Cool To Be A Sixers Fan Again
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March 8, 2008 -- During Allen Iverson’s last four seasons in Philadelphia, friends and family members used to blow up my phone like a telemarketer working on commission with requests for tickets.

Since Iverson got shipped out of town, I haven’t been able to give Sixers’ tickets away.

Until now.

Uncle Pookie and cousin Ray-Ray, along with a bunch of acquaintances I hadn’t heard from in a minute, have been reaching out to me lately. All of the Sixers fans who had abandoned ship prior to this season are asking what they have to do to get their seats on the bandwagon back.

The Sixers, who were picked to finish last in the East by some prognosticators, would be the seventh seed if the playoffs started today.

Led by Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller, Philly has won 11 of its past 14 games to move within four games of .500 with a record of 29-33.

Iguodala is the face of the franchise. He is averaging 19.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. The fourth-year forward burst on the scene when in this writer’s humble opinion he was robbed by the judges at the 2006 Slam Dunk Contest (Has Nate Robinson made his dunk yet?).

As his statistics show, Iguodala, who is better suited to be a second option than a first, is more than just a high flyer. He is an above-average defender, uses his athleticism to run the floor and finish the break and rebounds well for his position.

If you are a nightly viewer of the NBA TV Top 10 Countdown, you have repeatedly seen Iggy on the receiving end of perfectly thrown lob passes.

More times than not, those let-me-help-you passes came off the hands of Miller, who came to Philadelphia in the Iverson trade.

Miller, who has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week twice in the past month, does an excellent job of setting up his teammates for easy buckets (6.7 assists per game), while freeing himself up for his own scoring opportunities (16.8 points per game).

The play of Iguodala and Miller has helped the Sixers stay respectable while rebuilding. In the past year the team has waived standout Chris Webber, traded sharpshooter Kyle Korver, replaced general manager Billy King with Ed Stefanski and given head coach Maurice Cheeks a contract extension.

Time to respond to some of your e-mails.



Mike in Florida: Nothing against the Wizards’ Antawn Jamison, but how can you add him to the rankings over the Magic’s Hedo Turkoglu?

Brooks: Turkoglu is enjoying a career season as the second fiddle behind Dwight Howard in Orlando. Jamison outranks him because not only is he putting up big-time stats, he has saved the Wizards in the absence of Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas.



Goran in Croatia: Hi, Maurice. I'm a first-time writer who reads every R2MVP. Now to the point. We witnessed yet another act of genius by the Spurs. They traded for Kurt Thomas, giving Tim Duncan the best center since he parted ways with David Robinson,. Thomas is one of the best low-post defenders in the league. Do you think it is too late for Duncan to win the MVP award.

Brooks: Moves like trading for Thomas and acquiring Damon Stoudamire are the perfect examples of why the Spurs are the closest thing we have to a dynasty in the NBA. Besides being an above-average defender, Thomas hits the boards hard and adds size to the San Antonio frontcourt. Duncan is on the outside looking in as far as serious contenders in the MVP race, but I'm sure he'd much rather get another championship ring.



David in Washington: When you update your Rookie Rankings, make sure you move up Luis Scola. He has been stepping up for the Rockets.

Brooks: Hey, I think you meant to send this message to our rookie writer, Dave McMenamin. Despite the loss of Yao Ming for the season, the Rockets (18 wins in a row) are the hottest team in the Association and Scola (9.2 points, 5.6 rebounds), along with Al Horford and Kevin Durant, is on the short list of ROY contenders.



Ruben in Texas: I said last week that the Spurs should be ranked higher! I also said that I would give you two weeks to see you drop the Lakers from No. 1. I was wrong, It only took you one week.

Brooks: Are you related to David in Washington? I don't write the Power Rankings either. Anyway, despite the fact that the Spurs had their winning streak snapped Friday, I still feel they are the best team in the league. I know the West is stacked and the Pistons and Celtics rule the East, but all things considered (backcourt play, overall depth, coaching, legendary forward), I believe San Antonio is going to repeat as champs.



Mike in D.C.: Hey Mo, I just wanted to get something out there that is really bothering me right now. I live in D.C. so my favorite team is the Wiz, but Amare is my favorite player so I also have love for the Suns. Do you agree with me that the Shaq-Marion trade was an awful trade by an inexperienced first-year general manager?

