Allen Iverson Comes Out of Brief Retirement, Signs With 76ers


December 2, 2009

Allen Iverson Comes Out of Brief Retirement, Signs With 76ers PHILADELPHIA — Dust off the No. 3 jersey. Allen
is with the 76ers again.

Iverson signed a free-agent contract with Philadelphia on
Wednesday, three years after their acrimonious split led to his trade and
seemingly ended any chance of his return. Iverson's brief retirement is over and
he's expected to make his debut Monday at home against Denver.

The Sixers needed a replacement once they lost starting
point guard Lou Williams, who's expected to miss eight weeks after jaw surgery.
Williams, who averaged 17.4 points and 5.1 assists, broke his jaw in a loss to
Washington on Nov. 24.

Iverson, his agent and business manager met with team
president Ed Stefanski, coach Eddie Jordan and two other members of the
organization Monday to talk about returning.

"Without really seeing him on the floor, I would like to
compare him to Brett Favre, a guy who people think is too old to play and he's
almost having an MVP year," Jordan said. "That's off the top of my head. When I
woke up this morning, I said, 'Maybe he can be that.' It's not a big maybe. I
think he can be that."

The 34-year-old Iverson announced his retirement last
week after a stint with the Memphis Grizzlies. The 10-time All-Star was NBA MVP
in 2001, when he led the Sixers to the NBA finals.

"We had, at times, a rocky road with Allen Iverson, but
we also had a fantastic run with Allen," Peter Luukko, COO of Comcast-Spectacor,
which owns the 76ers and Flyers, told The Associated Press. "The expectations
with Allen have changed dramatically. We're not looking for Allen to
individually lead this team the way he has in the past."

Iverson was offered a one-year, non-guaranteed contract
Tuesday, according to a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of
anonymity because the talks were private.

The Sixers would owe just under $650,000 if they
guarantee his contract for the remainder of the season on Jan. 10.

"The whole situation wasn't about the contract and the
money," Iverson's agent, Leon Rose, told The AP. "It was about the opportunity
and the chance to come to Philadelphia."

In 10 seasons with the Sixers, Iverson posted the
highest scoring average in team history (28.1), was second on the points list
(19,583) and holds the record for 3-pointers (877). He was a seven-time
All-Star, won four scoring titles and two All-Star game MVPs.

"He's like a rock star," Stefanski said.

The Sixers (5-13) had lost seven straight entering
Wednesday night's game at Oklahoma City and need Iverson to spark sagging ticket
sales. The Sixers are 29th in the NBA in attendance.

Luukko said Iverson's deal was "absolutely, strictly a
basketball decision."

Jordan said Iverson will likely start in place of rookie
Jrue Holiday

"I told him I would like for him to start, and that's
where it sort of ended," Jordan said. "And he was really like a kid at
Christmas. That's how he sort of explained it to me. He's really excited and
we're looking forward to it."

Iverson's last game with Philadelphia was Dec. 6, 2006,
in Chicago. He refused to play the fourth quarter and was banished from the team
two days later. He was eventually traded to Denver as part of the Andre Miller
deal, and bounced to Detroit before landing in Memphis.

"Certainly, the way it left off, it's surprising,"
Luukko said.

Rose said he wasn't surprised both sides put their
bitter parting behind them.

"It was a good situation that made sense for them," Rose
said. "Allen has always had an affinity for the city of Philadelphia, the fans,
the memories of playing here. He's always talked about the opportunity to come

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 would get another look at his former teams after
playing Denver. The Sixers, who have not won a playoff series since 2003, play
at home Dec. 9 against Detroit.

Iverson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 draft,
but his 10 turbulent seasons in Philadelphia were marred by rants about
practice, run-ins with former coach Larry Brown, arrests and a failed rap

In one infamous blowup at the end of the 2002 season, he
repeated the word "practice" nearly 20 times during a rambling monologue.

"Times change, situations change," Luukko said. "The
best way was to make this a basketball decision. Don't get personal with it."

Iverson has a career average of 27 points in 889 games
over 14 seasons, and is tied for the fifth-highest scoring average in NBA
history. He ranks third among active players.

"It's a great challenge, and I think it's a motivational
aspect to it, too," Jordan said. "Guys are going to be jacked up. He's a winner,
he's an assassin on the floor and that sort of thing is contagious."

AP Sports Writer Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City
contributed to this report.

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