Say It Ainít So, Allen

NEW YORK, Dec. 10, 2006-- It appears that the City of Brotherly Love will no longer have the Answer to the question: Who wears No. 3 for the Sixers?

Allen Iverson demanded a trade on Tuesday, and on Friday Sixers Chairman Ed Snider said that Iverson had "probably" played his last game in Philadelphia.

Growing up as a Philly fan, I lived for A.I.'s achievements. I tuned in to see him go for his fifth straight 40-point game as a rook ... And I watched in bemused horror when he talked about "practice."

I had my eyes on him when he emphatically stepped over Ty Lue after nailing a corner jumper late in Game 1 of the 2001 Finals in L.A. ... And I saw him sulk on the bench with a towel over his head when Larry Brown benched him.

Good or bad, he always made me watch and when he was on the court, I always thought the 76ers had a chance to win. "We're down 12 with four minutes to go? Don't worry, A.I. will get hot."

Tell me what you remember about Iverson's career in the ill.

And now, these are the 10 things I learned from last week ...

1. Melo finally has some scoring help

The fact that Denver has made the playoffs the last three seasons in the tougher-than-teflon Western Conference is amazing when you consider that they basically had Carmelo Anthony, interior defense, and that's about it. Melo would routinely face double and triple teams because the Nuggets had no perimeter help. There was nobody he could swing the ball to and have them balance out the defense.

That changed when J.R. Smith arrived. Smith, in his third season out of St. Benedict's Prep (high school) in N.J., saw his scoring and minutes per game decrease between his first and second seasons under Byron Scott.

This offseason, he was shipped to Chicago along with P.J. Brown for Tyson Chandler. Chicago sent him packing six days later where Denver gladly shelled out Howard Eisley and two future second rounders for Smith.

Now, protege to Melo's mentor, Smith has scored in double figures in 15 out of Denver's 18 games, punctuated by 36 in a win over Chicago (added movitation?), 31 in a W over the Warriors and a career-high 37 (including 7-of-9 from deep) in a victory over the Heat.

2. 318-pointer

I should have gone to the game. I left the office on Thursday and instead of taking 3-W towards Continental Airlines Arena, I took 3-E towards the Lincoln Tunnel. I settled for watching the 161-157 Suns over Nets instant classic at home and enjoyed three hours of hoops-watching heaven. I couldn't help but feel slightly remorseful, however, as I sat at my desk bugging colleague John Schuhmann (who was at the game) with e-mails reading, "This game is soooo sick," and, "Damn it, I wish I came to this." Nash's numbers were epic (a career-high 42 points and 11 dimes) and Kidd's historic (38, 14 and 14 giving him his 78th career triple-double to tie Wilt Chamberlain). It was a perfect game that mixed last-second shots (Nash at the end of regulation), stars at the top of their games (Marion had 33 and Vince had 31 as well), and historical significance. Oh, and a whole bunch of scoring.

3. Dunk correction

I may have spoken too soon a couple weeks ago when I annointed Monta Ellis' dunk on the Suns as the best throw down of the year. I apologize, Ronnie Price. The Kings' second-year, pipe-cleaner thin guard out of Utah Valley State posterized Carlos Boozer. We're talking left-handed, body still rising when he collides with Boozer, leap started from outside the lane, and a little leg action that -- like the Chappelle Show skit claims -- looks 10 times cooler in slow-motion. We have a new dunk of the year. (I hope if I keep passing the dunk crown out too early that guys will keep freaking the rim in even more insane ways and prove me wrong, thus giving me more entertainment, thus making us all winners).

4. Amare watch

He has scored 20-plus in seven out of his last 12 games (he also grabbed 10-plus rebounds in nine games during that stretch) and his 64 percent field goal shooting is 17th in the league (and third among players with 100 or more shot attempts). Stoudemire is averaging 15.8 points and 8.0 boards in less than 30 minutes a game. Oh, and the Suns have won nine in a row. Those are all the facts. If that is not "back," then I don't know what is.

