- (Photo: Reuters/Tim Shaffer)
Allen Iverson made an emotional return to the NBA on Wednesday night in Philadelphia, where he spent close to 12 years of his professional basketball career.
Iverson, former guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, teared up as the crowd in the team's Wells Fargo Center roared as he delivered the game ball to referee Joey Crawford before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the Boston Celtics and 76ers.
The 36-year-old guard who left the league in 2010 to tend to the illness of his daughter spoke to ESPN's Lisa Salters about being overwhelmed by the crowd's response to him at the stadium.
"I really don't have words that can really describe it, but it was the best. I love these fans and, obviously, they show me a lot of love," Iverson said. "I was basically trying to hurry up and get off the court. My legs started wobbling and I was getting ready to tear up. Once my eyes got teary and my lips started shaking, I knew it was time to go."
Iverson is an 11-time All-Star who also garnered an MVP honor in 2001. However, he decided to join the Turkish Basketball League in 2010 before ending his stint to undergo calf surgery last year. Still, fans of the well-known guard were evident in the Philadelphia arena where many people were seen wearing Iverson jerseys amid "M-V-P" chants.
Iverson said he was happy with the response, after giving the team many of his professional basketball years.
"Just the appreciation they have for me and for what I've done in this league," Iverson said. "I gave it my all and I think that's why they love me, because I played every game like it was my last."
Fans of the basketball star took to Twitter to express excitement about his return to the court.
"It was so good to see the big homie Allen Iverson bring the game ball out," one fan tweeted. "Come back AI!"
However, others recognized that he may not be in the league because of highly publicized discord with the staff of his former NBA teams.
"Poor Allen Iverson," another person tweeted. "Shows what a bad attitude can do."
Although the NBA star admitted he may not return to the league, he also said he was not ready to give up on basketball.
"I'm not using that word [retired]. I want to play basketball so bad," he said. "The way it is right now, I've accepted the fact that [the NBA] may not happen, but I still want to play basketball."