Allen Iverson's return to the Sixers may be drawing to a close. He's taken another leave of absence to be with his ill daughter. There are rumors the team is contemplating severing ties with Iverson, which is repugnant. After the jump we'll take a look at his impact on the team in his second run in Philly.
Basketball should really be the furthest thing from Iverson's mind right now. I can't even begin to imagine what he's going through and I wish this franchise would treat him with some respect, especially in his time of need. Ed Snider, Ed Stefanski and Eddie Jordan should be ashamed of themselves if they're seriously considering pulling the rug out from under him right now.
I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong about a couple of things when Iverson was first signed. I wasn't sure if he could subjugate his game for the better of the team. I wasn't sure how his presence would hinder the development of the younger players on the team and I was also worried about the on-the-floor ramifications of adding another poor defender to the mix. Looking back now, I think I was wrong to a certain extent on all of those, and we'll get to the stats in a minute or two.
But before we talk about the on-the-floor aspect, let's talk about what this move was really about. Money. The chart below shows the reported attendance for each home game this season. Games after Iverson joined the team are in blue. I've made notes on the games in which the attendance boost was a result of a visiting star, or local hero in Tyreke Evans' case.
When you throw out the numbers for the games where a visiting player clearly caused the bump, Iverson was worth a little over 2,000 more fans per game (I threw out his first game back for the average without the bump as well). If you count his first game back for about 9,500 more fans than the average before he came back, that brings our total to roughly 38,886 extra butts in the seats. That number may very well be low, because the apathy we saw early in the year surely would've snowballed as the team continued to lose. I'm going to call 38,886 a conservative estimate.
Here's the bottom line for the Sixers: If those 38,886 extra fans spent an average of $17 in their visits to the Wach, the Sixers made money off Iverson's $650,000 contract. When you factor in the Iverson jerseys they sold, I'd say they made out like bandits.
Here's an in-depth look at AI3's on-court impact:
As you can see, the team has been better since the Iverson signing in several key areas. Their absolute best split, basically across the board, is the ten games they've played without Iverson since his return (the column on the far right).
Now, I realize you can't definitively say they've been better because of Iverson, it could just be that they started to figure things out a little. Maybe they got healthier. Maybe Elton Brand being inserted back into the starting lineup was a deciding factor. Statistically, all we can say is that they've played better. Anecdotally, however, I think Iverson's influence has been positive on both ends. On the offensive end because he got them further away from the Princeton offense, and worked hard to get the bigs involved. Defensively because eventually someone decided Jrue Holiday needed more minutes if Iverson and Lou were going to be on the floor for extended periods of time.
The largest problem I had with Iverson on the floor was the downgraded role Andre Iguodala fell into for a week or so. Iverson started to show signs of dominating the ball, Iguodala essentially became a spot-up shooter and that's clearly not his best role, and it took AI9 out of the facilitator's role, which benefits the team the most.
With the rumors swirling and so much uncertainty surrounding his status, I thought now would be a good time to take a hard look at what he's meant this time around. Where we go from here with or without Iverson is anyone's guess. Personally, I really don't care if he plays another second of basketball. I want his daughter to recover, and I want Allen Iverson to do what he wants to do. Part of me feels like there would be more minutes for Jrue if Iverson didn't come back, but I'm pretty sure that's not the case. Jordan will find someone else to give Jrue's minutes to if AI3 returns.
I'll be sad if I never get to see Iverson on a basketball court again. I feel like he's giving so much to this franchise, this city and these fans that he deserves to go out on his own terms this time. Iverson doesn't personally have anything to do with the state of this franchise, the three Eds have screwed things up all on their own. It's simply deplorable to think they might ostensibly turn Iverson into a scapegoat for the final chapter of his Philadelphia story.