Want some advice on how to be a No. 1 overall draft pick in Philadelphia?
Allen Iverson knows everything one would need to know.
And Thursday afternoon at the 76ers draft party, in the shadow of the Art Museum in the city that made him a star, AI had a few tips for Ben Simmons on draft night.
“You better give everything you got, play every game like it’s your last and they will love you,” Iverson said of succeeding in Philly in front of a rabid fan base.”These are the greatest fans ever and they want you to give maximum effort and that’s it.”
Iverson recalled the day his name was called by then Commissioner David Stern, and a Hall of Fame career began.
“I remember being nervous,” The Answer recalled.”Knowing I wanted to be a Sixer, I knew I was going to get picked first but I was alsonot knowing. I’ve seen stranger things happen in my life. Once they called my name I knew how it would feel for the rest of the guys who didn’t get called yet. I felt bad for those guys because I knew they had to go through what I had to go through.”
Iverson spouted, with love and conviction one of his catch phrases. “Play every game like it’s your last and you’ll be fine,” Iverson said.
It’s a sentiment echoed by another former 76ers’ favorite, World B. Free.
“This is a hard working town,” Free said. “The people will love you if you come and dedicate yourself to the game of basketball. Don’t come in here with rabbit ears, listening to everything. If you don’t do that kind of stuff around here you will last a long time here in Philadelphia. You are as good as your last jump shot.”
Simmons comes into the NBA with few doubts about his ability, but many doubts about whether his personality, ego or work ethic are compatible with being a true NBA superstar.
Former Sixers forward Clarence Weatherspoonknows that hard work, in Philadelphia, is a mantra for success.
“Come in with an open mind and come in with an attitude that you aregoing to work,” Weatherspoon said, “a great attitude and a work attitude because that is the Philly tradition. You have to work and show you’re excited about being here and I think everything will work out for him.”
Iverson couldn’t agree more, though he understands if Simmons feels a bit intimidated. Sure, Simmons and LeBronJames are close friends, but that doesn’t mean playing in the shadow of a franchise of legends doesn’t come with big shoes to fill.
“I did an interview today and I was just saying, ‘Wilt Chamberlain played here, Bobby Jones, Andrew Toney, MoCheeks, [Julius Erving], all these great players and someone has to come in and try their best to fill those shoes when those are some big shoes to fill,” Iverson said. “It won’t be anything different for Ben Simmons’ approach. You have some big shoes to fill and we are all going to cheer you on and hope and pray you succeed.”
Good advice Simmons. If you need any more, Iverson said he’ll always take your call.