Dion Waiters: South Philly raised him, NBA made him

Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers
Dion Waiters grew up idolizing Allen Iverson and playing on the courts in South Philly.

 

It seems as if every story you read nowadays about Allen Iverson, is one that only adds to his tragic decline. He’s a bad father, he’s a bad husband, he’s broke.

It’s hard to remember the greatness of the man who was once beloved and idolized in the city of Philadelphia. That’s until you talk with someone who got his inspiration from Iverson, a player like Cleveland guard and South Philly native, Dion Waiters.

“AI [Allen Iverson] was my favorite player growing up,” said Waiters. “I tried to model every aspect of my game after him. I wore the headband, the sleeve, the little finger bands — I wanted to be just like AI.”

Waiters’ playing days began on the courts of Chew Playground near 19th and Washington in Point Breeze and Marian Anderson Park near 18th and Catharine. When he wasn’t out shooting hoops, he was glued to the TV watching “The Answer” and the Sixers.

“I used to watch every game, especially during that 2001 finals run,” said Waiters. “My whole family would fill the house and sit by the TV to watch. You would’ve thought every game was the championship. Anytime AI was on … my mom, my dad and everyone who was around would all be watching.”

Waiters, the No. 4 pick in last year’s NBA draft, had a stellar rookie season, averaging 14.7 points, 3.0 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. His 14.7 points per game ranked second among rookies. He’s been working out this summer at Temple University’s new practice facility with Immaculata assistant coach Chuck Ellis.

“I’ve been working on my handle, my ball handling, my post-up game, my mid-range game, staying consistent with my jump shot and really just everything,” said Waiters. “Chuck’s helping me with taking my game to that next level.”

At 21, Waiters still has a lot of room to grow into the NBA star he wants to be. In terms of being an adult, he took a big step on the day before Father’s Day when his first child was born.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better Father’s Day,” he said. “This is the best present I could’ve asked for. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”

 

Props to Temple

Waiters said Temple’s new practice facility is state of the art and should help draw in recruits.

“It’s really nice. It’s a great facility,” he said. “They have great coaches and they’ve showed me nothing but love. I get the gym almost anytime that I need it. The people there are great and I think what they’re doing around the community and how much success they’ve had should definitely draw in a lot of Philly kids and just a lot of recruits in general. They’re going in the right direction.”

Waiters also trains with Temple’s Khalif Wyatt. He explained Wyatt’s chances on making an NBA roster:

“I think he deserves to be in the NBA,” Waiters said. “He’s definitely worked for it. I think his numbers show his production, he’s a winner and I think he will get a chance as long as he continues to work hard.”


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