What, then, did Erden think would be the hardest part for the former Sixers star?
"No hardest part," he said, smiling.
Strangely, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said there had been conversation about Iverson among the Celtics coaches earlier in the day. Iverson played three games with the Memphis Grizzlies last season, then came back to the Sixers for 25, struggling much of the time with a bad knee. He was unable to show the explosion and ability to get into the paint that had made him a four-time scoring champion in 10-plus seasons with the Sixers before being traded to Denver and Detroit.
"That's a tough one," Rivers said. "He's a great player, and now we see him struggling. But I'm really not concerned about him basketballwise. It's just . . . whatever's going on with him off the court, I hope it settles down and he's doing better.
"I worry about all our guys. I want them to do well in life, after basketball."
Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal, who sat out last night's game, offered a similar perspective.
"I wanted to see him stay in the league," O'Neal said. "I think he could be a solid point guard. I'm smart enough to know that [at this stage of my career] I don't have to do all the work. He doesn't have to be A.I. anymore. If he could just be Allen, it'd probably work, but some guys don't have the right attitude to do that.
"He was always The Little Shaq.' He did get beat up a lot."
Brown endorses Jordan
Eddie Jordan's only 76ers team finished 27-55. And when last season ended, Jordan seemed to disappear from view, other than to be involved briefly in the search for the Rutgers head-coaching job. The home and cell numbers he had shared with some members of the media were immediately disconnected. With 2 guaranteed years left on his contract, worth an estimated $6 million, he was gone.
Jordan finally surfaced publicly late September when he visited the Charlotte Bobcats' training camp. With coach Larry Brown's blessing, he was even on the floor for a bit, working with players.
"He called during the summer, asked if he could come," Brown said. "He doesn't want to be a college coach. I know when I left the Knicks, I visited other teams - I probably drove Jay Wright crazy at Villanova. In the past, coaches who had been fired and were trying to get back in had visited with my teams. I just like to open it up for guys."
Rivers backs West
Former Saint Joseph's University star Delonte West, in his second stint with the Celtics, sat out with back spasms.
"He's been phenomenal," coach Doc Rivers said. "We couldn't have ordered a better fit for out team. He brings a toughness, an ability to play '1' and '2,' and defensively he's just a tough kid. He's been here once before. He knows who we are; he knows who I am. We have a very good relationship."
West is suspended for the first 10 games of the regular season after pleading guilty to traffic and weapons charges stemming from a traffic stop Sept. 17, 2009, in which he was arrested after it was found that, while riding a three-wheeled motorcycle, he was carrying three firearms in a guitar case. *
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