PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Allen Iverson plans to run on that familiar court one more time, cup his ear the way he used to in his prime and implore his adoring fans to make more noise.
AI is back home, Philly.
“It’s exciting,” Iverson told The Associated Press. “I just want to give them a couple flashbacks of the time I had here. I love them. The only relationship like the relationship I have with Philadelphia fans is (Michael Jordan) in Chicago. It’s everlasting. They supported me all throughout my career, through all my ups and downs and that’s why I love coming back here. They’re the No. 1 fans in the world.”
Iverson returns to the floor at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday night when the Big3 comes to town. The main event features two Philadelphia legends. Iverson’s 3’s Company team faces Julius Erving’s Tri-State team in the fourth game. Dr. J won’t be playing, though.
Iverson hasn’t done much of that, either. The former NBA MVP is a player-coach but he has spent more time coaching in the first three weeks. The 42-year-old has six points on 3-for-13 shooting.
“I’m going to do what’s best to get us the win,” Iverson said, explaining that he can’t guard bigger opponents in the post.
That’s just fine with Ice Cube.
“You gotta commend AI,” the rapper-actor told AP. “He’s trying to win. If he was on the ego tip, he wouldn’t sub himself out, even though he’s getting posted up. That’s the cool thing about it. You see guys’ real competitive juices going.”
No matter how little he plays, Iverson is an integral part of Ice Cube’s league of former NBA players.
“We don’t launch without AI,” Cube said. “We had names, we had players. But we didn’t have box office, we didn’t have that marquee name that you need to make a splash in a league like this. What’s great with him and Dr. J and playing in Philly, you have Dr. J who helped cement the ABA, and you have Allen Iverson establishing the Big3. Years from now, we can look back and say this wouldn’t have happened without AI taking a chance on us.”
Iverson, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last year, is enjoying the ride.
“Seeing guys give it their all and watching how the fans embrace it, guys putting on a show for them, that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “These games haven’t been watered down. They’ve been competitive. I like the direction it’s heading. I’m happy to be a part of it. Years to come, I can brag to guys about being one of the first guys to play in the Big3 because it’s going to soar, man. It’s going to get bigger and bigger every year.”
Three weeks into Season 1, Ice Cube is already thinking ahead.
“I can definitely see the future of this league where guys step straight from an NBA court onto a Big3 court,” he said. “I think the competition is gonna get stiff. I’m pretty sure there’s some big names out there waiting to play the game and have fun. Everybody is having a ball – players, fans, the league.”
Sunday the Lakers played their fifth Summer League game in seven days, and this was the second night of a back-to-back.
So if Lonzo Ball was cramping up and the Lakers were cautious and rested him, it’s hard to blame him or them.
Ball left in the third quarter of the Lakers semi-final win over Dallas (he had 16 points and 10 assists). He had played efficiently, but with his legs tightening up he went back to the locker room, then returned to the bench, but never re-entered the game.
It’s unclear if he will play in the Summer League championship game Monday, although I would be surprised if he suits up.
Lonzo Ball and Dennis Smith Jr. have been two of the best rookies in Summer League, and they lined up head-to-head Sunday night in the Las Vegas semifinals.
They both had their moments. Ball was efficient with his shot — 5-of-7 shooting overall and 2-of-3 from three — and racked up 10 assists before leaving the game with calf tightness. It was nerve-racking when he limped off the court to the locker room.
Smith had 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting with six assists.
Check out their highlights above.
The Lakers won the game and advance to the Summer League championship game against the Trail Blazers on Monday.
Big men still on the market, even ones with legit skills, are finding getting more than a one-year deal at the veteran minimum difficult. JaVale McGee is feeling that frustration.
Marreese Speights has a legit skill — he can come off the bench as a pick-and-pop big, hit some threes (37.2 percent from beyond the arc last season), and beyond that play some solid minutes. Speights had been talking to the Atlanta Hawks, but that has fallen apart, and Speights is back on the open market, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Speights could help a lot of teams as a backup big. He’s not going to provide much defense, but teams could do much worse. He will sign somewhere, but in a tight market he’s not going to make as much as he likely imagined.
(For the record, that will not be the Warriors, they have David West as the pick-and-pop big off the bench, they’re not duplicating that skill set. The Warriors want rim protection with their final center slot.)
Ray Allen has stepped away from the NBA.
But when you have one of the sweetest strokes the league has ever seen, it doesn’t go away. Ray Allen can still get buckets, as he showed on Sunday at the American Century Classic in Lake Tahoe.
Allen was also one of the best golfers in the NBA when he retired, with all that extra time on the course his swing is almost as sweet as his shot now.