Allen Iverson returning to the 76ers has long been nothing but a fantasy for many Philly fans who yearn for the good ol' days, when The Answer led their team and kept it interesting in the City of Brotherly Love.
But now there is serious discussion surrounding the possibility of Iverson returning to the Sixers, right as the team is within a game of the third round of the NBA Playoffs.
The whole conversation was kicked off by Allen Iverson's return to the Sixers' arena Wednesday night, when he whipped the home crowd into a frenzy before Philly trounced the Boston Celtics 82-75, forcing a Game 7 between the two rivals for the first time since 1982.
The spectacle of Iverson emerging once again from the tunnel, clad in red-white-and-blue 76ers garb and beaming wide and full, to deliver the game ball and remind all who watched of the days when The Answer was king of Philadelphia.
And it appears that Iverson himself is not immune to that feeling that something was back in its proper place when Allen trotted out onto the court. It was the first time he had been on the court since returning to the team for 25 games during the 2009-2010 season and taking an indefinite break to tend to his 4-year-old daughter's health issues on Feb. 26, 2010. He hasn't played since, but he says he's not ready to go into retirement:
I'm not using that word. I wanna play basketball so bad, Allen Iverson told an ESPN reporter during an in-game interview Wednesday evening.
And Philly fans and the sports world seem to be solidly backing The Answer, as hundreds of Tweets have gone out in support of the guard, and in hopes of seeing him in a Sixers jersey once more sometime soon.
NBA fan Joseph Teegardin summed up his sentiments on the topic -- and those of many other fans -- with this to-the-point Tweet: If Jerry Stackhouse, Tracy McGrady, and Juwan Howard can still play @NBA level ball - Allen Iverson can, too. #bringAIback.
Even Stephen A. Smith himself is in the Iverson camp, and he said Thursday that If Allen Iverson can still play he deserves a chance.
But the question that remains is whether Iverson can still play pro basketball at the highest level.
And it appears that he's probably still got what it takes. The Sixers won't be able to let him suit up for Game 7, but if his numbers during his 25 games in the 2009-2010 season are any indication, he's still a good player.
During that time, Iverson still averaged 13.9 points per game (the second-lowest of his career, but still respectable), and though he only shot 41.7 percent from the field, he hit 33.3 percent of his threes, which is an above-average mark for him.
But injuries have always plagued Iverson, and his season was cut short in 2008-2009 due to back troubles, which may or may not be entirely behind him. And family and life have a way of moving in to fill the gap left behind when giving up something you love, as do lack of practice and dwindling attention.
So though Iverson wants to be back on the court, and everyone else wants to see him there, it's difficult to say whether he should return to basketball. Only Allen himself can truly know what he's got left to offer.