Monday, October 30, 2006

Iverson will star his 11th season with the Sixers

It's very likely that Allen Iverson thought on occasion during the summer that he wouldn't be accompanying the Philadelphia 76ers on their European tour, considering all the trade rumors involving him that swirled for two months of the offseason.

And the thought must have been in his head on the plane to Barcelona, Spain, while he talked to younger teammates about his time with the team.

"I was sharing some experiences with them about being here for as long as I've been," Allen told the press. "Then Willie Green said, 'You feel the way you do about this organization, you have this much love for the organization, probably because this is all you know."

"And that was the first time somebody ever said something like that to me, and it was honestly true. I never looked at it like that. Maybe I wanted to stay here because of the loyalty. But it's true that Philadelphia is all I know."

Anyway, Iverson will be starting his 11th season with the Sixers, the only team he has known since they made him the No. 1 pick of the 1996 draft, and that's astonishing considering the almost-daily reports in June and July of his going to Boston or Denver or Golden State.

"I feel I am an original 76er," Iverson claims. "When you look back at all the original Sixers, as far as Dr. J, Charles Barkley, Wilt Chamberlain, I put myself in that category."

And among active players, Iverson's 10 seasons with the Sixers are the second most among those who have played with the team that drafted them. We must remember that Kevin Garnett has been with Minnesota for 11 seasons.

The "Answer" is the face of the 76ers around the league and, as proven last year in China and this year in Spain and Germany, around the world. The player is the reason hundreds of fans come out to watch the Sixers in league cities while wearing No. 3 jerseys and cheering him on as if he was one of their own.

It's very likely that this season, Iverson will become the 34th player in league history to score 20,000 career points. He also was named the league's most valuable player in 2001, has won four scoring titles and started seven times in the All-Star Game. Despite that, he lacks a title — and plays for a squad that made few changes after going 38-44.

But Allen never said he really wants to go somewhere else: "I guess it's just because of the experience, everything that I've learned here, just developing into a man, all the ups and downs and having to overcome the different problems that I've overcome in my career," and he repeats one more tim: "I'm a Sixer at heart, and that's just the way it is."