Allen Iverson: Adding Jimmy Butler 'Just Beautiful' for 76ers; 'We Got a Chance'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2018

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 16: Allen Iverson attends the game between the Utah Jazz and the Philadelphia 76ers on November 16, 2018 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

From the time the Philadelphia 76ers traded Allen Iverson in 2006 until the Joel Embiid/Ben Simmons era began last season, spurred on by the rebuilding project ultimately dubbed The Process, there were some lean years for the organization. 

The Sixers did reach the postseason four times in that duration. But they only won one playoff series before last year, with little hope of trotting out a title contender. With Embiid and Simmons now paired with Jimmy Butler, however, those aspirations have returned.

Iverson spoke about the state of the current team and the process to get there, with Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium:

"We got through so much—excuse my French — sh-t to get to this point. Been through so much sh-t. We're here. We got a great player in Jimmy. We'll miss those guys [Robert Covington and Dario Saric], but adding Jimmy was just beautiful for our team. I remember taking us to the Finals, the energy this city had, and I love the energy we got now, man. We did a great trade.

"I love our guys—Jo, Ben—having their own identity. I love them having three superstars on this squad. The greatest thing we'll see unfold is all of the role players accepting their responsibilities, what they have to do, and let the stars be stars. That's what we did in 2001. This way, you don't have to lean on one person every night. We got a collective group of guys night in and night out.

"We got a chance now."

The early returns following the Butler trade have been positive. The team is 2-1 with Butler in the lineup, and he's played a crucial role in each of the two wins. Against the Utah Jazz, he played 38 minutes, scoring 28 points to go along with seven assists.

But his superstar impact was felt even more greatly in an overtime thriller against the Charlotte Hornets. Despite Kemba Walker scoring 60 points in the contest, the game came down to the final two possessions. On the first, Butler blocked Walker's jump shot near the baseline, retrieved it before it went out of bounds and made a ridiculous no-look, behind-his-head pass to Wilson Chandler to preserve possession.

On the other end of the court, he hit a step-back, game-winning three-pointer with just 0.3 seconds left on the clock for the win.

It was the sort of two-way performance that showcased precisely why the Sixers pulled the trigger on the Butler deal.

"We learned a lot from our series against the Celtics, and we felt we needed Jimmy," Sixers managing partner and owner Josh Harris told Charania. "Since last summer, we've felt we needed a third elite talent. You don't get a chance to get this talent every day. Jimmy wants to win, and Joel and Ben want to win. That's the bottom line."

Butler checks a lot of boxes for the Sixers. He's a two-way wing, capable of locking down an opponent's top perimeter player. He's an effective scorer off the pick-and-roll and can create his own offense off the perimeter—two skill sets the team sorely lacked. And he's an excellent closer, often saving his best for the fourth quarter, a major plus for a Sixers team that has struggled to hold leads over the past two seasons.

There are questions about how three elite players like Embiid, Simmons and Butler will fit together, about whether three alpha personalities can fit together and each sacrifice for the greater good. But so far, so good.

Sixers general manager Elton Brand told Charania:

"When you can add a talented four-time All-Star, you got to do it and then worry about everything else afterward. We already lost to Milwaukee, we already lost to Boston, we already lost to Toronto—we needed to take a shot, take a leap. That was my thought, my vision. Me and my staff, we talked to ownership and they had our backs. You get the talent first. Talent wins."