Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Iverson is home

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA - "You Can't Go Home Again" is a novel by Thomas Wolfe, published posthumously in 1940.

The book tells the story of George Webber, a novice author who pens his own work that makes frequent references to his home of Libya Hill, a town filled with residents that read the book and are upset about the "truths" Webber exposes.

The title of Wolfe's book comes from the finale of the novel when Webber realizes..."You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time -- back home to the escapes of Time and Memory."

Well, George Webber never met Allen Iverson.

For Iverson home meant 20,664 at the Wachovia Center cheering his every move from the minute he hit the floor. It meant kissing the Sixers' logo at center court.

Of course, it also meant showing up at 5:57 (et) for a 7:00 p.m. start and eventually it will mean the TGIF on City Line Avenue, The Borgata in Atlantic City and The Palmer Social Club in Center City.

But, for one night, the moribund Sixers were relevant again thanks to "The Answer."

"Just the fans. It meant so much," Iverson said when asked about his return to Philadelphia in a 93-83 loss to Denver. "It's like a marriage, both sides what to feel wanted and obviously I have a connection with these people."

The 76ers were a 5-15 club coming in to Monday's night game with the Nuggets. They were a team suffering through an ugly nine-game losing streak with a first year coach that has made the Johnny Davis-era in Philly a nice memory.

The Sixers are a team that can't shoot, can't rebound and can't defend. A team that has already lost two of its most important players, Lou Williams and Mo Speights, to injury.

In one fell swoop, Iverson erased all that, if only for one night.

The national media showed up in droves. The local media, which has been largely absent magically reappeared, and the building was taken over by electricity not seen since the 2000-01 NBA Finals.

Iverson was on his best behavior, save for the late arrival. He played unselfishly and deferred to the new "star" in town, Andre Iguodala.

At the end of the day, however, the Sixers faltered again to one of the NBA's best teams thanks to a 14-0 Nuggets run to start the fourth quarter, most of it with the enigmatic 10-time All-Star sitting next to Eddie Jordan on the bench.

"It was bittersweet," Iverson said. "I wanted the win so badly whether I played well or not. My heart said yes but my body said no. My legs were heavy. My arms were heavy. It was tough. I didn't know if I would play today but I gave it everything."

The Prince was going to show up at the Wachovia Center and figure out the slipper didn't fit sooner rather than later.

Iverson or no Iverson, Jordan still can't coach and the Sixers are a deeply flawed team.

But, for this one night, basketball was back in Philadelphia thanks to Allen Iverson.

Welcome home.

No comments: