It’s always fun to look back and see how things could have been different. Since I covered the 76ers for a big chunk of the ‘90s, one of the things I’ve thought about a lot over the years is how the team could have been different if Larry Brown were still in charge instead of Jerry Colangelo. In fact, I’ve even made a few guesses as to how things might have gone differently if the team had traded in Allen Iverson for David Robinson—or if they had traded for Shaquille O’Neal.
In late 1999, the Philadelphia 76ers were on the hunt for a new head coach after Chuck Daly announced his retirement. The team had hired former Celtics’ coach Larry Brown just a month before to fill Daly’s shoes. On the surface, the situation seemed promising for Sixers fans: Brown was well respected in the NBA, and had a respectable winning percentage of .570 (22-19) as both a head coach and an executive with the New York Knicks.
Philadelphia 76ers legend Allen Iverson has been a force to be reckoned with throughout his career, which has often led to a strained relationship between him and his longtime coach Larry Brown. Brown and Iverson wanted to win titles with the 76ers, but they had their own problems along the way. Their feud became so intense that the head coach wanted the front office to trade his superstar defender.
Larry Brown wanted to trade Allen Iverson in 1999
Allen Iverson (R) and NBA head coach Larry Brown had their issues when they worked together for the Philadelphia 76ers. | Jeff Kowalski/AFP via Getty Images Allen Iverson has always been a free agent. Certainly not as free as Dennis Rodman, but someone who has accepted not to be like everyone else and to live his life as he sees fit. The All-Star guard has become an NBA icon in the post-Michael Jordan era with his loose-fitting clothes, insightful comments and sensational moments.
However, he also had a disagreement with head coach Larry Brown, who wanted his star player to focus solely on basketball. Brown’s traditional attitude and views were never matched by Iverson, and vice versa. In April 2007, GQ magazine wrote an article about Iverson, and the interview yielded some interesting anecdotes. Pat Croce, former president and minority owner of the 76ers, said the feud between the two men had become so serious that the team held an intervention of sorts in December 1999. Larry wanted me to fire Allen the next day and Allen wanted me to fire Larry the same day.
I looked into it further: Larry, Allen thinks you look like a prison guard. Allen, what do you think Larry thinks about you getting a turn when you leave the field? … Finally Allen got up, walked around the table and hugged Larry. It was a turning point for the team. Pat Croce Although Mr. Croce did not mention the exact date of the December meeting, he is right about one thing: At the turn of the millennium, Iverson and the 76ers took off. In games played after 1. In January 2000, the 76ers posted a 32-18 record and were eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals by a score of 49-33.
The 76ers parted ways with Iverson in the 2006-07 season.
OTD (2006) The 76ers traded Allen Iverson to the Nuggets for Andre Miller, Joe Smith and future draft picks (DeQuan Cook and Petteri Koponen). The trade came two weeks after AI requested the exchange, and one day after Melo was suspended for 15 games for a brawl with the Knicks.pic.twitter.com/ETuNf6Blqe – Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 19, 2019 The Philadelphia 76ers didn’t trade Iverson in December 1999, but he didn’t play in the City of Brotherly Love forever.
After the 2002-03 season, Brown resigned to take the job of head coach with the Detroit Pistons. The 76ers kept changing coaches until Iverson got bored. After a feud with coach Maurice Cheeks in 2006, the former MVP asked to be traded. The 76ers traded Iverson to the Denver Nuggets in December 2006. He and Carmelo Anthony were on the same team in the booming Western Conference until Denver sent Iverson to Detroit at the start of the 2008-09 season. Just over a year later, in late 2009, Iverson returned to the 76ers’ team, now coached by Eddie Jordan.
He averaged 13.9 points in 25 games, but left the team in February 2010 for personal reasons related to his daughter’s health.
Brown and Iverson have grown closer over the years
What was it like coaching Allen Iverson? Former head coach Larry Brown sat down with the folks at Sixers Talk to talk about his memories of The Answer. – NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 8, 2020 That December 1999 meeting did not make Brown and Iverson best friends. But at least it gets them on the same page. The All-Star defender hasn’t changed and has remained one of the most iconic players of his generation.
Brown realized he couldn’t change Iverson, but he could make the most of a player who wanted to be the best at what he did. The retreat was good for both characters and their relationship. Iverson praised Brown in his Hall of Fame speech in the fall of 2016, thanking the coach for his leadership and constructive criticism. Brown, meanwhile, has admitted in recent years how much he admires Iverson’s dedication to the game and his overall talent. It’s a heartwarming ending for two people who might never have reconciled if they hadn’t put their cards on the table.
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COMPARED TO: Michael Jordan scares Allen Iverson by telling his best friend from the Sixers that he won’t be in time for the game when he comes in