Think about that for a second — a No. 8 seed means at least two extra home dates with LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal in town. That’s two sellouts for folks to come watch another visiting club instead of the hometown team.
That’s the point though, isn’t it? The Sixers aren’t good enough to get those extra two games against LeBron and Shaq, and they aren’t bad enough to make a difference in the lottery. If that doesn’t explain this team, nothing else does.
But now they don’t even have a hook or an angle. Oh sure, basketball junkies might want to tune in to check out how Lou Williams, Jrue Holliday and Thad Young fare the rest of the way, but your common, everyday sports fan who is simply interested in the wins, losses and not the nuance of it is likely gone.
Not that they were hanging around too much this season to begin with.
See, Allen Iverson is gone. Oh sure, we’ve strolled down this path before, but really, Iverson is done. We mean it this time. Not that we didn’t mean it before, like when he was traded to Denver, sent to Detroit, allegedly causing scenes in riverboat casinos and then signing on for Memphis for just three games. Hell, by this point we’ve probably written the story about Allen Iverson’s last stand in the NBA three times already. Truth be told, the guy was probably done when he bailed out on the Pistons late last season.
This time though it really is over because no other NBA team is sillier than the Sixers. Sure, the cynical types might look at the December signing of Iverson as a way to sell a few more tickets, which really didn’t work out quite like everyone had hoped. After all, that line about not being able to go home again wouldn’t be a saying if it wasn’t true.
Still, nothing has changed. One minute Iverson was here, the next he slipped away mysteriously. This time there was no trade, indefinite suspension or any of the old standbys. Instead, Iverson allegedly left the team because his four-year old daughter is sick with an undisclosed illness. Actually, not only hasn’t anyone spoken about the girl’s illness, but even those usually in the know say the information is particularly cryptic.
That makes it easier to understand this end for Iverson. When the health of a child or family matters is the concern, everything else seems pretty unimportant. Let’s just hope for the sake of little Messiah Iverson that the doctors can figure this out.
Forget about the fact that Iverson went away for five games, missed the All-Star Game, came back for a couple of games before disappearing again only to turn up at a benefit in Charlotte. The truth is Iverson’s departure not only was typical of him and the exact opposite of his entrance at every stop of his career, it is also indicative of how Sixers’ almost always go out.
Think about it for a second… aside from Julius Erving (who had been offered up in a bunch of alleged trades during his waning years, including one for the No. 3 pick in the 1984 draft… Chicago smartly decided to keep the pick), which Sixers player went away on good terms?
Let’s go through the list… Wilt was traded. Moses and Barkley were traded, too. Andrew Toney had the injuries and the battles with management, while Mo Cheeks was traded away but wasn’t told until he found Michael Barkann waiting on his doorstep. When a player and the Sixers are really done with each other, usually that’s it. After all, aside from World B. Free there aren’t any old-timers hanging around the games. Sure, fences get mended and everyone gets back on good terms, but when it’s over it’s over.
There’s no going back.
Sure, we’ll see Iverson again. The Sixers will probably put his No. 3 in the rafters next to Wilt, Mo Cheeks, Barkley and Doc, and Iverson is undoubtedly a Hall of Famer. We’ll surely see him at the induction ceremony.
But what we won’t see is how Iverson deals with life away from basketball and the spotlight and the adjustment that sometimes is so difficult. We also won’t know about how he handles the family matters that have besieged him, though we can only hope he comes out ahead.
No, there’s no way to practice for where he is headed now.