Allen Iverson makes surprise appearance at Sixers' practice

Allen Iverson makes surprise appearance at Sixers' practice

CAMDEN, N.J. — Allen Iverson wasn’t talking about practice, he was talking at it on Thursday.

The recent Hall of Fame inductee made a special appearance at the Sixers' training complex to address the team. Players gathered around him on the court while he delivered messages from his 14-year career, including the importance of trusting one another. 

“He said just play hard, compete every night, play like it’s your last game,” Joel Embiid said. 

Iverson came to practice the day after the Sixers fell to 0-7 with an overtime loss to the Pacers in Indiana. He looked back on early struggles when he experienced a 22-60 rookie season. Iverson encouraged the Sixers to keep a winning mentality as they fight for their first win. 

“Give it our all every day and not to get sad or hang our heads down,” Jahlil Okafor said. “Any time we do have the opportunity to be around him, to be in presence, it’s always a joy.”

Iverson sees potential in the Sixers' core. He called the team’s young talent “excellent,” commenting specifically on Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. 

“I think he’s going to be so great and I can’t wait,” Iverson said of Simmons, adding on Embiid, “I knew he was going to be great, and he’ll be greater. He’s going to only get better. He’s going to make the guys around him better as well.” 

Iverson encouraged fans to “be patient” with the Sixers. After playing parts of 12 seasons in Philadelphia, Iverson believes home crowd will stick by the team. 

“A fan is a fan,” he said. “You’re supposed to be diehard. You’re supposed to believe. That’s what Philly fans are.”

The dynamic point guard averaged 26.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists over his career. He was named NBA MVP, Rookie of the Year and earned 11 All-Star selections. In September Iverson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on the first ballot. 

“He reminded everybody the city appreciates effort — the city demands effort — and the work that people are putting in will be rewarded,” Brett Brown said. “Any time A.I. talks, especially with our young guys, he commands attention and he deserves it.”

Robert Covington shoveled snow before Sixers' win

Robert Covington shoveled snow before Sixers' win

Did you hire someone to shovel out your driveway in Winter Storm Toby?

Robert Covington didn’t. 

“I shoveled my driveway and the sidewalk and my walkway,” Covington said following the Sixers' 119-105 win over the Grizzlies (see observations). “[It took me] about 20 minutes. It wasn’t that bad because the snow wasn’t really heavy and it wasn’t sticking, so I just kind of, in and out.” 

The thing is, Covington actually likes to shovel snow. It’s a task he grew up doing during the winters in Illinois and one that taught him the value of hard work. He shoveled to help his family and elderly neighbors who needed a hand. 

“The responsibility that my parents instilled in me was, when you’re told to do something you’ve got to make sure you handle your business and you have to do it at a certain level,” Covington said. 

Covington, who signed a $60 million contract this season, easily could have hired a snow removal service to help him get to the game on time. But there was something he liked about taking care of it.  

“I’ve always done it myself,” Covington said. “It kind of gives you a sense of still working and still doing the simple things. Everybody tells me I could have paid someone to do it, one of the kids in the neighborhood, but it wasn’t about that. It was just something quick. I chose to go out there and do it, knock it out.”

The snow didn't slow down Covington at all. He scored 15 points in less than 23 minutes, shooting an efficient 6 for 9 from the field and 3 for 4 from three. 

So given how well he played following the shoveling, did he stumble upon a new pregame routine?

“No,” Covington said with a laugh. “I won’t continue to do that because I kind of got a little sniffles while I was out there. No, I won’t be out doing that too much because I don’t want to get sick.” 

Joel Embiid wants to play every game the rest of the way

Joel Embiid wants to play every game the rest of the way


The Sixers have been looking for ways to get Joel Embiid rest before the postseason. The most obvious solution would be sitting him for an entire game.

Except Embiid has no interest in doing that.

“I’m playing in every game,” Embiid said following his 59th appearance of the season. 

The Sixers have 12 games remaining prior to the playoffs. Six are in variations of home-away back-to-backs, starting with Thursday’s matchup in Orlando in which Embiid is expected to play. 

His minutes have jumped this season to 31 per game, a serious leap for the player who had been under tight restrictions. The Sixers, who are now currently the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, need a healthy Embiid to succeed in the postseason. They are eyeing time off for him and other high-minutes players. 

“I think that there will be a game that we do do that,” Brett Brown said. “He’s just so ridiculously competitive and he so much wants to please the fans of Philadelphia. He so much wants to please the fans of Philadelphia. I think that for us to say he’s going to play every one of the remaining games after tonight, 12 of them, is not going to happen. But I bet it comes with a fight.”

Brown is right. Embiid has been making his case to remain in the lineup. 

“We didn’t come this far to rest me,” Embiid said following the Sixers’ 119-105 win over the Grizzlies (see observations). “I mean, I was always complaining about playing every game and playing back-to-backs, I’m sure the fans were too. 

“Now that we’re here, I can understand maybe the last game before we get ready for the playoffs, but other than that, I want to play every game because that’s my first time I get the chance to do that.”

The reasons to rest are pretty clear. The grind of the season can take its toll, especially on a player who never has come close to playing this amount of basketball. Embiid, though, thrives on consistency and repetition. He’s averaging 25.0 points and 14.0 rebounds in five games on no days’ rest. 

“You stay in shape,” Embiid said. “I’m the type of guy that when I miss a day or two and I don’t really do anything, I get out of shape really quick. Just being consistent about playing and not missing two or three days. I know my body … I want to keep going. Honestly, I’ve been feeling really good. I haven’t been tired, so I’ve just got to keep it going.”

Brown sees that perspective, having coached players over his career who have had the same mentality.

“Too much time off wasn’t desirable," Brown said. "It sounds attractive but the maniacal ones especially, you feel like you’re just not as well prepared, I think to strike that balance of the rest versus rhythm is always a challenge. I don’t think it’s a generic formula.”

Another solution: Building — and maintaining — big enough leads to rest in the fourth. The Sixers led the Grizzlies by 30 after three quarters,which allowed all the starters to sit the entire final quarter. Embiid played only 19 minutes and 33 seconds.