PHILADELPHIA - The A.I. Show took center stage again in Philly.
And the early returns have Philadelphia 76ers fans in love with the revival as much as the original.
All Allen Iverson needs to do now is help the Sixers win. Iverson scored 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting and had six assists in Philadelphia’s 10th straight loss, 93-83 to Denver on Monday night.
“I had chill-bumps running all through my body the whole game,” Iverson said. “It just felt good to be back.”
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Iverson took a familiar route to the Wachovia Center for his first game since returning to the Sixers last week. He pulled in to the players parking lot, waving to fans who waited in the cold for a glimpse of one of the most polarizing athletes in Philadelphia’s deep sports history.
He hit the court for warmups to the sound of fans screaming his name and holding “Welcome Home” signs. He took passes from his former 76ers backcourt teammate Aaron McKie, now an assistant coach.
He sank shot after shot to the delight of the crowd and broke out in a wide smile as they erupted in cheers.
“That was the best part of the night, just hearing these people’s voices all over again,” he said.
Iverson was edited out of highlights and banished from the team in the week leading up to his acrimonious 2006 trade to Denver.
But he got a greatest hits montage Monday and a sellout crowd of 20,664 stood and roared in approval.
There was an NBA Finals electricity in the arena for a team that hasn’t won a playoff series since 2003 and was 29th in attendance. The Sixers averaged a measly 11,965 fans in their first eight home games.
But Iverson received a standing ovation when he left in the fourth quarter.
He was introduced fourth, bowed and kissed the logo at midcourt, then joined his teammates for a little dance.
He missed his first shot, a makable layup early in the first quarter.
“I did the best I could,” Iverson said. “My heart said yes, but my body said no. My legs were weak, my arms were weak.”
Iverson has time to work his way back into shape. Coach Eddie Jordan said Iverson may start the rest of the season for the struggling Sixers.
“I feel like I am home,” Iverson said. “Just seeing people I’m accustomed to seeing, seeing the reporters, seeing some of the fans when I go out to eat. Just the smell of Philadelphia when I go outside.”