5. Can you name what number Steve Nash wears?

Did you get it? Did '13' pop into your head immediately? Maybe it's just me, but I simply don't associate a number with Nash. KB8 became KB24, LeBron and 23 go together like MJ and 23 did, and I can't think of Dirk without thinking '41.' I just found this strange. I have watched Nash play roughly 100 games over the last three seasons and I found myself peering at the TV this week wondering what number he wears. Want to know another guy who falls in this category? Dwight Howard. The Magic's franchise big wears No. 12, digits traditionally given to a guard.

6. Hooray for Nellie

They made him wait for it. But, after more than 2,000 games in the business, how was four more games going to faze Don Nelson? The Warriors coach garnered win number 1,200 of his illustrious career on Saturday with a 101-80 win over the Hornets. Nellie had been stuck on 1,199 as Golden State fell upon a four-game losing streak that put the milestone (temporarily) on the shelf. Nelson joins Lenny Wilkens as the only other member of the 1,200 win club.

"It just means that I've been around a long time,'' he said. "Look and see who is one of the top guys who's lost games and I'm right there, too. I've been fortunate to be able to do this a long time.''

7. Blocks not meant to be broken

I gave credit to Joel Przybilla and Emeka Okafor for their penchant for swatting shots this season, but some attention should shine on Jermaine O'Neal, who is leading the league with 3.0 blocks a night. Thus far, O'Neal has had five-swat nights against the Blazers, Hornets, Celtics and Knicks and incredible eight rejections vs. the Bucks. He is on pace to finish with about 240 blocks which is basically half of the all-time record for blocks in a season set by Mark Eaton with 456. Eaton averaged a mind-boggling 5.56 swats a night in 1984-85, his record setting year. So while J.O. is to be feared in the lane, he can't compare to M.E.

8. Shaq, where are you?

Miami is being affected by paternity leave of a different sort. Shaquille O'Neal, "The Daddy," has been sidelined since Nov. 12 when he tore knee cartilage against the Rockets. It doesn't seem likely he'll return to the lineup until at least Dec. 23. Meanwhile the Heat have looked like the Luke Warm. Miami is 8-11 and while Dwyane Wade is putting up career highs in points (27.5) and assists (8.2), he is also logging 40 minutes a night and fatigue might be somewhat to blame for his field goal percentage dipping to .456 from .495 a season ago. The Heat need Shaq. Wade needs Shaq. Basketball fans need Shaq. Here's hoping The Daddy gives us all an early Christmas present and suits up against the Warriors on the 23rd.

9. Look at Hakim Warrick's last 10 games

Pau Gasol returned to practice this week and while Memphis is just 5-15 without him this year, his injury might work out for the best in the long run for the Grizzlies. Remember when David Robinson got injured for a year and that put the Spurs in position to nab Tim Duncan in the lottery? Well, the benefit Memphis has already received from Gasol's absence has been Hakim Warrick's development. Warrick has become the Grizz' go-to guy as he has poured in double figures in eight out of the last 10 games including a career-high 31 points to go with 13 boards in a loss to the Bucks on Friday. In the interest of full disclosure, Hak is a friend of mine as we spent four years at Syracuse together, but I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't point out that his averages have jumped from 4.1 points and 2.1 rebounds last season to 16.1 and 6.1 this year.

10. It's Eddy, not Eddie

The Knicks' starting center is doing his best to make New York fans to think about him rather than Whoopi Goldberg when they hear his first name. Eddy Curry has scored 20-plus points in the last nine games, including a career-high 36 on Saturday with a win over the Bucks. He has also opened my eyes to All-Star consideration after I was ready to hand the East's starting center spot over to Dwight Howard uncontested a couple weeks ago. I watched his pre-game routine at the Garden on Monday and it was impressive. Catch. Drop step. Soft hook. Make. Over and over and over again on Knicks' assistant Herb Williams. It's working for Curry, (who just turned 24 on Tuesday), as his 17.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game are giving New York the foundation it needs to build towards future success.

Have a question or comment for The McTen or care to share what you learned this week? Get at me.