Uploaded on May 10, 2008
1996 NBA Draft
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Jun 26, 1996 )
Philadelphia knew about five minutes before the rest of the country: the 76ers selected point guard Allen Iverson with the first overall pick in the NBA draft Wednesday night.
General manager Brad Greenberg, speaking before about 4,000 fans at the Spectrum, gave the news before NBA commissioner David Stern strode to the lectern at the Continental Airlines Arena to announce the pick.
"We tipped the fans early because we wanted to show them that we appreciate their support," Greenberg said. "We're in a new era here and we gave them something nobody ever did before."
In reality, the 76ers decided on Iverson on Saturday, after he made a second visit to Philadelphia to work out for the team.
Earlier last week, the 76ers had two jerseys made up: one for Iverson and one for Stephon Marbury, the other talented point guard in the draft. After the second workout, Greenberg knew the Marbury jersey would not be needed.
"He's a special athlete and a special competitor and he has leadership ability," Greenberg said of Iverson. "He made it an easy decision."
Iverson, who said he didn't know for sure about the pick until it was made, referred both to a new era for the 76ers, a team that has lost successively more games in each of their last six seasons, and to the franchise's storied past.
"Dr. J and (Charles) Barkley, all those great players played for Philadelphia and they had some times in Philadelphia," he said. "Now, it's time to bring it back. This is a new era, and we're starting off with a new organization. It's up to us. All eyes will be on us."
Iverson, who turned 21 June 7, decided to forgo his final two seasons at Georgetown to make himself eligible for the draft. A first-team All-American who was the Big East Conference's defensive player of the year for the past two years, he averaged 23 points a game during his career with the Hoyas.
Although many scouts felt Iverson was the most dynamic player in the draft, there are questions as to whether he can adapt to the role the 76ers want him to play in the NBA.
Philadelphia envisions Iverson as a "pure" point guard who will distribute the ball to forward Derrick Coleman and shooting guard Jerry Stackhouse before looking for his own shot.
Iverson looked for his own shot first at Georgetown, but said he would have no trouble taking on a more selfless role.
"I'm not going to change my game any, but I don't have to look to score as much as I did," he said. "Now I have so many other great players on my team ... these guys are professionals and all of them are capable of scoring."
In some ways, he said, he looks forward to not having the pressure of being the primary scorer.
"It makes it easier, not having to score so much," he said. "I think that will make me more comfortable."
Iverson will also have to work with Coleman, the mercurial power forward who is one of the game's best -- when he wants to be. "I don't think I'll have to get Derrick Coleman to play. He wants to. I know he wants to."
Iverson has also had to answer questions about his off-the-court behavior. Specifically, he served five months in jail after being convicted for his role in a bowling alley brawl in Virginia. The sentence was eventually commuted.
76ers president Pat Croce said Iverson's past didn't figure into the decision.
"We've all had baggage in our past," he said. "This kid has gone through a battle all his life. The (basketball) court is easy for him, because of his lifestyle. He won't have any more pressure here than he's had in his life."
The 76ers listened to a number of trade offers for the first pick, but Croce said none was worth detailed consideration.
Vancouver was interested in trading their first pick, the third overall, for the first pick, but Croce said the 76ers didn't trust Toronto, which picked second.
"We were afraid (Toronto general manager Isiah) Thomas would steal our pick if we did something with Vancouver," he said. "We were afraid Isiah Thomas would do something sneaky."
Iverson isn't lacking for confidence. He said he didn't feel he has any weaknesses in his game, "but I know I have to work on every aspect of the game."
As for the future, Iverson is thinking big.
"When they talk about Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, when my time is up, I want them to put my name there."
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