SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

And The Meaning Of This Is?

Allen Iverson scored 60 points last night as the 25-26 76ers beat the Orlando Magic by 13 points.

His team got to the NBA Finals in 2001, when Shaq and Kobe and teammates beat them in five games. Since then, the rest of the league has gotten a bit better, the 76ers a big worse, and, well, they're probably at best a first-round playoff casualty this year.

It's true that Iverson hasn't had the best supporting cast during his career, getting a Yang to his Ying. Then again, Tracy McGrady got a Yao to his Ying, and so far Houston still has some problems. (They're good but not good enough, at least yet). As for Iverson, the question to a degree is whether the Sixers just haven't been able to find the right complements or whether Iverson hasn't been unselfish enough to enable the right complements do what complements are supposed to do.

Make a one-and-gun team into the Seattle Supersonics, the Phoenix Suns or the San Antonio Spurs.

He's not that young anymore -- he's 29 -- and there's only so much time left before the hoops gods don't prevent that small body from taking the pounding that he takes every game. He's a valiant warrior and he plays very hard, but in the current vernacular of the working world, he's supposed to play smarter and not harder. And that means, of course, helping make teammates better and helping make his team's offense a well-choreographed exercise like these guys and not an offense that relies on the age-old clear out.

He's fun to watch, he's one of the league's most popular players (in terms of jersey sales) and without him the 76ers' attendance would probably sink to among the lowest in the league.

And without him the 76ers' place in the standings would probably sink even lower too.

The big question remains whether, with him, the 76ers' place in the standings can return to the lofty perch that the team established just a few years ago.

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