Breaking: 76ers Meet With Iverson
Iverson and top Sixers officials met to discuss a possible return to the team, a scenario once thought impossible after their acrimonious split three years ago. Team president Ed Stefanski said in a statement that both parties remain noncommittal about a final decision after a nearly two-hour meeting Monday in Dallas.
Iverson, his agent and business manager met with Stefanski, coach Eddie Jordan and two other members of the organization during the first formal meeting between the Sixers and their former MVP.
Stefanski said the Sixers “will continue to discuss internally whether or not to pursue this course.”
The 76ers were in Dallas to play the Mavericks on Monday night. Jordan said before the game Iverson still has something left to contribute—even though no other team has expressed serious interest in signing the former All-Star.
“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.”
The 10-time All-Star, who retired last week, is among the free-agent candidates the Sixers are considering to replace injured point guard Lou Williams, who’s expected to miss eight weeks after jaw surgery.
Iverson announced his intention to retire last week after no other team expressed an interest is signing the four-time scoring champion. 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.
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 entering Monday and are 13th in the Eastern Conference in Jordan’s first season on the bench.
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.
“He’s a guy that’s been to the top, a guy that’s been to the finals, a guy that would be an extra weapon on the floor for us,” Jordan said.
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.
Fed up with Iverson’s antics in 2006, Snider declared “we’re going to trade him” 11 days before the Sixers sent him to Denver. His approval was considered necessary for Iverson and the Sixers to reunite. But it appears he’ll let Stefanski make the final call.
“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.”
Of course, Iverson has antagonized coaches in each conference with his unwillingness to fit into their offense.
Iverson would find two of his former head coaches in Philly. Randy Ayers lasted only 52 games as a rookie head coach in the 2003-04 season. He returned to the team this year as an assistant. Chris Ford was an interim coach in 2003-04 and is now a pro scout for the organization.
Iverson was joined by longtime business manager Gary Moore and agent Leon Rose in the meeting. Rose did not immediately return a call for comment.
Iverson led the Sixers to the NBA finals in 2001. The Sixers have not won a playoff series since 2003.