Magic Convinced Iverson's Still a Starter
According to various media reports, the Sixers later this week are expected to re-sign Iverson, who played there for 10 seasons, winning four scoring titles and leading them to the 2001 NBA Finals.
"Nobody at his age (34) is the same as they were at 26-27, but he still has a lot left in the tank,'' said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. "And he can still score a lot of points. He'll bring incredible energy and intensity every night. He'll bring toughness.''
Although one of the NBA's all-time greats, Iverson was waived earlier this season by Memphis after leaving the team and balking at his role as a reserve. He also had issues last season in Detroit when the Pistons asked him to take a reserve role. Because of the problems, there was little interest in signing him as a free agent this summer. There was even less interest last month -- until the Sixers got involved.
"I don't see a downside with him,'' Van Gundy said. "I have a different view of him, I guess. I see him as one of the great competitors we've ever seen in this league, not only a great scorer, but a tremendous, tremendous competitor. He's a guy who has played his butt off every single night.''
The Magic beat the Sixers last spring in the first round of the playoffs. They also opened this season by pounding them. Van Gundy believes they would be harder to prepare for with Iverson on the roster.
"What happened last season, and the beginning of this season was unfortunate,'' Van Gundy said. "Allen knows he's a starter in this league, and he is, but the situations weren't great for him. It's not necessarily anyone's fault. It doesn't make him a bad guy. As long as he's in the right situation, he's going to help someone.''
Interest from the Sixers is two-fold. They recently lost starting guard Lou Williams with a broken jaw. And interest in their team has plummeted. Their average attendance is 11,966, second lowest in the league. The return of Iverson would spark considerable interest in Philadelphia, where he carved his reputation.
"Oh, he can still play. He's still AI,'' said Magic point guard Jameer Nelson. "He just needs his own team. If he goes there (Philadelphia), and gets to do his thing, he'll be who he was two seasons ago (in Denver when he averaged 26.4 ppg)."