There is no bait and switch here. What they're selling, they'll tell you, is what it will be. Ice Cube's BIG3 3-on-3 tour hits Philadelphia Sunday evening and while there are several dozen former NBA players hitting the court, the last of four halfcourt games is the main event, the featured event, because of Allen Iverson.
He'll be coaching, and playing a little. That's the real hook Sunday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Maybe Iverson didn't like it when Larry Brown used to give him a rest, but he'll be giving himself the hook.
"I'm not going to go out there and be the 25-year-old Allen Iverson — you're going to see a 42-year-old man out there,'' Iverson said, sitting with Ice Cube Saturday afternoon. Instead of a press conference, the pair did a string of one-on-one interviews for 90 minutes. "But to be able to do that, for my fans, I thought that would be cool, just to get back out there again … for my fans to get that flashback."
So was that part of the pitch that Ice Cube, BIG3 co-founder, made with his business partners to Iverson?
"That was part of the dream,'' Ice Cube said. "The hope, the wish. Just seeing him run out of that tunnel in that uniform, seeing him warm up, basketball in his hands. I just look at the faces of the people in the crowd. They just love it. They just love that they get to see Allen Iverson on the court playing again."
The game goes to 50 points and Iverson said, "You're fooling yourself if you think I'm going to be out there for the whole 50 points. It's not going to happen. I think I've been doing a good job of letting fans know that's not going to be the case. I don't even expect them to think they're going to see the same MVP Allen Iverson. I've been retired for six, seven years."
He had an Iverson-looking hoop in Brooklyn, taking six shots to get his buckets and all the cheers before going back to the bench. Again, he's not over-selling here.
A couple of extra minutes for Philly?
"Why you doing this to me?'' Iverson joked. "I'm going to give them what I can, trust me. I approach every game like that. The same way. I am trying to win. I'm the oldest on my team. Those dudes play every day."
Iverson is coaching 3's Company. Since it's Philadelphia, the schedule wrote itself, with the opponent being Tri-State, coached by Julius Erving. (No, Dr. J won't be playing).
Will Iverson be trash-talking Doc?
"Oh I will, trust me,'' Iverson said. "It's going to be fun. … We're in Philadelphia and Doc is on the other end. That right there in itself should be memorable for the fans of Philadelphia."
"Seeing these guys compete again, even if it's just trash-talking for a W, here in Philadelphia, I think the fans are going to get a treat out of that,'' Ice Cube said. "When you come to this arena and you see Allen Iverson and Dr. J, they're usually in street clothes, they wave, and be an ambassador for the Sixers. When you come Sunday they will be competing forces against each other, trying to get a W. And both of them need a W bad."
"Definitely,'' Iverson said, laughing. His team is 1-2, Erving's team the only one among the eight teams yet to get a win after stops in Brooklyn, Charlotte, and Tulsa. Rasual Butler and Cuttino Mobley are other locals playing.
"They'll be impressed,'' Iverson said of the hoops provided, with the first game tipoff at 6 p.m., four games, his group out there last. If Iverson was in selling mode, he was all in. "They want to see good basketball, they won't be wasting their money on a ticket. These guys who are playing haven't disappointed."
While Iverson wore a 76ers hat, Ice Cube wore an Allen Iverson T-shirt, a caricature of the real thing, hand raised to his ear, wearing number 3.