Monday , Feb , 28 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA trade for Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Philadelphia has two superstars on its roster. When team president and general manager Billy King acquired Chris Webber from the Sacramento Kings in a multi-player deal before Thursday’s trade deadline, he gave the Sixers’ fans visions of All-Star Allen Iverson and Webber becoming one of the most exciting one-two scoring punches in the NBA.

On Wednesday night, the 76ers traded forwards Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson and Brian Skinner to Sacramento for Webber, Michael Bradley and Matt Barnes.

Webber made his debut for the 76ers on Saturday evening, as he faced his former team at the Wachovia Center. The Kings knocked off Philadelphia, 101-99, to spoil Webber’s first game in a Sixers’ uniform.

The five-time All-Star Webber registered a double-double in Saturday’s loss as he finished with 16 points and a 11 rebounds in 37 minutes of action. Webber was 7-of-20 from the field and 2-for-2 from the foul line.

“Chris (Webber) played 37 minutes, that’s probably too many minutes,” said Philadelphia head coach Jim O’Brien after the loss to Sacramento. “He needs to get a break, but I would not disagree that his tempo was down at some points.

“I think that was a lot of time to play, considering what has gone on in his life, in the last couple days. He flew from Sacramento to Dallas, got traded, flew from Dallas to Sacramento to DC, got his physical, and then headed to Philadelphia to have practice. I think the fact that he played 37 minutes at the level that he did, is a real tribute to him.”

Iverson, who is a six-time All-Star, registered game-highs with 27 points and 14 assists in the loss to Sacramento. Webber enjoyed playing with his new teammate.

“He’s (Iverson) incredible,” said Iverson. The one thing I will say is I’m coming from one great point guard to one of the greatest, so that’s another thing, just the movements. Mike (Bibby) is deadly and slow. [Iverson is] quick, sassy… he’s gonna hurt you bad, quick. So there’s differences like learning pacing, learning what guys are like, learning their pet moves, and things like that. I just tried to stay out of A.I.’s way.”

Playing in his ninth season in the league, Iverson finally has the second star that he has been asking for during his career. The 29-year-old Iverson is thrilled to have Webber as a teammate.

“It’s great,” said Iverson. “Like you said, the atmosphere was great (at the Wachovia Center). Fans showed great support for him (Webber). We were happy to see that, see them embrace him like that. Hopefully it’s the start of something good.

“I wish he could have got his first game here a win, start things off right, but hopefully we’ll get that done in Milwaukee (on Tuesday). But it was a lot of positives in this game.”

Iverson, who leads Philadelphia in scoring (29.7 ppg) and assists (7.8 apg) is one of the most fearless competitors in the NBA. He will try to prove to the rest of the league that he can get Philadelphia, which last appeared in the NBA Finals in the 2000-2001 season, over the hump now that he has a proven star by his side.

The 31-year-old Webber, who turns 32 on March 1st, is not the same athletic player that he was when he entered the league in 1993, but he is still, arguably, one of the top power forwards in the NBA. The Michigan product, who is still hampered by a surgically repaired knee, can knock down the outside shot and will take a lot pressure of his new teammate Iverson.

“Obviously, it will help me out,” Iverson said about Webber drawing double-teams. “I’m used to guys double-teaming, triple-teaming me. It’ll be good for a change to have somebody on the floor that’s getting double- teamed. I think it only can help me in the long run.”

Webber has played in 47 games this season and is averaging 21.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. He has scored in double-digits in 46 contests and has registered four triple-doubles.

Iverson and Webber should work out fine in Philly. Both players will make each other better in every aspect of the game. The court will open up for Iverson with Webber on the floor, while the Michigan product will benefit from the attention his new point guard will get when he is handling the ball.

Is Philadelphia a serious contender in the East with the addition of Webber?

If Webber and Iverson can stay healthy, Philadelphia should be able to earn its way into the playoffs. It will take time for the two to learn each others tendencies, but the fact is that as long as these superstars are on the court together Philadelphia is capable of competing with and beating any team in the Eastern Conference.