Until Stefanski called and brought him back to the Sixers after a 4-year absence.
Iverson would have an emotional news conference and a raucous homecoming, and would play in 25 games before leaving the team in early March following an illness to his 4-year-old daughter, Messiah.
According to a Daily News survey conducted by Temple University's Sport Industry Research Center, 65 percent of respondents who indicated the Sixers are their favorite team in the city said bringing back Iverson was the right move. For 27 percent, it was the wrong move, and 8 percent were not sure.
For the man who signed him, there is no doubt.
"The impact he had on the locker room, the spark he provided, playing good basketball and the way he blended in was good for the team," Stefanski said. "When he got here, he was terrific. People ask me all the time if I would do it again. I tell them I would in a second. He was good for our team, and no one's career got thrown down while he was here."
When the Sixers announced on Dec. 2 that Iverson would be returning, fan reaction was understandably mixed. Iverson was 34; had some troubles during his tenures in Denver, Detroit and Memphis; and certainly wasn't the player Sixers fans remembered.
"We needed someone to replace Lou, and no one out there came close to the name of Allen Iverson from a basketball standpoint," Stefanski said.
Iverson brought life back to the team with his electrifying personality, and - believe it or not - his leadership. Rookie Jrue Holiday spoke numerous times of the lessons he learned in watching Iverson's competitive nature. Veterans Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand often touted Iverson's play and work ethic. Though the wins never accumulated the way the team envisioned - the Sixers were 10-15 with Iverson - their play did improve.
The expectation that he would help draw fans to the Wachovia Center also never proved true, beyond the sellout for his return.
Iverson battled through an arthritic knee, which required four drainings. He averaged 13.9 points and shot only 41.7 percent from the floor with the Sixers before his departure.
"No one can deny that he was good for this team when he was here," Stefanski said. "We needed a spark. Lou was playing very well when he got hurt. He was scoring the ball, and we had to get someone in who could do that. The whole time he was here, we had zero problems with Allen." *