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Sunday, March 14, 2004
Updated: March 15, 1:21 PM ET
Told he wasn't starting, Iverson refuses to play

Associated Press

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Allen Iverson said he was ready to play in Sunday's 85-69 loss to the Detroit Pistons but changed his mind after 76ers coach Chris Ford told him he'd come off the bench.

"I'm a starter. I've been a starter here for eight years. I'm not a sixth man," Iverson said after the game. "I'm a starter. I know in this league ... 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."

Iverson has been hampered by a swollen right knee, which caused him to miss three straight games before Sunday. The league's second-leading scorer participated in the shootaround before the game but was on the Sixers' bench in street clothes at tip-off.

After the game, he said he "was already taped and everything and had my uniform on. I had to take it back off, so that was rough."

"I feel real disappointed because I told the trainers I was going to play," Iverson said. "He (Ford) said I hadn't run up and down the court, and he wasn't sure about my conditioning."

Ford and Iverson have had a rocky relationship since the coach replaced the fired Randy Ayers on Feb. 9.

"I didn't know he was going to attempt to play until how much time was left on the (pre-game) clock? Not much," Ford said. "From my understanding and what I was told yesterday after his workout, I'm going to look out for A.I. and the team. Somebody's got to make decisions around here."