.I. Will Be Affected: Remember Andre Iguodala and Iverson were teammates before in Philly for two-and-a-half seasons. But a lot has changed since then. Iguodala has now taken the role as the go-to guy and commands most of the shots. As we learned in Memphis and Detroit, Iverson doesn’t like taking a reduced role. But since Iguodala’s way obviously isn’t working too well and Iverson realizes he’s not the same player he was five years ago, there will have to be a compromise on both sides. No question that Iguodala’s points and shots will be affected, but if it means more wins for the team I don’t see it as being an issue for the other A.I.
4. Iverson Will Start All Year: Coach Eddie Jordan has already stated that Iverson will start right away. But what happens when Lou Williams comes back from a jaw injury in a month or two? Williams was having sort of a breakout season before he got hurt, but for the better of the team he will come off the bench if need be. Louis came into the league learning under Iverson and has deep respect for him. Everyone knows, Iverson needs to start to be happy and to be effective.
3. The Role Players Will Thrive: Back in Iverson’s glory days with the Sixers, role players like Eric Snow, Aaron McKie, Jumaine Jones and Todd MacCulloch really thrived. Guys who come in and know their role, work hard and let Iverson run this team will be successful. I can see Marreese Speights meshing well with A.I. after he gets back from injury. Other guys that will probably benefit playing with Iverson will be Thaddeus Young, Willie Green and Williams.
2. Iverson Will Average 20 And The Sixers Will Be In The Playoffs: Especially if you’re an Iverson fan, it’s very easy to fall into the hype and think everything will work out perfectly. The Sixers will still struggle at times and Iverson will probably have a few injuries along the way, but no doubt this team will be a lot better with him in the lineup. He will (and is still capable) average around 20 ppg. Like he did with Gilbert Arenas, I think coach Jordan will give him the green light to go out and play his game. With the fans behind them, Philly will turn things around and will finish the season at around 40 wins, which should be enough for the seventh or eighth seeds in the playoffs.
1. No More Drama…Not Much Anyway: People will be keeping a close eye whether Iverson will clash with Jordan or Iggy or Elton Brand. While there might be a small argument here or there, the bottom line is everybody on board wants to win. The Sixers knew what they were bringing in when they signed him and I think they understand they have to adjust a little to A.I.’s personality. Iverson knows what is at stake as far as his legacy and reputation is concerned. Unlike Stephon Marbury in New York, there is no way Iverson wants to leave the city he loves on a bad note.
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