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Thursday, December 3, 2009
Michael Heisley on "divorcing" Allen Iverson

By Henry Abbott

The owner of the Grizzlies, Michael Heisley, tells Chip Crain of 3 Shades of Blue his version of how Allen Iverson came to have just a three-game stay in a Memphis Grizzlies uniform.

Heisley says he was surprised by Iverson's complaints about playing time. He says Iverson had come into training camp not in very good shape, and then injured his hamstring. The team then played him slightly more than the trainers recommended -- nevertheless Iverson was upset. Heisley explains:

The trainer said I don't want him playing in the first two or three games but when he starts to play we should play him about 15 minutes. We're going to watch him very closely and bring him along slowly otherwise he's going to injure this leg again. So that's the directions Lionel got. He played him 18 minutes in the first game when we told him 15 minutes. Which was fine and Allen did well. He scored 11 points in 18 minutes I think.

So in the 2nd game, if I remember correctly, he played 25 minutes and he scored like 17 points. Now he went to the press and started bitching about not being the starter. I think he was being a little ridiculous to think he could be put out there after he's coming off that leg injury and be the starter and that he had earned it like he said he wanted to do.

Lionel then had a meeting with him and the team; with all of the stuff that was going on around the team and Allen was very upset. I was in the Middle East when this took place and I flew for 29 hours and when I got home I heard there was a problem and I flew out to the West Coast. I met with Lionel and I met with Allen and I thought things were going to be straightened out.

Allen came to me that night and said he had a problem at home that he had to take care of, which I believed to be true and I still do believe, and I told him to take as much time as he needed to take care of his personal problem and so he left.

Heisley then says that when he heard Iverson wanted to retire, he decided to "divorce" (or, release) him, so that Iverson could pursue other NBA opportunities because "I want Allen to play in this league."