Bitterness gone, A.I. speaks fondly of Philly and Sixers fans

Posted: March 21, 2007

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Absence has not made the heart grow fonder, and Allen Iverson says life as a Denver Nugget is still all peaches and cream.

But last night, in his first game back on the East Coast since being traded from the Sixers on Dec. 19, Iverson conceded there are still things he occasionally misses about the place he called home for the first decade of his NBA career.

"I owe a lot to the people in Philadelphia," Iverson said last night after Denver beat the New Jersey Nets, 94-90. "The fans, they were the best. They supported me through my ups and downs. It's tough sometimes because I miss them. I'll flick through the channels and see some the Sixer fans, some people that I recognize on TV still at the games. It's different.

"I'd been in Philadelphia 10 years. I knew [getting traded to Denver] was going to be a challenge mentally. I always thought life would come to an end if I ever left Philadelphia. But I actually feel like a newborn. It took a while to get Philadelphia out of my system, but it is out of there now. Being in Denver is just a better situation for me. I'm happy because I feel like I have an opportunity to win basketball games here."

Asked about the Sixers organization, Iverson displayed none of the bitterness he showed when asked the same question a month ago during the All-Star Weekend.

"I think I could have handled things a lot better," Iverson said of the circumstances that led up to his trade. "I think they could have handled some things better. But the situation is over and down with now. People should find a way to just let it go.

"I wish the Sixers well, and I honestly thank the organization and Pat Croce for drafting me; giving me the opportunity to become a household name. Without Philadelphia, you wouldn't know A.I. all over the world. [The Sixers] gave me the opportunity. When I was there, they let me play my style of basketball. They gave me the opportunity to take care of my family, to see parts of the world that I never thought I'd see. I owe a lot to the people of Philadelphia and the Sixers."

Iverson said he is not surprised that Sixers, who are 21-24 since the trade, are playing better than anyone expected.

"I played with those guys," said Iverson, adding that he does not make it a habit to follow the Sixers. "I know they've got heart and a lot of character. I knew they weren't going to just lay down. I'm not surprised they are playing well. They are NBA players. They're professionals and have to act accordingly." *

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