Monday , Mar , 15 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Iverson misses fourth straight game

Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – Philadelphia 76ers All-Star guard Allen
Iverson missed his fourth straight game although he said he was ready to play
prior to Sunday’s 85-69 loss to Detroit.

Iverson, who has been plagued with right knee synovitis, participated in the
team’s shootaround before the game, but was in street clothes by the opening
tip.

Sixers interim head coach Chris Ford claimed he was not aware of Iverson’s
readiness to return until a few minutes before tipoff and relegated his
leading scorer to the bench, citing a possible lack of conditioning.

“I wasn’t comfortable putting him out there in the starting lineup,” said
Ford. “I was concerned that if he would go out there and try to play, that we
could now lose him for another five games down the road.”

With that option in hand, Iverson changed his mind and sat out the contest
against his former head coach Larry Brown, refusing to come off the bench.

“I’m a starter, I’ve been a starter here for eight years,” Iverson said. “I’m
not a sixth man. I know in this league, and it has been with us, the Sixers,
if someone comes back from an injury, if he’s a starter, he starts. What’s the
difference? If you’re going to cut my time down, cut my time down. It doesn’t
make any difference. I’m a starter.

“I told him I’d rather get the conditioning at practice and come off and play
my usual role, as a starter,” Iverson added.

The Sixers had won the last three games without Iverson, who has been plagued
by numerous injuries this season, but fell to 8-14 without him overall this
season.

In 45 games this season, Iverson is averaging 27.0 points, 6.8 assists and 3.8
rebounds per contest.

“I feel real disappointed because I told the trainers I was going to play. You
know, I was already taped and everything and had my uniform on. I had to take
it back off, so that was rough. It’s just something I’ve never been through in
my life.”

Iverson and Ford have endured a tenuous relationship in the coach’s short
tenure since he took over for Randy Ayers in February.

Ford benched Iverson in the first game after All-Star Weekend when his star
guard did not make in back in time from Los Angeles for the team’s first
practice. Iverson scored 27 points off the bench in that one.

PHI