Brooks: The numbers speak for themselves. The Suns are 3-6 with Shaquille O'Neal in the lineup. Shawn Marion was a perfect match for the Suns fast-breaking style because he is one of the best finishers in the game. He is capable of defending multiple positions and was a good fit because he does all of the dirty work and never needs a play called for him. While early returns haven't been good, Shaq was brought to Phoenix to help them in the postseason. So assuming the Suns make it to the dance, we can judge the deal at that point.



Brenda in Illinois: Wow! I didn't expect to see my e-mails, in all their fury, glaring back at me. My point, and what set me off in the first place, is that you stated Deron Williams is not even in the same class as Chris Paul. That statement is indicative either of your extreme bias or of your woeful ignorance. Just be fair ...

Brooks: Although I didn't count, I estimate I got over 150 Brenda-related responses. Let's leave it at this: CP3 is great. D-Will is great. Paul has been consistently brilliant all season, while Williams had a brief hiccup early in the year before he resumed playing at an All-Star level and the Jazz regained the form that makes them championship contenders.



Matt in Washington: How come you got Tracy McGrady so low in the rankings? This guy has picked up the slack for Yao "my foot hurts" Ming.

Brooks: Read this.



Fizzle Dizzle in Minnesota: How come you never mention A Jefferson?

Brooks: I don't know what this has to do with R2MVP, but if you want me to name a Jefferson I will. Here, chose one: George, Louise or Thomas. If you were referring to Al, his team is playing too poorly to get props in this column, although his 21.3 points and 11.7 rebounds are impressive. Plus, my buddy Rick Kamla already said Jefferson is Hall of Fame-bound.



Robert in California: Hello Mo, I always read your MVP standings and the mailbox responses. It always interests me to see what you will respond to the questions people send you. Do you think the Lakers will play worse or better when Andrew Bynum returns?

Brooks: I don't think Bynum is returning from his knee injury until the playoffs start. That is not good news for Lakers' fans because it is going to take a few games for him to get back into the flow and for the guys to readjust to playing with him again. The postseason is not the right time to be working on chemistry.



Ralph in Asia: Why did Sam Cassell decide to go to the Celtics?

Brooks: I don't know what you do for a living, but I hope you are not a teacher. With questions like this, you would have a class full of straight-A students. Would you rather play for the last-place Clippers, or the first-place Celtics? Would you like to have the chance to win another title or start your summer vacation in mid-April? I think the answer to your queston is pretty self explanatory.



Abdi in Los Angeles: I used to write to you almost weekly, but I gave up after a while and stopped reading your R2MVP because it made me mad. Now I can start reading your articles again because we see eye to eye.

Brooks: I'm glad to have you back, but I have a question for you. If you weren't following the column any more, how did you know when I started writing something to your liking again?



Matt in California: Just out of curiosity, how is Pau Gasol not in your top 20?

Brooks: The 16 games Gasol has played in Los Angeles don't cancel out the 39 games he played in Memphis this season. While he has the Lakers thinking championship, he had the Grizzlies headed toward the Draft Lottery.



Lynjs in North Carolina: What I can't understand is why in the world the "big name" player get all of the accolades instead of the guy that doesn't whine half the time for money or attention? Enough already. It is time to reward hardwork and perseverance and show young men who aspire to be in the NBA that it doesn't take scoring 56 points each night to be MVP. From where I stand, the little things are what matters.

Brooks: You were a bench warmer who had your contributions overlooked on your high school team, weren't you?



Jess in Canada: How can you have Steve Nash ranked No. 9 and please don't say the only reason I'm writing this is because I'm Canadian. Nash balls better than everyone ahead of him on your list.
P.S. - I hate loving your column.
P.P.S. - If you get me tickets for the Sonics vs. Suns game, I will be your No. 1 fan.
P.P.P.S. - Since you are so nice (this is supposed to make you feel good deep down in your heart), can you get me Nash's autograph?

Brooks: Nash is still the best passer in the game, but this year he is not a serious MVP contender. If he truly makes everyone around him better, I expect to see Shaquille O'Neal's numbers to go up. And FYI, I don't take bribes.



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