76ers

Allen Iverson, 'the guy who drives our league,' bails on playing for Philly fans in BIG3 game

Allen Iverson, 'the guy who drives our league,' bails on playing for Philly fans in BIG3 game

Allen Iverson’s return to the Wells Fargo Center with the BIG3 league didn’t go as planned. The 3’s Company player coach/captain was only on the sidelines coaching after he announced he would not be suiting up around half-an-hour before the games began. 

“To all my fans out there, based on advice from my doctor I will not be playing in the game tonight for the BIG3,” Iverson said on Instagram. “I will be there to coach my team and beat Dr. J’s team. I will be interacting with all my fans and we will have a great time. You will see some great basketball. I love you fans for supporting me all of the years up to date and I’ll see you when I get there.” 

The exact cause of Iverson not playing was not specified. Neither he nor BIG3 co-founder Ice Cube spoke to the media after the game. 

Iverson was the main draw to the game in Philadelphia. He received a loud standing ovation from the Iverson jersey-clad crowd when he was introduced in his matchup against Tri-State, coached by fellow Hall of Famer Julius Erving. The arena turned into a sea of phones as fans held theirs up to capture Iverson’s message when he addressed them before tipoff. 

“I’m glad I had a chance to come back home to Philadelphia,” Iverson said prior to the game, wearing a T-shirt with 'The Answer' and the No. 3 across the back. “I always tell people that some athletes have relationships with their fans. Michael Jordan with the fans in Chicago. LeBron (James) with the fans in Cleveland. Kobe (Bryant) with the fans in L.A. Ain’t nothing like this relationship that we have. It don’t get no better than this. 

“I thank ya’ll and I love ya’ll for supporting me throughout my career and still today ya’ll continue to support me. I’m always going to be Philly and Philly’s always going to be in my heart.” 

Iverson’s opponents found out he wasn’t playing the same time as the fans. While the players from Tri-State were happy with their victory over 3’s Company, Bonzi Wells looked at the situation from the crowd’s perspective. 

“Allen is the guy who drives our league,” Wells said. “He’s one of the biggest names in our league. We were hoping that he was going to play for the fans. And this is what it’s all about, it’s about the fans. It was tough, but we got the win so it’s good for us.”

It remains to be seen if Iverson will play next weekend in Chicago. Whether or not he is on the court, his impact is felt throughout the BIG3 league. 

“Bubba Chuck my childhood idol,” Trilogy’s Rashad McCants, the No. 1 pick in the BIG3 draft, said. “Growing up, a lot of my game comes from influence — the style, the tattoo, the headband. To have a guy like that be a part of this is the reason why I signed up.”

Sixers have already embraced key aspects of NBA postseason

Sixers have already embraced key aspects of NBA postseason

Perhaps the Sixers have been underestimated a bit.

Outside of Joel Embiid’s health, all of the chatter going into the playoffs was about how the relatively inexperienced roster would handle the big stage. 

Sure, the team has a crop of veterans that have been there and done that. However, young impact players such as Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric were all getting their first taste of the postseason.

So how are they feeling about it to this point?

“I love it,” Embiid said at Friday’s practice. “I live for these moments. I thrive in this type of atmosphere. I think I was built for this, especially playoff basketball.”

Embiid appears particularly fond of the postseason in environments where the Sixers are short on support.

After missing the first two games of the series in Philadelphia while still recovering from orbital fracture surgery, Embiid stepped back into the starting lineup on the road in Miami.

Was getting barked at by rowdy fans in hostile territory going to be a problem? Not for the villain now known as “The Phantom of the Process.”

“I actually think I play better on the road because I just love the atmosphere,” Embiid said. “I just love looking around the arena, people booing, people going against us. That just takes my game to another level.”

The Sixers’ performance isn’t the only thing that has been taken up a notch. Their intensity level and physicality have jumped in this first-round matchup with the bruising Heat.

“I said it before, I wish it was like this all season,” said Simmons, who is averaging 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game in the series. “I’m enjoying it. It’s very competitive and that’s the type of basketball I want to play.”

“It’s basketball. It’s fun,” Justin Anderson said. “Playing like that is fun. Every possession matters. You can tell there’s not a lot of empty possessions. Guys are getting shots up on every possession.

“… It’s intensified. It’s just basketball. It’s the best basketball in the world, and we’re putting ourselves in a position to hopefully go and get another one in Game 4.”

Heat's Justise Winslow fined $15K for stepping on Joel Embiid's mask

Heat's Justise Winslow fined $15K for stepping on Joel Embiid's mask

The NBA dished out some swift justice on Friday night.

Heat swingman Justise Winslow was fined $15,000 by the league for unsportsmanlike conduct after intentionally stepping on and attempting to damage Joel Embiid’s mask during the Sixers’ Game 3 win in Miami (see story).

With 7:51 remaining in the second quarter, the goggles portion of Embiid’s mask fell onto the court. Winslow stepped on the goggles with his left foot before picking them up and trying to break them with his hands.

“He kept throwing it on the ground, so I don’t know if he didn’t like it or what,” Winslow said. “But I was talking to JoJo, we were smack talking, trash talking, going back and forth. No love lost.”

The incident definitely didn’t stop Embiid in his postseason debut. The big man returned from orbital surgery to put up 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks in the Sixers’ 128-108 victory.

“Justise stepped on it and tried to break it with his hands,” Embiid said. “But little do they know is that I have about 50 of them. So it’s going to take much more than that to get me out of the series. 

“I’m going to be a nightmare for them, too.”