Lou Williams' Injury Opens the Door For Iverson's Return to the Sixers

Bryan Toporek@@btoporekFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 10:  Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers runs upcourt against the New Jersey Nets during their game at Continental Airlines Arena on December 10, 2005 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.The Sixers defeated the Nets 107-95. 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.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Sixers' fans washed their pre-Thanksgiving meals down with one piece of bad news after another.  

And at the end of the day, all the news seemed to point towards one logical conclusion: It's time for Philadelphia and Sixers legend Allen Iverson to join forces one last time.

First, Iverson announced his sudden (and premature?) retirement from the NBA after a three game stint with the Memphis Grizzlies this season.

Then, after going beast-mode last week, the clock struck midnight and the oft-injured Elton Brand turned back into the lump of crap that he's been for the past two years. He turned in an awful one-of-nine shooting night on Tuesday, and missed the Sixers' past two games due to a strained hamstring.

Finally, Sixers' point guard Lou Williams broke his jaw on Tuesday night in a game against the Wizards. He'll be out of action for the next eight weeks after undergoing surgery on Thursday.  

The Sixers' backup point guards? Royal Ivey and rookie Jrue Holiday.

Who are they, you may ask? Well...this description of Ivey from NBA.com doesn't exactly inspire confidence: "Ivey is the classic example of a player whose contributions can’t be measured by statistics. He’s not going to average a lot of points, rebounds, assists or even steals."  

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That leaves us with Holiday, who averaged eight points, three rebounds, and three assists per game last year as a freshman with UCLA before declaring for the draft this past spring.  

Don't be fooled by his seemingly pedestrian stats —he played out of position last year as a shooting guard after PG Darren Collison returned for his senior year unexpectedly, and never found a comfort level in playing off of the ball. The guy was ranked the No. 1 high school point guard in 2008 by Rivals.com, so don't worry, the Sixers didn't burn a near lottery pick on a role player. Hopefully.

With that said...the Sixers cannot afford to have a rookie, or a defensively-minded point guard leading their team.  

And this is exactly where the story comes full circle. With Williams out eight weeks...what do the Sixers have to lose by signing Iverson?  

Lots of other writers on this site have approached this possibility from a basketball standpoint. I'm going from the business side.

It's time for Sixers management to face reality. The starting lineup on Friday night? Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Jason Smith (a third-year pro who's never played 30 minutes in a single NBA game), and Samuel Dalembert, who the Sixers have been trying to trade for a Gatorade cooler and 300 practice balls.

This team is not going to win many games in the next eight weeks with Williams (and Marreese Speights, the Sixers' leader in production-per-minute) sidelined.  

Furthermore, the team ranks 29th of the 30 NBA teams in terms of attendance, only leading Memphis by 500 fans per game. The Sixers average drawing power: 11,820 fans. Huge home court advantage at the Wachovia Center.  

(Check out this hilarious story from John Gonzalez of The Philadelphia Inquirer to get an idea of how "hot" of a commodity Sixers tickets can be these days.)

So, with a gaping hole at the point guard position, and WNBA teams potentially outdrawing the Sixers on a given night, why not bring back Iverson?

Iverson stands to benefit, as he'd have eight weeks as a starter to prove that he can still be an effective starter in the league.  

If he's averaging 20 points a game, dishing out 5-6 assists, and playing in the system, coach Eddie Jordan would have a difficult time benching him when Williams returns from injury (especially given that this is Williams' first year as a starter).

Business-wise (for those Sixers' higher-ups who only care about profits, not championships), guess what game drew out the most fans this season?  That's right: 14,269 of Philly's finest came out last Friday for the game against the Memphis Grizzlies, where Sixers fans thought they'd be able to pay tribute to a team legend once more. 

And if nothing else...it would give Iverson a chance to retire in a dignified manner, instead of his knee-jerk, shocking retirement this week.  

If nothing else, his career could come full circle, and he could play his first and last NBA seasons in a Sixers uniform. While 29-of-the-30 NBA franchises may not want him, most Sixers fans want nothing more than the chance to see Iverson lighting it up for the Sixers one last time.

Judging by his comments about Philadelphia, Iverson still holds the city in the highest regard. "And finally, to the city of Philadelphia: I have wonderful memories of my days in a Sixers’ uniform. To Philly fans, thank you. Your voice will always be music to my ears."  

So, Sixers' management, it's time to do what's right. It's time for the Sixers to field a competitive team for the next eight weeks. It's time for the Sixers to give their fans a reason to come to games this year.  

It's time for the Sixers to bring back a legend, celebrate his Hall of Fame career, and give Allen Iverson one more shot to prove his doubters wrong.

(Author's Note: At the time this article was originally published, the news about Sixers' management seriously considering this move hadn't broken yet.  I'm thrilled to see that it's a legitimate possibility.  Time to count down the hours until Tuesday, it seems...)  


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