Last Thursday flabbergasted 76ers general manager Billy King called team president Pat Croce from his office at Philly's training facility. "Guess who I have with me?" he said. "Allen's here."
Said Croce, "You're kidding!"
Allen Iverson was there to work out, but not before talking to King for 40 minutes about his role with the 76ers. It was the first time since the end of last season—during which Iverson was fined at least 50 times and suspended once for being late to practice—that he had met with a team official in Philly.
Disturbed by trade rumors, lingering bad blood between him and coach Larry Brown, and threats to his family's safety, Iverson spent the summer mostly in his hometown of Hampton, Va. His absconding and Brown's apparent zeal to deal made Iverson's summer harder to follow than the NASDAQ.
June 28: Brown selects 5'11" Hofstra guard Craig (Speedy) Claxton with the 20th pick of the draft, saying, "You need people when the shot clock's running down [who] can make a play or get somebody else a shot, and we really don't have anybody that does that."
July 7: Amid speculation that Brown might bolt to coach North Carolina, and upset about rumors of a trade to the Clippers, Iverson says it would be "extremely hard" for him to play under Brown next season.
July 11: Retired Leola, Pa., high school math teacher Jay Charles is charged with transmitting threatening communications over state lines for sending an E-mail to a Philadelphia radio host in which Charles threatened to dismember Iverson's five-year-old daughter. Charles would later plead guilty.
July 13: Brown tells reporters, "I wonder what your relationship would be with any employee...if he doesn't choose to come to work on time, doesn't choose to come to work at all, doesn't choose to do the things everybody else in the organization does and then says he's upset with the way he's being treated." That day a voluntary workout for Sixers veterans begins. Nine players show. Iverson doesn't.
July 28: The Lakers reportedly reject a four-team trade that would send Iverson to Detroit and land Philly L.A.'s Glen Rice, free agent Eddie Jones and the Pistons' Jerome Williams.
The trading season began in earnest on Aug. 1. Iverson and Brown remain on the same team and, Iverson now insists, on the same page. During an hour-and-a-half conversation with Croce earlier this month, Iverson indicated that turning 25 in June had changed his outlook. He understands, says Croce, the need to be, in Iverson's words, more "professional" and said he wanted to be a team captain. Iverson uttered the same thoughts to King.