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Long an Admirer, Butler Appreciates Bond With Iverson

A handful of circumstances made Jimmy Butler an ideal match for the 76ers.

First and foremost, he wanted to be on a team that wanted him, and the Sixers most definitely fit that description.

In addition to that, Butler’s skill set synced with several of the Sixers’ pertinent needs – he’s a legit isolation threat; sound 3-point shooter; and tenacious, enthusiastic defender.

Then, throw in the fact that the 29-year old is a huge Allen Iverson fan? Well, there really isn’t much more you need to say.

Iverson was back at The Center Monday, taking in the Sixers’ win over Phoenix. He was in the building for last Friday’s match-up with Utah, too.

On both nights, with one of his hoops heroes looking on from a courtside seat in the baseline corner, Butler turned in impactful performances, particularly in crunch time. In each contest, he threw down dunks that helped the Sixers get across the finish line.

Following Monday’s 119-114 victory, the Buckets Man and the Answer shared a lengthy, heartfelt, brotherly embrace.

The good vibes carried over into the Sixers’ locker room, where Butler and Iverson did a jersey exchange. Iverson stuck around for a bit, and chatted it up with a bunch of players, Butler included.

“He’s one of the greatest players to have ever played the game,” said Butler, whose relationship with Iverson goes back a while.

Growing up in the 1990s, Butler, of course, is of perfect vintage to have followed Iverson in his prime. He has long admired Iverson’s heart, passion, emotion, and killer instinct.

Last February, during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, the two spent some extended time together. Butler said Iverson told him he “loves” how Butler plays, and the type of person he is.

“Look at how everything unfolds,” said Butler, referring to being traded to the franchise with which Iverson has an iconic association. “I’m here in Philly, and he is one of the GOATs, so it’s a good thing.”

All of the brain-picking Butler’s done with Iverson over the years, and the feedback the 2016 Hall of Famer has provided in return, it’s added up.

“For him to tell me he thinks I’m a really good player goes a long way,” Butler said. “I did it the long way. I had to go to Junior College and all that stuff. He saw a lot in me since Day One, I guess.”

Given the mutual connection they now share with the Sixers, Butler and Iverson will probably be seeing a lot more of each other.



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