Thursday , Dec , 03 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Who has leverage: Allen Iverson or the Philadelphia 76ers?

For years, Allen Iverson held his cult following and on-court talents over the Philadelphia 76ers. When in the wrong, Iverson would never be held to account because, quite frankly, the organization needed him to sell tickets and win games. It didn’t matter if one of his boys ran afoul of the law. It didn’t matter if he dropped a rap album with offensive lyrics. It didn’t matter if he and his wife got caught in a bizarre and very public incident. And practice? Well, we all know how much that mattered …


Who has leverage: Allen Iverson or the Philadelphia 76ers?Breaking NBA news mixed with analysis …

Their News: "In a move that appeared farfetched after their acrimonious split in 2006, the 76ers reunited with the briefly retired Iverson on Wednesday in a move designed to spike sagging attendance and fill in for the injured Lou Williams." TSN.ca

My Quick Analysis: We have again witnessed the power of leverage.

For years, Allen Iverson held his cult following and on-court talents over the Philadelphia 76ers. When in the wrong, Iverson would never be held to account because, quite frankly, the organization needed him to sell tickets and win games.

It didn’t matter if one of his boys ran afoul of the law. It didn’t matter if he dropped a rap album with offensive lyrics. It didn’t matter if he and his wife got caught in a bizarre and very public incident. And practice? Well, we all know how much that mattered.      

Iverson, the franchise face, possessed the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card. In fact, there wasn’t a jail or even a card during most of his run with the 76ers because the organization risked a severe fan backlash by threatening to punish their superstar.

Iverson had leverage. He knew it. And he used it. But after refusing to re-enter the fourth quarter of a game in December, 2006, Philadelphia had no choice but to trade him. 

Three years later, the pendulum has swung the other way. But has it swung a full 180 degrees?

After failing with the Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, and Memphis Grizzlies, the 76ers dictated the terms of Iverson’s comeback. This time, they had leverage and used it, forcing the former MVP to accept a non-guaranteed, one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum. Oh, and it’s pro-rated since the season is a month old.  

For Philadelphia, this is almost a no-brainer. With starting table-setter Lou Williams out two months and the team struggling, Iverson will provide an instant lift and some much needed enthusiasm. His presence will spark a buzz in a city that has grown somewhat apathetic towards pro basketball.

However, the arrangement is not risk free. Suppose the future first ballot Hall of Famer and the club fall out over his minutes or role. And suppose they again part on bad terms, which is a possibility and simple enough when dealing with a non-guaranteed contract. Iverson and Philadelphia would have forever compromised what they accomplished from 1996-2007. 

A third tour together wouldn’t be in the cards. Iverson would likely walk as the hero, while the organization would likely be cast as the villain. And the already dwindling 76er fan base would become even more disconnected.

Perhaps, Iverson knows this. And perhaps, he has just a little leverage in this situation, after all.    

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