Allen Iverson signed a six-year, $70.9-million contract extension with the 76ers on Tuesday that gave him much more than a raise.
Flashing a smile to team president Pat Croce, the enigmatic 23-year-old took on the pressure of becoming one of the top young stars in the NBA's post-Jordan era.
"I want to win the most championships," Iverson said. "And I want to be the best player."
Iverson will get the maximum for a player entering his third season in the league, Croce said. He will get $9-million next season with annual raises of $1.1-million that add up to $14.6-million in the final year of the contract.
"I didn't want to wait until the end of the year and then decide whether to play for a contender," Iverson said. "I never wanted to take the easy way out. I've been here through the bad times, I want to be here through the good."
It is the largest contract guaranteed by the Sixers, hurtling Iverson past the likes of Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlain and Charles Barkley.
"There were no snags on our part," Croce said. "I know Allen, and I know he's a winner. I know he's a good guy. That smile can break you down like his crossover (dribble)."
Agent David Falk said Iverson wanted to stay in Philadelphia all along, but he got a final push from his mother and former Georgetown coach John Thompson to stay with the Sixers.
"They took their best player and they didn't get into the game of a negotiation," Falk said. "Allen reciprocated and said, "Thanks. I want to be here, and enough's enough.' "
Iverson's chance to strike it super-rich with a $100-million contract _ like those signed by Kevin Garnett, Antonio McDyess and Shawn Kemp _ was wiped out by the lockout. According to the new collective bargaining agreement, a player with up to six years' experience can receive as much as 25 percent of his team's salary cap, beginning at a maximum of $9-million.
His 1998-99 salary of $3.5-million is prorated for a 50-game schedule, reducing it to $2.2-million _ a loss of more than $1.3-million due to the lockout.
"I just wanted to make enough money to take care of my family," Iverson said. "The money that's out there for me right now is enough for me to do so."
Two weeks ago, Mercedes-Benz Credit Corp. sued Iverson for more than $28,500 in unpaid lease payments on three late-model cars. The suit also asks for the return of the cars and for the total buyout amount, about $300,000, on the 24-month lease vehicles.
"I didn't know until the article came out," Iverson said. "It was something that my accountant was supposed to handle."
Several fans hurt rushing into SkyDome
TORONTO _ Several people were hurt as thousands of fans _ taking advantage of free admission _ tried to enter through a single gate at SkyDome for the Raptors' preseason game with the Boston Celtics.
The surge of fans created a mini-stampede that left dozens of women and children in tears as well as four smashed doors and some broken turnstiles. No serious injuries were reported.
"I was just trying to get in and my head was pushed up against the door and it just shattered," said Daniel Segon, 16, of Toronto. "It was too rough for me."
Segon suffered several deep cuts in his right hand while protecting his head during the melee. Ambulance attendants called to the entrance of the upper deck wrapped his hand in gauze and examined several others.
"They just started pushing from behind when the doors opened," said Jim Roe, director of event operations for Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment. "We were overwhelmed and off-guard."
Toronto police said they made no arrests. There was no immediate estimate of the amount of damage.
Ron Mercer scored 25 points, including Boston's first 11, as the Celtics beat the Raptors 106-88.
Magic re-signs Wilkins to 3-year deal
ORLANDO _ Veteran guard/forward Gerald Wilkins re-signed a contract worth about $7-million over three years, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Wilkins, 35, averaged 5.3 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists as a reserve last season.
The team also signed free-agent guard Doug Overton, who spent the past two seasons with the 76ers. Overton played in 23 games last season before tendinitis in his left ankle in December and subsequent bilateral ankle surgery in February cut short his 1997-98 season.
CLIPPERS Michael Olowokandi, the overall No. 1 pick who played in Italy during the lockout, is expected to join the team Thursday. "He's been delayed by paperwork," Clippers spokesman Joe Safety said. The 7-foot-1 center was released from his contract with Kinder Bologna of the Italian League on Monday.
HORNETS: The team signed Chuck Person, waived by the Chicago Bulls after they acquired him in a trade four days earlier. The 12-year veteran has a career average of 15.7 points. He spent the past four seasons with San Antonio . . . Free-agent center Gheorghe Muresan, who missed all of last season with the Washington Wizards with a foot injury, took a physical with the team. The Hornets are looking for a center, having lost Vlade Divac (Sacramento Kings) and Matt Geiger (Philadelphia 76ers) to free agency.
GRIZZLIES: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, the team's top scorer last season, reached agreement on a contract extension. The Canadian Press reported it is for six years and $71-million. The team called a news conference for today to make the official announcement.