Last weekend Allen Iverson was scheduled to start in his 11th NBA All Star game, but the Philadelphia 76er was notably absent from the festivities. Instead, Allen was at home in Atlanta, tending to his seriously ill daughter Messiah, 4.
“I have five kids,” Allen, 34, pointed out after practice in Philadelphia on Monday. “None of them have ever been this sick. It’s a first-time thing for me.”
Adding to his anxiety is the fact that doctors aren’t totally sure about what ails Messiah. She has been in and out of a hospital in Atlanta and will now travel to Philadelphia to undergo treatment at Children’s Hospital.
“If they find out its pneumonia, which they hope it’s not, they’re going to have to admit her again,” Allen reveals. “All I do is just pray on it … ’cause that’s all that can be done right now, ’cause they don’t know exactly what’s wrong with her.”
“I like to look at myself as a strong person, especially dealing with everything in my life. But this is a totally different situation; you find out you’re not as tough as you thought you were when it’s one of your kids.”
Doctors have assured Allen that they’ll “get to the bottom of” Messiah’s symptoms, assurances that have given the point guard peace of mind — to a point. “You look at them eye to eye and you can tell they truly believe that,” he says. “You kind of feel comfortable about it.”
Enough so that Allen has agreed to rejoin his team, after missing five games to be with Messiah. Noting that he has “a commitment and an obligation to be with” the 76ers, Allen says he’s hoping his return to the court will help him stay focused at home.
“I think this is the only thing I do in life where it’s for a couple hours during a game [that] I don’t think about [anything] but that,” he muses. “I think, in some type of way, that will help me deal with my [family] situation a little better.” He adds,
“The strongest man in the world … I don’t think they could deal with it if something happened to one of their kids. I just love my kids.”
In addition to Messiah, Allen and wife Tawanna are parents to Tiaura, 14, Allen II, 11, Isaiah, 6, and Dream, 16 months.
Iverson returned to practice Monday for the first time since Feb. 2. Iverson was voted an Eastern Conference All-Starter, but skipped Sunday’s game to spend additional time with his family. He says doctors are still not sure what is ailing his 4-year-old daughter, Messiah.
“It was tough to leave her and my wife and kids,” Iverson said. “But I do have a commitment and an obligation to be with my team and to do my job. But it is rough. I think this is the only thing I do in life where for a couple hours during the game I don’t think about nothing but (basketball).”
Coach Eddie Jordan says he has not decided if Iverson will start against the Heat.
Iverson said it was tough to miss the All-Star game, won by the East in front of a record 108,713 at Cowboys Stadium.
“In my heart, I wanted to be there,” he said. “I wanted my daughter and my kids to see me be there. I wanted my wife to have the opportunity to see something like that. I just think the bigger responsibility was to be with my daughter at that time.”
Iverson had been in Atlanta with his family. He refused to disclose his daughter’s illness, but said she will soon be treated at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.
“I can tell she’s getting better. Once we got home, she did a lot of running around, but physical things, with her hands and her feet, I can tell something’s wrong,” Iverson said. “She’s energetic and everything.”
Iverson’s status remained intact as of last night’s Sixers game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, even though he missed his fourth game in succession while attending to his ill daughter. The 76ers announced that Iverson also will miss tonight’s game in Toronto, the team’s final game before the All-Star break, but that he will return Feb. 16 against the Miami Heat in the Wachovia Center.
This will be Iverson’s 11th straight All-Star appearance, and the first by a Sixer since 2006.
“Our understanding is, he will still be an All-Star,” league spokesman Tim Frank said last night in an e-mail.
A source familiar with the Sixers’ situation said Iverson intends to make his All-Star appearance.
Earlier in the week, Sixers coach Eddie Jordan would not address whether Iverson would remain a starter when he rejoins the team; Iverson is averaging 14.7 points, 4.2 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 22 games since signing Dec. 2 as an unrestricted free agent.
“He’s been great, in the locker room, on the court,” teammate Elton Brand said. “Whatever the big bosses decide, I’m sure he’s going to go with it and come back and help us win games.”
Iverson has missed the Philadelphia 76ers’ last three games to be with his 3-year-old daughter in Atlanta, and the team doesn’t have a timetable for his return. Philadelphia plays Minnesota on Tuesday and at Toronto on Wednesday before the All-Star break.
“The situation with his daughter is very serious, very delicate,” the source told Yahoo! Sports. “But he still hopes to play in the All-Star Game regardless to whether he plays in the two games before it.”
Our prayers go out to Allen’s daughter and hopefully we’ll be able to see Allen this weekend.
“We just hope that his family and his daughter gets better,” Jordan added.
Streaking. Entering last night’s game, the Sixers had won three games in a row for the first time this season.
“It’s a huge deal,” Williams said of the streak. “. . . Three in a row is a huge deal for us.” To get there, the Sixers defeated the New Jersey Nets, Chicago Bulls, and New Orleans Hornets.
Rumors. For much of the season, the Sixers and Rockets have been linked in a trade scenario involving the Sixers’ Andre Iguodala and Houston forward Tracy McGrady.
On the season, McGrady, whose $23 million expiring contract is the bait, has played a total of 46 minutes.
Could there be a possibility that McGrady joins Iverson on the Sixers?