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Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Differences in communication at issue

Associated Press

DENVER -- Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson was benched for the start of Tuesday night's game against the Denver Nuggets after missing practice a day earlier, coach Chris Ford said.

Iverson, the 76ers' only representative in Sunday's All-Star game in Los Angeles, failed to appear for Monday's practice at the Denver Athletic Club.

Iverson had contacted Allen Lumpkin, the team's director of travel and team services, to tell him he wouldn't be able to make it to practice. Ford was upset that Iverson didn't contact him personally.

Ford, chosen as interim head coach of the 76ers last Tuesday, called the two-hour practice an important one, during which he put in several new plays.

Ford declined to say if Iverson would be fined.

"He won't be starting," Ford said. "He had an unexcused absence from practice. We will determine his playing time as the game unfolds."

Ford, who said Iverson had no reaction to his benching, said John Salmons would take Iverson's spot in the starting lineup.

Iverson, dressed in a George Gervin jersey before the game, joked with his teammates in the locker room but declined to speak with the media.

Iverson has a history of disdain for attending practice. He and former Sixers coach Larry Brown had several battles over the issue, leading to a memorable news conference in May 2002 when Iverson said, "Practice? We're talking about practice."