Tonight’s match against Memphis at the Siegel Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA might provide the most packed crowd I’ve ever seen for an NBA preseason game.
Sure, the excitement of Gilbert Arenas’ comeback tour and the new-look Wizards are probably enough to fill the 7,500 seat arena … I mean, pictures of the Wizards are literally on the side of the building (see below).
But the main draw might be Allen Iverson, the prodigal son returning to his home state of Virginia (as a Memphis Grizzly of all things). Iverson grew up in Hampton, VA, about 80 miles away from Richmond.
I kind of heard a secondhand joke about Iverson this weekend, stating that he hasn’t been in Richmond since … [insert item from troubled past]
- … since he must have been thanking then VA Governor Doug Wilder profusely for giving him clemency and detention instead of jail time due to charges related to a 1993 bowling alley brawl (which was in Hampton, but Richmond is the state capital).
- … since 1997 when Iverson was arrested and spent the night in a Richmond jail. Police found weed and a gun in his car after pulling it over for going 90 mph in a 65; Iverson was a passenger, not a driver.
- … since 2006 when Iverson bought his mom an ABA franchise that was supposed to be called the Richmond Warriors. The team became the Ballerz before playing briefly in 06-07. They then moved to the Hampton Roads/Norfolk area, but haven’t really been heard from since.
I doubt anyone will be asking A.I. if he remembers the last time he was in Richmond tonight.
Regardless for whom the fans will be cheering the most, it’s going to be hype when the lights come on. I’ll be checking back in before heading down to Richmond.
[UPDATE: And of course, via Michael Lee's Twitter, Iverson will miss tonight's game with a strained left hammy -- sorry VA.]