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Posted at 08:37 AM ET, 05/24/2012

Allen Iverson: “I want to play basketball so bad”


Allen Iverson with the game ball before tipoff of Game 6 between his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Boston Celtics. (Matt Slocum / AP)

Bringing back a legendary player before a big playoff game doesn’t always pay off.

But for the Philadelphia 76ers, trailing 3-2 in their playoff series against the Boston Celtics, the presence of Allen Iverson was “The Answer” as Philadelphia forced Game 7 with an 82-75 victory Wednesday night.

Iverson, wearing a No. 23 Lou Williams jersey and a Sixers Liberty Bell hat, looked as if he hadn’t played in over two years. The MVP of the 76ers’ last conference-finals appearance, Iverson has had a number of difficulties since his last NBA game — possible financial problems and a brief playing stint in Turkey — but his presence was a timely inspiration to the Sixers, John Smallwood wrote on philly.com.

There was nothing magical about his appearance, nothing more than a legend coming home to provide a bit of support.
Still, there was something Iversonesque about the Sixers' effort in a must-win situation to push this to limit, to a Game 7.
They played hard - Iverson hard. They played like it was their last game, which it could have been for the 2011-12 season.
It wasn't pretty. It wasn't neat. It wasn't perfect.
But it was all heart, dug deep from that reserve in the Wells Fargo Center that Iverson always seemed to tap into.

Not to ruin the feel-good moment in Philly, but Iverson also happened to be wearing the Reebok Question, a shoe that goes on sale Friday, as he brought the ball to midcourt to a standing ovation before tipoff. And there’s some not so feel-good history for him in Philly: the No. 1 draft pick in 1996, he was traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2006 and had a brief stint with the team again in 2010.

Iverson, who’ll turn 37 next month, reminded everyone that he’d like to play again, no matter how sadly unrealistic that may seem, in an interview with ESPN’s Lisa Salters.

“I'm not using that word [retired]. I want to play basketball so bad,” he said. “The way it is right now, I've accepted the fact that [the NBA] may not happen, but I still want to play basketball.”

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