ISTANBUL (AP) — Former NBA star Allen Iverson arrived in Istanbul on Monday to begin a stint with Turkish club Besiktas, promising to give fans “something they haven’t seen before.”
Dozens of fans greeted the 11-time All-Star at Ataturk Airport. Sporting a Besiktas jersey and a Philadelphia Phillies hat, Iverson waved at fans from inside his car before being driven to his hotel.
Iverson, who agreed to a $4 million, two-year contract with Besiktas, is the Turkish league’s biggest signing. He has called his move to the Istanbul club “a chance to get back on track with my basketball career” after no NBA team was willing to offer him a contract this season.
Many see his stint in Turkey as a test of his ability to revive his NBA career because teams are likely to monitor Iverson’s performance and behavior at Besiktas. The guard has said he still believes he can play in the NBA and hopes his performance in Europe will lead to another chance next season.
His career has been troubled by numerous run-ins with coaches and team officials. He’s also had several legal problems that landed him on probation.
Iverson is expected to make his debut with Besiktas on Nov. 13 when the team plays Oyak Renault at its home arena that seats about 4,500 fans. The club hasn’t won the Turkish league since 1975.
“They were great,” Iverson told NTV sports channel of the cheering Besiktas fans who welcomed him at the airport, adding that “the most important thing is to be accepted, to be wanted and to be appreciated.”
Iverson urged fans to come out and support the team. The player also said he would be “interacting” with the fans as much as possible.
“Before I leave, I’ll be speaking a lot of Turkish,” he said.
Iverson is 17th on the NBA’s career scoring list with 24,368 points, winning the Most Valuable Player award in 2001 when he led the Philadelphia 76ers to the finals. He spent 10 seasons in Philadelphia before moving to Denver and Detroit, ending up in Memphis last season.
He only played three games before returning for a second stint with the Sixers, where he averaged 13.9 points in 25 games. He took a leave of absence toward the end of the season to deal with some family matters.
Iverson was initially due in Istanbul on Saturday, but his arrival was delayed by two days, and a pre-match celebration of his signing at the arena was postponed. Besiktas said a light and music show to welcome Iverson will take place on Tuesday.
Iverson joins American guard Mire Chatman and Australian center A.J. Ogilvy on the Besiktas squad. The rest of the team is made up of players from Turkey, Russia and other Eastern European nations.
Susan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.