Friday, November 7, 2008

Sixers and Flyers are Struggling, so Read About A.I.

Listen, I tried to watch the Flyers and Sixers last night, but both were painful. Like really painful. The Flyers were completely outplayed by the Senators, and, as Doug Collins said, the Sixers are really struggling to find themselves right now. Not surprisingly, both teams lost horribly.

So instead of rehashing the struggles of these two teams, I'll hand the reigns over to Dan's Take via The Big Lead, who says Detroit fans should forget about Lebron and Wade in 2010 and appreciate the greatness of Allen Iverson now. I couldn't agree more.

Forget the future, Detroit should appreciate greatness now

The Pistons traded for the most influential athlete of my generation on Monday, but all anyone seems to care about is the fact that he has an expiring contract. Imagine that. The most entertaining basketball player this side of Michael Jordan joins a championship contender, yet somehow LeBron James and Dwayne Wade are the focal points.

It’s sad. The summer of 2010 means more than Allen Iverson’s last chance at a title, even in such a proud basketball city. But fans in Detroit and across the country better slow down, because no matter what happens two summers from now, the league will never see another player quite like The Answer.

If you became a sports fan in the mid-late ‘90s, you’ve watched Iverson closer than any other athlete. You’ve criticized him for acting a fool. You’ve been amazed by his ability. You’ve realized that while Shaq might get hacked, AI gets decapitated. Yet he continues to get up. You respect him for that. ESPN’s Rick Reilly once wrote that if there was one player he’d pay twice the ticket price to watch, it would be Iverson, who really makes you think twice about cheering for Manny Ramirez. When he retires, you’ll remember his dismal rap career and his infamous practice rant, but not the way you’ll remember his crossover, a move that staggered more men than Mike Tyson ever did. Even gave MJ jelly legs once.

But for all AI has done on the court, his impact off the court might be what truly defines him. He’s been called a thug for always speaking his mind at a time when you can’t buy a quote from a great athlete – see LeBron, ARod and Tiger. Seemingly cut from the same cliché, those three will never reach people quite the way Iverson did. If you think about it, he and Eminem probably did more to bring two completely different cultures together than any celebrity in history. For awhile, his sneakers, jersey and crossover gave every sports fan something in common.

Iverson will make his Pistons debut tomorrow night in New Jersey, against another franchise already thinking well into the future. The difference is that while the Nets are hopeless, Detroit should be hopeful. They’re a better a team than they were a week ago. Even on his last legs, Iverson can change games.

Now we’ll see if he can win a title.

It's just proof that no matter where Al goes, he will never be appreciated the way he was in Philadelphia. And to that I say, bring him on back. If the Sixers don't resign Andre Miller, why not let Allen sign his last contract in Philadelphia, where he can rightfully retire where he belongs, where he grew up, where he established himself as the single most influential basketball player of my generation.

Sure it's wishful thinking. But it also would be an appropriate ending, to have the greatest scoring guard in Sixers history to retire in the place he began. No matter how laisser-faire the Denver fans were toward you or how excited Detroit fans are to get your contract off the books, you can bet your ass you will always be loved and wanted here, at least by the true fans. Last march we proved just that.

I was there, and it was the best experience I ever had at a Sixers game. Ever. And A.I. didn't disappoint. He scored 32 points and dished out 8 assists in a great game that the Sixers won 115-113. It was Absolutely Incredible, and I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Philadelphia will make you a man.

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