76ers

Allen Iverson on Aaron McKie: 'I owe a lot to him'

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Allen Iverson on Aaron McKie: 'I owe a lot to him'

Allen Iverson was the centerpiece of the Sixers for the 10-plus years he was in Philadelphia. He made 11 All-Star teams, seven All-NBA teams, won four scoring titles and a league MVP award.

But he did not accomplish those things as a one-man band.

“Without my teammates none of this, the accomplishments I have had in my career, they would not have happened without those guys,” Iverson rightfully acknowledged during his retirement ceremony on Wednesday (see story). “Those guys set screens for me, they played hard for me and they were with me the whole way in allowing me to become a household name.”

Teammates came and went in Iverson’s 14-year career, but friendships were also made, and one such relationship in particular resonates with Iverson as special.

The question was simple: Which of your teammates stood out the most as a positive influence on you?

There was no hesitation in Iverson’s answer and it was wrapped in true, heartfelt gratitude.

“Aaron McKie,” Iverson said and he repeated the name three more times. “I mean he was my teammate but he was on another level. He was my teammate but he was my friend.”

Iverson paused long and hard in between his thoughts, fighting back tears.

“He helped me so much in my career,” Iverson continued. “I talk about the mistakes that I made in my career. I made a million of them, but if it weren’t for Aaron McKie I would have made two million of them. He is just somebody I always listened to and could talk to about anything.”

Iverson always has a way with words and the one million, two million comment brought laughter to a very emotional moment for him.

And in sharing a friendship with McKie, Iverson learned a life lesson: Stay open to new experiences.

“I had guys I grew up with that I loved and cared about and I have a lot of admiration and respect for them, but this is a guy that I met up here on the high level,” Iverson said. “People say once you get to that level you don’t want any more new friends. I don’t need them, I have enough of them. But don’t close that door because people like him do come along in life, and I just owe a lot to him.”

What Iverson feels for McKie is a two-way street.

“I have never had a problem expressing to him how I felt about a situation, something in a game or get here on time or do this, do that,” McKie said. “He knew I was going to be honest and respected that, and the thing that I respected was that he never really cared what people thought about him and never changed himself. I have a lot of respect for people who feel that way.”

Mutual respect and no regrets were the themes of Iverson’s retirement announcement. Throughout the course of The Answer fielding questions, there was clarity about the core of Iverson’s message.

“I am not wasting time thinking about if I go back in time because you can’t change it. It is what it is. This is who I am and I think I did pretty good with who and what I am,” McKie surmised.

Only the best of friends could have summed up A.I. in such a description.

Sixers refuse to look at silver lining from season-opening loss

Sixers refuse to look at silver lining from season-opening loss

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON — In years past, overcoming a 12-point deficit and trailing a playoff-contending team by just two points with a minute to go would be considered an “A for effort” for the Sixers

If they held their own against a more experienced team and didn’t get dominated by John Wall, a 120-115 loss on the road wasn’t really that bad … was it?

Not this season.

The Sixers are in a new phase, one with actual pieces versus promising potential. With that comes higher expectations to win, and it starts in the locker room after the first game. 

“I don’t like taking positives from losses,” JJ Redick said. “We need to clean up a lot of stuff. We need to be better. It takes a lot to win in this league. We need to figure that out, and we will. We are good enough to do that.” 

The Sixers were in Wednesday's game until the end (see observations). They withstood the combined 53 points from Wall and Bradley Beal with a 29-point performance by Robert Covington and double-doubles from Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons (see studs, duds, more).

The team acknowledged it had a chance to win. Yes, there were encouraging moments. No, they weren’t hanging their heads and writing off the season after opening night. 

At the same time, they are not ignoring the missteps that landed them in the loss column. Those are the turning points to learn from this season. 

The Sixers gave up just three points off four turnovers in the first half. The second half was a different story: 20 points off 13 turnovers. Down two points late in the fourth, the Sixers committed a pair of turnovers in a span of 30 seconds that hindered them from closing the gap. Those errors have been a focal point of conversation among the players. 

“Too many turnovers. That's big,” Embiid said (more on him here). “That's been the talk in the locker room. Got to work on that.”

The Sixers have one day of practice before facing the Celtics and Raptors in back-to-back games. It's just a small taste of what's to come in a stacked schedule over the first two months of the season. The attitude is be good enough to win, not good enough to compete. 

“We’re not going to try to lose this season and take a bunch of positives from that,” Redick said. “We’re trying to win. We’re trying to be in the playoffs this year. That’s got to be the mindset.”

Joel Embiid 'surprised' by amount of playing time in Sixers' opener

Joel Embiid 'surprised' by amount of playing time in Sixers' opener

WASHINGTON — In the end, Joel Embiid’s playing time was a non-issue.

After days of frustration leading up to opening night, Embiid played just three seconds shy of 27 minutes against the Wizards. That far surpassed the 16 minutes he anticipated a day earlier on Tuesday (see story)

“I was surprised,” Embiid said following the Sixers’ 120-115 loss on Wednesday night (see observations). “I was expecting way less than that, but it just shows you they trust me.”

Brett Brown had maintained Embiid’s minutes were going to be more flexible than last year and he wasn’t locked into a specific number by the medical staff. Initially, Brown projected Embiid would play somewhere in the teens, but the game presented an opportunity for him to log more. 

Embiid had played 21:38 through three quarters and it seemed, based on last season, he was done for the night. The coaching staff calculated Embiid had over 20 minutes to rest between the third and the fourth quarters, so Brown put him back into the game with just over five minutes to play. He finished the game with 18 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, a block and four turnovers (see highlights).

“It’s a range,” Brown said. “It’s more of a plan that we have this year than a restriction. When you look at and you feel the flow of the game, that’s where the variables come in.”

Embiid wants open lines of communication between him and the medical staff — for him to know what its planning and for him to be honest about how he is feeling.

“It’s on me to not lie to them and tell them how my body feels when I’m tired,” Embiid said. “At some point through the game I was tired and I told them to take me out.”

Embiid is ready for a new outlook on his availability moving forward. 

“We’ve got to stop calling it 'minutes restrictions,'" Embiid said. "There’s a plan with that — it’s just go out and play. If you’re tired, get out because injuries happen more often when you’re tired.”