Allen Iverson got the new team he wanted, and the Denver Nuggets got the new superstar they suddenly needed.
The four-time scoring champion was traded Tuesday by the Philadelphia 76ers to the Nuggets for Andre Miller, former Maury High star Joe Smith and two 2007 first-round picks.
The Nuggets also get Ivan McFarlin.
The deal came just as NBA scoring leader Carmelo Anthony began serving a 15-game suspension for his part in a weekend brawl between the Nuggets and New York Knicks.
Iverson, a former Bethel High star, now takes his 31.2-point scoring average to Denver and ends 10 turbulent seasons with the franchise that made him the No. 1 overall pick in 1996.
"Our personality is going to change. It's going to be different. That will take some time," Nuggets coach George Karl said.
"All trades shake your team a little bit," he said. "I hope that they realize that we're doing this to be better, we're doing this to be special, we're doing this to contend."
A seven-time All-Star, Iverson transformed the 76ers from lottery losers to contenders, though he couldn't bring home an NBA title to this championship-starved city. He came close in 2001, when the 76ers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals. Since then the team has fallen from the elite, missing the playoffs twice in the last three seasons.
This year has hardly been an improvement, with the 76ers on an 11-game losing streak. Only Memphis (5-19) has a worse record than the 76ers (5-18), who are winless since Nov. 24.
"We haven't won a championship, and I think we were a long way from winning a championship, even with Allen," 76ers chairman Ed Snider said. "It was time for us to take a deep breath and say we've got to move in a different direction. Allen wanted to move in a different direction."
Now the 31-year-old Iverson's chase for a coveted championship moves to the Western Conference.
Sixers team president Billy King thanked Iverson for his 11 years in Philadelphia, saying, "I think he's one of the greatest ever to play the game."
Iverson is due the rest of his $18 million this season, and a combined $40 million through the 2008-09 season.
His relationship with the only team he's ever played for was irrevocably broke once he asked for a trade two weeks ago. He had just been fined for missing a team function and his relationship with coach Maurice Cheeks had deteriorated to where the point guard didn't want to play for him anymore.
The 76ers sent Iverson home for good after holding him out of a morning shootaround and, at the time, Snider said the All-Star guard "probably" played his last game in Philly. Iverson's nameplate was removed, his locker was cleaned out, and his dazzling highlights were edited out of a pregame video package.
No matter the drama in Iverson's life, it rarely affected his performance on the court. Even this season, with Iverson unhappy and the 76ers stuck in last place, he still is second in the league in scoring (behind Anthony) and averaged 42.7 minutes and 2.2 steals.
Iverson is averaging 28.1 points, 6.1 assists and 2.3 steals in 697 career games. He scored a career-high 60 points against Orlando on Feb. 12, 2005.
But as dynamic as Iverson has been, and as thrilling as it can be to watch the 6-foot tattooed bundle of energy play, only once did he lead the Sixers out of the second round of the playoffs. And Philadelphia was only a modest 355-342 (.509 winning percentage) with Iverson in the lineup for regular- season games.
At his best, he has been the ultimate gamer, a hustling, hard-charging MVP who became one of the most popular players in the league. His No. 3 jersey was always one of the top sellers.
Only Minnesota's Kevin Garnett has been with one team longer than Iverson among active players.
But as much as Iverson thrilled 76ers fans with what he did on the court, he gave the team nearly as many headaches for what he did off it.
With his rants about practice, his run-ins with former coach Larry Brown, his arrests and failed rap career, Iverson was often a magnet for trouble.
Iverson and Brown were a volatile combination during the six seasons they spent together in Philly. Brown criticized Iverson for taking too many shots and accused him of being selfish at times.
Iverson often arrived late for practice or missed practices for various reasons. In one infamous blowup at the end of the 2002 season he repeated the word "practice" nearly 20 times during a rambling monologue. He now pokes fun at the memorable meltdown.
Brown and Iverson eventually reconciled and the coach made his former guard co-captain of the 2004 Olympic men's basketball team.
While some have predicted his all-out style means he'll wear out sooner rather than later, Iverson still ricochets around the court like a pinball. He had 15 40-plus point games in 2005-06, including his 10th- career 50-point game.
Though Iverson's name was often part of trade rumors, the guard out of Georgetown, nicknamed "The Answer," used to say he wanted to end his career in Philadelphia.
Iverson's years in Philadelphia were marred by arrests in 1997 for carrying a concealed weapon and for possession of marijuana and in 2002 over a domestic dispute with his wife. He was sentenced to community service in 1997 and all charges were dropped against him five years later.
Then there was the never-released rap album, which drew criticism from civil rights groups and got Iverson a reprimand from NBA commissioner David Stern because of its offensive lyrics.
"Don't get me wrong, there's some bad stories out there," Karl acknowledged. "As I told 'Melo when I got here, there's some stories about me out there, too. There's a lot of positives.
"One thing I hear on a consistent basis, his teammates love him. I think we need better chemistry on my basketball team. I think we need more leadership. I think we need more emotional maturity, I think we need some mental toughness, some intensity, an every game, every possession mentality," he said. "I think everything I said there, Allen Iverson has."
While Iverson's maybe a half-step slower than he was 10 years ago, that's still a step quicker than most players in the league. He still was too quick to guard 1-on-1 and beat teams with the same killer crossover he once used in his rookie season that dusted Michael Jordan. *
ALLEN IVERSON'S CAREER STATS
Year, Team G FG FT Reb Ast Pts
1996-97 Phi 76 .416 .702 4.1 7.5 23.5
1997-98 Phi 80 .461 .729 3.7 6.2 22.0
1998-99 Phi 48 .412 .751 4.9 4.6 26.8
1999-00 Phi 70 .421 .713 3.8 4.7 28.4
2000-01 Phi 71 .421 .814 3.8 4.6 31.1
2001-02 Phi 60 .398 .812 4.5 5.5 31.4
2002-03 Phi 82 .414 .774 4.2 5.5 27.6
2003-04 Phi 48 .387 .745 3.7 6.8 26.4
2004-05 Phi 75 .424 .835 4.0 7.9 30.7
2005-06 Phi 72 .447 .814 3.2 7.4 33.0
2006-07 Phi 15 .413 .885 2.7 7.3 31.2
Totals 697 .421 .778 3.9 6.1 28.1
Year, Team G FG FT Reb Ast Pts
1998-99 Phi 8 .411 .712 4.1 4.9 28.5
1999-00 Phi 10 .384 .739 4.0 4.5 26.2
2000-01 Phi 22 .389 .774 4.7 6.1 32.9
2001-02 Phi 5 .381 .610 3.6 4.2 30.0
2002-03 Phi 12 .416 .737 4.3 7.4 31.7
2004-05 Phi 5 .468 .897 2.2 10.0 31.2
Totals 62 .418 .769 4.2 6.1 30.6Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times