Monday, November 30, 2009
76ers meet with Iverson
By Marc Stein
DALLAS -- The prospect of a reunion between franchise icon Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers became more tangible Monday when Iverson and his representatives met for two hours in Dallas with Sixers coach Eddie Jordan and general manager Ed Stefanski.
The face-to-face meeting with Iverson, agent Leon Rose and Iverson's longtime business manager, Gary Moore, took place hours before the Sixers' game Monday night against the Dallas Mavericks.
"All of us liked what he talked about today. I'm not going to share that," Jordan said. "He's a charming individual. It was really good, really intriguing."
Sixers assistant general manager Tony DiLeo and assistant coach Aaron McKie -- one of Iverson's favorite former teammates -- were also present at the sitdown, which was considered a must if the Sixers decide to go ahead with bringing the franchise icon back in the wake of Lou Williams' broken jaw.
But no firm decision on signing Iverson has been reached and none was expected before the game Monday night, according to sources close to the situation. Stefanski said in a statement that both parties remained noncommittal the team would "continue to discuss internally whether or not to pursue this course."
According to a report on longtime Philadelphia columnist Stephen A. Smith's Web site, Tuesday is also when Iverson is scheduled to meet with his former Georgetown coach, John Thompson. Thompson responded to Iverson's retirement announcement Wednesday by telling ESPN Radio 980 in Washington, D.C., that he intended to try to talk Iverson out of retirement.
The 6-foot Iverson played three games this season with Memphis before taking a leave of absence to attend to personal matters. He was waived after the two sides agreed to part ways.
The New York Knicks considered signing Iverson after he cleared waivers, before deciding he would take too much playing time from younger players they are trying to develop.
Sixers guard Andre Iguodala said Iverson could have trouble fitting in with Jordan's Princeton offense.
"The offensive system that we have is kind of complex so it might take him some time to adjust," he said. "But just from a basketball standpoint, he can come in and play."
Iverson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 draft, played 10-plus seasons with the 76ers. He was traded to Denver in December 2006, and was then dealt to Detroit early last season.
The 34-year-old Iverson, who has never won an NBA championship, wouldn't be returning to a winner in Philadelphia. The Sixers have lost six straight games and are 13th in the Eastern Conference under first-year coach Eddie Jordan.
Williams' injury has paved the way for rookie Jrue Holiday, the 17th pick in the draft, to start.
Iverson had a bitter parting with the Sixers in 2006, making this a truly surprising reconciliation. But both parties are in various states of desperation. The Sixers need a guard on the roster and an electrifying personality such as Iverson to jolt sagging ticket sales. Iverson wants to prove he's not finished yet and can still play at his All-Star level.
Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the 76ers and Flyers, is leaving the decision up to Stefanski.
"While nothing has been decided ... I support him and his basketball decisions," he said Monday.
Snider declared "we're going to trade him" 11 days before the Sixers sent Iverson to Denver in 2006. His approval was considered necessary for Iverson and the Sixers to reunite. But it appears he'll let Stefanski make the final call.
Iverson led the Sixers to the NBA Finals in 2001. The Sixers have not won a playoff series since 2003.
Marc Stein covers the NBA for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.