Growing up in Philly I was raised on two things; Church and Sports...Philadelphia Sports to be exact. It is expected to love all of your Philly teams Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, and Sixers, no matter what. Thru the good, the bad, and the excruciating, you keep the faith. My Dad taught me that.
In my life time (29 yrs) there are few pro surperstars who have had the heart that transcends sport in Philadelphia. For the die hard Flyers fans remember Eric Lindros, or better yet, remember Eric Lindros' Dad...'nuff said. Then there was the Notre Dame product Ricky Waters, four words people, four words, "For Who, For What!?" That dude just didn't get it. The Philles aren't safe either, how about that Von Hays. I remember taking a picture with the then famous Philly, it was a cardboard cutout, and that pretty much sums it up for Von Hays.
The year 1996 changed every thing, when an outspoken and passionate rookie had the nerve to cross-over Michael Jordan and steal our hearts.
Allen Iverson was a sports star who was unlike any other at the time. He was himself and didn't apologize for it; what 16 year old doesn't love that? He changed a football town into a basketball town when he lead The Sixers to the Championship Series in '01. The Sixers were the only team to beat the Lakers that year in the playoffs, but sadly The Sixers didn't win enough games against LA to win the the series.
Iverson maybe known for alot of things, the tattoos, the off the court drama, and of course his infamous press-confrance about...what....what we talking about..."We Talkin' Bout Practice!"
The quote that I choose to remember that defines Iverson for me is, "Who Wants To Go War With Me."
That is the Allen Iverson that I know and love and missed for three years. He returned to his his original team in a humbling and emotional press-conference. It was obvious that he had grown, he had learned, and had brought passion back to a team that needed someone take them back into battle.
The Sixers lost against Denver in Iverson's first game back with his home team against his former team. (Yeah, he played for Denver, and why does our heart always go to Denver, Dawkins anyone.) The arena was packed, it was jumpin', it was the first sell-out in a LONG TIME. In the end The Sixers lost the game, but it didn't matter... I didn't matter at all.
The prodigal son was back home, and ran into the the open arms of a city, the city of Brotherly-Love. Welcome back Iverson, welcome home.