I wrote a story a few days ago about Allen Iverson where I said I thought his days as a difference maker were over. After watching the press conference announcing his return to the 76ers today and then watching youtube clips of his prime years in Philadelphia, I hope he proves me wrong and can turn back the clock.
Everything fans loath about athletes is everything Iverson is not. We all hate players that don't give it everything they have when they're on the court. We can't stand it when players make excuses instead of taking responsibility for what happened. We hate when players don't show any heart in the face of adversity.
When in his entire career, could you ever accuse Iverson of any of those things? He's played through injuries without complaint. On a good day he might be 6'0, but that's never stopped him from driving to the hoop, taking hit after hit, getting knocked to the floor, sacrificing his body for the team and then getting back up again every time he's stepped on to the court.
You can't teach a player to throw his body around for the sake of the team, or to dive after a loose ball. It's not possible to make a player give a shit about more than his next contract or shoe deal. You can't fake tears over returning to the franchise where you grew up and made your name. We ask for athletes to be real and that's all Iverson ever has been.
I still don't think that Iverson is going to make much of a difference in improving Philadelphia's playoff hopes this year, but I'll be hoping he proves me wrong.
Just for old time's sake.