Allen Iverson can stay retired now.
For the last month or so, as the Philadelphia 76ers’ losing streak rolled past 20, Iverson didn’t look like a bad option for the team’s front office. No matter that his No. 3 jersey hangs high in the rafters at the Wells Fargo Center. Somebody could climb up there, yank his jersey down, and Iverson could slip it on and step back onto the floor once more.
The answer is yes. They did win again, and they won without Iverson in a 76er uniform. They stopped their record-tying losing streak Saturday at 26 with a 123-98 win over the Detroit Pistons.
The significance of the victory was that it kept Philadelphia from leapfrogging the Cleveland Cavaliers for the longest losing streak in NBA history.
In setting the record in 2011, the Cavaliers had an excuse at least. They put that losing streak together the year after LeBron James, the best player on the planet, took his high-maintenance behind to Miami for the sun, the glam and the allure of playing with two other NBA stars.
What excuse these 76ers had wasn’t certain. They were chugging along at 15-31 back when they looked as if they could win games. The team was showcasing a star-in-waiting in guard Michael Carter-Williams, and it had a big man in Nerlens Noel, whose promise, whenever he's ready to play, seemed bright.
Promise and performance didn’t necessarily meet in the same place, though, and 76ers fans were discovering that fact through the agony of endless defeats. They had to know the 2013-14 season would be difficult, but they could not possibly have known it would be as difficult as this.
With 16 wins now, these Sixers were never going to go down as the worst team in NBA history. Nor were they going to go down as the worst Sixers team. Both distinctions stay with the 1972-73 Philly team; it set the NBA standard for horrid play with its 9-73 record.
That fact can’t bring 76ers fans much solace. They have seen glorious years since the 1972-73 season, including the year when Julius Erving brought the city a NBA title in 1983.
Like any sports franchise, even such storied ones as the New York Yankees, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers, the 76ers have had bumpy stretches, but they and their faithful have seen nothing as bumpy as this since the 1970s.
Who in Philadelphia dared to believe the 76ers would have a losing streak of 26 games? Before the Pistons game, the odds of stopping the streak almost mirrored those of a perfect NCAA bracket. What were those odds again … 9.2 quintillion-to-1?
The 76ers have now recorded another win, ensuring they will not stand alone atop this bit of NBA infamy. They will share the No. 26 with the Cavaliers.
To ask anybody to feel pity for the 76ers is to ask too much. Besides, pity won’t fill the roster with better talent, and the lack of the latter is what led the 76ers to tying the record.
That’s also the answer to any questions about how—or why—any NBA team lost so many games in a row: A team wins with talent.
So where is another Allen Iverson when these Sixers need him?
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
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