The sight of Philadelphia 76er great Allen Iverson sitting on the bench with a towel wrapped over his head, hands wrapped in his towel covering his face leaving only his red eyes peeking through. That was a sight that tugged at the heartstrings of every avid Sixer fan. The Sixers had just lost another playoff series only a couple years after the magical run to the NBA Finals in 2001.
It was heartbreaking.
Both times I saw that look on my favorite basketball player's face, I just knew, as a fan, he'd come back to fix it next year. I knew he was determined to make it happen. Allen Iverson didn't take no for an answer -- he was the Answer -- and I believed him every time. And that's why Sixer loved him; Iverson was a warrior.
The 2002-'03 season was just as heartbreaking ending with another tearful exit for the warrior and despite what I felt Iverson would do for us, we'd never again see the light of the second round in the NBA playoffs.
Along the way, the Sixers were shoved under the Philadelphia sports pile by a subsequent flurry of Philadelphia sports teams success. The Philadelphia Eagles 2003 NFC Championship appearance, 2004 Super Bowl appearance, a 2008 NFC Championship game, a Philadelphia Phillies MLB Championship, and a 2010 Stanley Cup appearance by the Philadelphia Flyers overshadowed a historical team we had in the NBA.
Meanwhile, in 2003-'04, the Sixers didn't even make the playoffs dropping to a 33-49 record. In 2004-'05, the Sixers were, again, ousted by Rip Hamilton and the Detroit Pistons. In 2005-'06, after starting the season 3-0, the Sixers had their internal problems come to a boil, forcing them to trade off their franchise player. From there, mediocrity set in, and it looked like a never ending cycle was bound stay in place until we made some moves and tanked.
Fortunately, with Iverson-era picks like Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala, picks like Thaddeus Young, and Jrue Holiday, and the happenings of good fortune in the overall number two pick of Evan Turner, the team was able to load up on young talent to try to build on that mediocrity.
Thursday night, in Philadelphia, they took advantage of an opportunity to experience another round of playoffs as a very young team.
A hard-fought game ended with one of the most criticized players in the city of brotherly love doing what he does best -- execute the intangibles -- to thrust the Sixers into the next round of the playoffs.
Bulls forward Omer Asik was fouled with 7 seconds left, and Philly held its breath as the 40 percent free throw shooter only needed to miss one.
He missed both.
Andre Iguodala boxed out his player, pulled the board, ran the full length of the court and drew the foul.
He hit both free throws to put the Sixers up one. Once and for all.
Coupled with a few opportunistic occurrences, along wit a plunge that put them in a position to stay out of the way of the Miami Heat, the Sixers are poised to try to see if they can start that 20-9 play up again, and take on either the Boston Celtics who they have outscored on an average of 94-87 in the head-to-head matchup this season. (All games coming down the stretch of the season.)
Indeed this is an exciting moment for the team, and there's much to look forward to in the future. The young team is gaining some experience, and their opportunity does not have to stop with the Bulls injury. This series they can show just how competitive they can be, and instill that initial fear that they were brewing in the beginning of the season.
It's a new series. It's a new season.
'Show ya luv'
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