Allen Iverson returns home, eager to please Philly fans

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3’s Company player/captain and coach Allen Iverson (3) takes a three-point shot during the first half of Game 3 in the BIG3 Basketball League debut, Sunday, June 25, 2017, at the Barclays Center in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

By Rob Maaddi, Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Allen Iverson plans to run on that familiar court one more time, cup his ear the way he used to in his prime and implore his adoring fans to make more noise.

AI is back home, Philly.

“It’s exciting,” Iverson told The Associated Press. “I just want to give them a couple flashbacks of the time I had here. I love them. The only relationship like the relationship I have with Philadelphia fans is (Michael Jordan) in Chicago. It’s everlasting. They supported me all throughout my career, through all my ups and downs and that’s why I love coming back here. They’re the No. 1 fans in the world.”

Iverson returns to the floor at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday night when the Big3 comes to town. The main event features two Philadelphia legends. Iverson’s 3′s Company team faces Julius Erving’s Tri-State team in the fourth game. Dr. J won’t be playing, though.

Iverson hasn’t done much of that, either. The former NBA MVP is a player-coach but he has spent more time coaching in the first three weeks. The 42-year-old has six points on 3-for-13 shooting.

“I’m going to do what’s best to get us the win,” Iverson said, explaining that he can’t guard bigger opponents in the post.

That’s just fine with Ice Cube.

“You gotta commend AI,” the rapper-actor told AP. “He’s trying to win. If he was on the ego tip, he wouldn’t sub himself out, even though he’s getting posted up. That’s the cool thing about it. You see guys’ real competitive juices going.”

No matter how little he plays, Iverson is an integral part of Ice Cube’s league of former NBA players.

“We don’t launch without AI,” Cube said. “We had names, we had players. But we didn’t have box office, we didn’t have that marquee name that you need to make a splash in a league like this. What’s great with him and Dr. J and playing in Philly, you have Dr. J who helped cement the ABA, and you have Allen Iverson establishing the Big3. Years from now, we can look back and say this wouldn’t have happened without AI taking a chance on us.”

Iverson, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last year, is enjoying the ride.

“Seeing guys give it their all and watching how the fans embrace it, guys putting on a show for them, that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “These games haven’t been watered down. They’ve been competitive. I like the direction it’s heading. I’m happy to be a part of it. Years to come, I can brag to guys about being one of the first guys to play in the Big3 because it’s going to soar, man. It’s going to get bigger and bigger every year.”

Three weeks into Season 1, Ice Cube is already thinking ahead.

“I can definitely see the future of this league where guys step straight from an NBA court onto a Big3 court,” he said. “I think the competition is gonna get stiff. I’m pretty sure there’s some big names out there waiting to play the game and have fun. Everybody is having a ball — players, fans, the league.”



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