It has been four years since Samuel Dalembert played for the Phialdelphia 76ers. After nine seasons with the same organization, he has since suited up for the Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks and, currently, the New York Knicks. Even though he has donned numerous uniforms, he is still frequently associated with his first team.
“Another home again,” he said. “Everybody says (it seems like I was just with the 76ers) because I spent almost 10 years in Philly.”
The 76ers drafted Dalembert in 2001 and traded him to the Kings in the summer of 2010. During that time in Philadelphia, Dalembert developed a rapport with Allen Iverson on the court. The dunks became seamless – the crafty point guard to the anticipating big man.
Ten years later, Dalembert recalled how their dunking dynamic began during his third season.
“It was a very interesting thing to play with him (Iverson),” Dalembert told Basketball Insiders. “At first, he was more like a penetrator. Then he’d get bumped or banged up. One time I was just like, ‘When you’re penetrating like that and my big is coming to you, I know you want to go to the free throw line but man, you’re going to kill yourself. The moment you see my guy coming, just throw it anywhere on the rim. I’ll go get it.’ He said, ‘Really? You’re going to go get it?’ I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.'”
The two began working on alley-oops in practice. The 6’0 Iverson instructed Dalembert, 6’11, to watch his feet. As soon as he saw Iverson take off, he should get ready for a lob.
“My eyes were right there watching him every time,” said Dalembert.
The 76ers traded Iverson to the Denver Nuggets in 2006. He re-signed with the team in late 2009 and spread the word about Dalembert in his return.
“When he came back a second time, he was telling the guys, ‘This guy, you don’t have to worry about it. Just throw it anywhere on the rim,'” Dalembert recalled.
Years later Dalembert, now a 13-year veteran, finds himself in a different stage in his career. His offensive game has transitioned from playing down low and getting high above the rim to improving his seven-foot jumper and helping spread the floor. After joining the Knicks in a trade this summer with the Mavericks, he has shifted his focus to fit the system of his new NBA team.
“I’m not necessarily a scorer, but in this offense anybody can be open,” Dalembert said. “It’s so versatile as a big. That’s why it’s really good that we work on our shooting because when we get the opportunities or wide open shots, we’ve got to be able to make them at a high percentage.”
Throughout his career, two objectives have remained the same from team to team: play solid defense and win a championship.
Said Dalembert, “(I want to) keep getting better, play hard and give yourself the opportunity to win so when you look back and you’re done, you’re not going to be like, ‘Wow, I didn’t give it my all.'”
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