PHILADELPHIA -- Maurice Cheeks had just finished calling Allen Iverson the ultimate gamer, somene who always played hard and always gave his full effort for his teammates and fans.
That was before the Sixers coach was informed by a reporter about 55 minutes before Tuesday night's tipoff against New Jersey that Philadelphia's franchise player was not yet at the arena, and neither was Chris Webber.
So Cheeks left for the locker room, saw for himself the jerseys hanging in the locker, and returned to tell reporters the two were "not going to play tonight," against New Jersey.
The 76ers will fine Iverson and Webber for not being at the arena 90 minutes before the game against the Nets, and their top-two leading scorers did not show up in the locker room until the game tipped off.
"They should be here, they're not here and it will be addressed," team president Billy King said.
King said he knew at Tuesday morning's shootaround that Iverson and Webber would be given the home finale off because of injuries. But King did expect the duo to be at the game. Iverson was to miss the game with an ankle injury, and Webber had a sore back.
"I'd like them to be here, hell yeah," an agitated King said on the court about 45 minutes before tip. "They're not and I'm going to take care of it."
With reporters staked out awaiting the duo's arrival, King walked by the horde minutes before tip and let loose with a profanity-laced rant when pressed again about their absence.
"Our team is not good right now, I know that," King said, his voice rising with every word.
When asked what King should say to the fans who bought tickets thinking they might see Iverson's last game as a Sixer, he walked off.
The Sixers were eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoff race Sunday. They are scheduled to close the season in Charlotte on Wednesday. Cheeks said the pair might not make the trip.
"If they're not playing tonight, they're probably not playing tomorrow," Cheeks said.
Cheeks never said Iverson or Webber was not going to play for the 20 minutes he talked to reporters before he was told they had not arrived at the Wachovia Center. He looked dejected when he returned and slumped in his seat, looking much like he did 11 days ago when he remained at the postgame press conference podium, ice bottle on his head, with the lights turned out.
When asked if he was disappointed in the duo, Cheeks said, "I'm done, man."