Sixers retire Iverson's No. 3, lose to Wizards

Allen Iverson greets the crowd.
Allen Iverson greets the crowd. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 03, 2014

For one night, the spirit that used to accompany more-successful teams was pervasive through the sold-out crowd of 20,856 at the Wells Fargo Center.

The 76ers fans came to honor Allen Iverson, who had his No. 3 jersey lifted to the rafters. Even though the 38-year-old Iverson is four years past his last NBA game, he can still draw and inspire a crowd.

Another Sixers loss was by far the secondary story, this time a 122-103 defeat to the Washington Wizards. It was the 13th consecutive defeat.

Iverson momentarily took the Sixers fans' minds off the current team and revisited an era when there was frequently a buzz in the crowd, a reason to cheer.

And cheer they did during an emotion-filled halftime ceremony.

After a video tribute that included several eye-popping Iverson highlights, another video tribute came from former coach Larry Brown. Then Sixers owner Josh Harris made a brief speech before Iverson took center stage.

He recreated a famous action, cupping his ear, asking the crowd to cheer more. The fans didn't need much encouragement.

Attired in all black, including his hat and black-rimmed glasses, Iverson paid tribute to his family and close friends; ex-Sixers in attendance, such as Julius Erving and Moses Malone; and his former teammates. He even thanked certain media members.

But the biggest applause came when he addressed the fans.

"They wanted me to talk about how much you all love me, but trust me, the feeling is mutual," Iverson said to the fans, who gave a thunderous response.

Iverson's final message to the fans was to the point.

"I love you all, and now it's time to party," he said.

The roars were deafening, and it's something that Iverson cherished. While meeting reporters afterward, he talked about the conflicting feelings he had over the roar of the crowd.

"It is basically bittersweet," the 38-year-old Iverson said. "It feels good, but some part of my heart hurts because I realize and understand it is over."

For somebody who was so used to the spotlight, that isn't an easy revelation.

He acknowledged the missteps he had over the years, but in typical Iverson fashion, had no regrets.

"I am not embarrassed about my life," he said. "If I could go back I wouldn't change anything about me."

The accomplishments were plentiful, beginning with being named NBA rookie of the year in 1996-97, reaching the 2000-01 NBA Finals, winning the NBA MVP that season, earning two All-Star Game MVPs, four NBA scoring titles, and the list goes on.

Yet, his relationship with Sixers fans remains among his greatest memories.

"There is nothing like the way the fans connected with me in Philadelphia, it's like no other," Iverson told reporters. ". . . I gave everything I had on the basketball court, and the people in Philadelphia appreciated it, and just to know they appreciated it was a great feeling."

Another loss. Trevor Ariza made eight three-pointers and scored a career-high 40 points to help the Wizards win their sixth straight game. Ariza made all six three-point attempts in the first quarter for 24 points and finished 14 of 23 from the floor overall. Tony Wroten led the Sixers with 19 points. Thaddeus Young had 17, and Michael Carter-Williams had 15 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds.


 

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