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Magic Host Short-Handed Sixers
Posted Dec 9 2006 1:56PM
NBA.com Daily Confidential
The post-Allen Iverson era for the Philadelphia 76ers got off to a rough start, and there doesn't appear to be much relief in sight for the slumping club.
The short-handed Sixers (5-13) await a decision about Iverson's future Saturday while they play the Orlando Magic on the road trying to end a six-game losing streak.
Prior to Friday's 113-98 loss to the Washington Wizards, the 76ers announced that Iverson had been sent home and ruled out for the next two games. Team president Billy King said it had to do with a back spasm problem, which kept Iverson from practice Friday morning and caused him to leave Wednesday's game early.
Iverson countered by releasing a statement through his agent before the game, saying that he told the team he was healthy enough to play. He said he joined the team in a huddle after practice and then was told by coach Maurice Cheeks not to come to the game.
``In my entire career, even the doctors haven't been able to tell me not to play,'' Iverson said. ``I've played through injury and illness. I think everyone knows how much I love being out on the court, competing and winning. That's why it was so disheartening to be told that I couldn't play, knowing that I was ready. It hurt even more to be told not to come at all.''
While King would not say whether Iverson requested a trade, Sixers chairman Ed Snider confirmed that he had, and said if the seven-time All-Star wanted out of Philadelphia, the team would comply.
``We'll trade him,'' he said, adding that Iverson had ``probably'' played his last game with the team. ``At a certain point, you have to come to grips with the fact that it's not working. He wants out and we're ready to accommodate him.''
Snider continued, saying that he ``didn't see it coming because Allen says all the right things.''
King said the team would re-evaluate the situation after Saturday's game, but it appears clear that after 11 years in Philadelphia, Iverson is out.
His departure from the team leaves a huge offensive hole for the Sixers to fill. Iverson leads the league with 31.7 points per game, more than double the team's second-leading scorer.
Even with Iverson, however, the team has struggled, losing 13 of its last 15 games. Iverson said that he's been giving 100 percent, but conceded that it hasn't been enough.
``As hard as it is to admit, a change may be the best thing for everyone,'' Iverson said. ``I hate admitting that because I love the guys on the team and the city of Philadelphia. I truly wanted to retire a 76er.''
Iverson was the No. 1 pick in the 1996 draft, but his repeated confrontations with team management have led to a strained relationship the last few years and was the constant subject of trade rumors last season.
``We're going to go out and put effort on the floor no matter who's out there,'' Cheeks said. ``I'll concentrate on whatever guys we have in the locker room, it doesn't matter who it is.''
The Magic (15-6) lost to the Detroit Pistons on Friday 87-83. Orlando made four costly fourth-quarter turnovers, allowing the game to slip away late for its second straight loss.
``I just think that we didn't make shots that we should have made,'' Howard said. ``We had a couple turnovers that gave them the game. I don't like losing, period, but we've got a game tomorrow.''
The Magic haven't lost three straight since a six-game losing streak from Feb. 26-March 6.
This is the second meeting between the teams this season. Iverson had 39 points, scored the winning basket and had 10 assists as Philadelphia won 105-103 at Orlando on Nov. 3.
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