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.”