Love him or hate him, the town is abuzz

Posted: December 03, 2009

Tony Davis couldn't stay off the phone.

Davis, the owner/manager of How Ya Wannit? barbershop, was trying focus on cutting his customers' hair. Instead, he spent yesterday afternoon picking up the phone.

In every instance, the caller wanted to talk about Allen Iverson's return to the 76ers.

Yesterday morning, the 6-foot guard agreed to the organization's one-year, non-guaranteed contract. Iverson had played 10-plus seasons for the Sixers before being traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2006.

"Man, people have been talking about this all day and it's still early," Davis said around 1 p.m. "People are still at work. People are still in school."

The conversations weren't limited to the phone.

The barbershop, located at 1630 Margaret St. in the Frankford section of Philadelphia, was packed, just as it usually is.

How Ya Wannit? has been at this particular location since 2001. Before that, it was located on Frankford Avenue, across from Frankford Hospital, for three years.

More than just a barbershop, it's a place where police officers, preachers, lawyers, real estate brokers, doctors, blue-collar workers, you name it, all go to debate sports. Wilt Chamberlain stopped by a couple of times. Chamberlain's best friend, Vince Miller, the former boys' basketball coach at Frankford High, was a fixture there before he passed away in February.

Miller, a die-hard basketball fan, would have enjoyed yesterday's topic at the barbershop.

"We got hope now," said Quel Crews, a frequent visitor and Sixers fan. "We needed a scorer. We don't have one. We got Louis Williams. He's an all right player. But he's no Iverson. He's not a No. 1 option. We got our No. 1 option back."

Crews was one of many people in the barbershop who felt that way.

Barber Zo Mayo even purchased tickets for Monday's game against the Denver Nuggets. That's supposed to be Iverson's first game during his second go-round with the Sixers. Customer Sharif Greene said he is going to buy season tickets tomorrow. Mayo and Greene both stopped attending Sixers games after Iverson left.

"I wasn't going to pay to see [Andre] Iguodala," said Greene, while getting his hair cut. "I wasn't going to pay to see that. But since Iverson is here, hey, I got to go. That's my man. I've always been a fan of Iverson."

Not everyone at the barbershop was delighted that the Sixers re-signed Iverson. Barber Terrell Taylor is fearful that Iverson's score-first mentality will hurt the team.

"He isn't going to come back and teach the youngsters basically what he needs to teach them, which is fundamentals," Taylor said. "He is going to come back and take over the ball instead of teaching."

Taylor said Iverson needs to prove he can do much more than score points. Taylor doesn't even care Iverson led the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals, since the Los Angeles Lakers won that series in five games.

"We need a guy who can make teammates better," he said. "Not a just a guy who took us to one championship series and we won one game and then we were out of it. We have nothing to show for it."

Rasheed Newton disagreed.

The barber said Iverson is ready to become the leader of a team.

"I think he has some humility about himself now, being traded and losing a couple of dollars," Newton said. "So for him to come back and maybe retire here, I think that is definitely a good thing for him and the city."

Freddy Greathouse said the move is better than just good.

"This is the best move they made," said Greathouse, who was getting his hair cut. "Think about it. Elton Brand is a bum. . . . I'm just going down there to see A.I. play."

Davis, a Lakers fan, also said it was the best move.

"I'll tell you this, Monday night is going to be a championship atmosphere. Watch," he said. "I'm not even a Sixers fan and I'm excited. It's going to be really, really major."


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029

or kpompey@phillynews.com.

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