It looks as if the bell for Round 2 has rung in the duel between 76ers interim head coach Chris Ford and superstar guard Allen Iverson.
Iverson did not show up for last night's game between the Sixers and the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Wachovia Center. The Sixers said he had gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines, although he wouldn't have played because of a bruised right shoulder.
But Ford said that Iverson did not call him personally, as he has required, and that he was "very disappointed" Iverson did not follow the rules.
"There will be something levied for that," Ford said after the Sixers' 81-74 victory over the Timberwolves.
"There are rules in our handbook that was handed down at the beginning of the season, not my rules but the organizational rules. There are guidelines that are handed down."
Early in the questioning about Iverson, Ford said someone did speak to one of the team's medical personnel over the telephone, but later he said he did not know whether it was Iverson who called.
Iverson first incurred Ford's displeasure on Feb. 16, when he missed the team's first practice after the all-star break in Denver. Ford fined Iverson an undisclosed amount and benched him for the start of the next night's game against the Nuggets.
After the game, Iverson strongly disagreed with the penalty, complaining that their relationship was "out the window" from the first day.
Iverson bruised his shoulder on Feb. 19 against Seattle, played the next night against the Los Angeles Lakers, and has missed four games since.
Ford did not want the latest controversy about Iverson to overshadow the performance of his players against the Timberwolves.
"Hey, I understand [the questions], but the the guys in there gave me everything they had," Ford said.
Challenge. The Eastern Conference remains the land of opportunity for its poor and downtrodden teams, but the Sixers continually lack the manpower to capitalize.
Last night, however, they gained ground on the seventh- and eighth-place teams in the East, both of which lost yesterday afternoon.
They stand 11/2 games behind seventh-seeded Toronto, which fell to Boston yesterday. They are one game behind No. 8 Miami, which lost to Milwaukee.
Derrick Coleman, who suffered a broken right hand in a Jan. 23 game against Orlando, had the cast removed last week and was shooting two hours before the game. Marc Jackson, who has a stress reaction in his left foot, also was on the court.
The doctor is in. Dr. Jack Ramsay, the former St. Joseph's basketball coach, is proud of the Hawks' success as they attempt to wrap up an undefeated regular season tomorrow night.
"It's wonderful," said Ramsay, in town for the ESPN radio broadcast of last night's game. "To have an undefeated season at any level is a huge accomplishment."
Eric Snow said it best after Larry Brown left when he stated that if there are problems between AI and the coach we all know who is to blame.
The time has come to trade AI and start rebuilding the Sixers. He is going to start missing more and more games every year as his body breaks down from the abuse. 20+ pt. 2 guards are a dime a dozen in the NBA and he is no different.
It's not like AI being in slight decline and missing games to injury is an anomality...guys who drive to the basket 10 times per game and get pounded on tend to fade fast in the NBA once the beating takes its toll. It happened to Isiah, it happened to Tim Hardaway, it happened to Kevin Johnson and it's happening to Iverson now.
He wasn't gonna play anyway! It's not as if he was scheduled to start the game and didn't show up and the Sixers had to make a quick fix. He was already out with a shoulder injury. So what's the big deal, asshole?
It's not exactly as if Ford and Iverson were a couple of lovebirds to begin with. But it seems to me as if Ford's just itching for a fight. Yeah, I know the process is sometimes more important than the result. But Ford doesn't seem to realize that without Iverson, the Sixers basically consist of eleven guys from the Kiwanis Club. Iverson's the franchise, and he's the only reason the Sixers have won more than 11 games this year.
Yeah, he shoots too much, and he's inconsistent, and he's a dick. But he's also the only thing holding the team even remotely together (such as it is), and Ford seems likely to fine him for breathing without written permission.
(edited by ekedolphin on 4.3.04 1519) “You wanna mock people, or you wanna let me talk to Toby?” “I wanna mock people.” --Leo McGarry and Josh Lyman, The West Wing
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If the Sixers were smart they would look to send him out to Boston where they have an unhappy superstar. Ainge is looking for fast break, athletic scorers... Philly is looking for a superstar who shows up for practice.
AI for Pierce... biggest block buster since, Smush Parker for Mark Blount!