Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NBA [Print without images]

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Updated: April 3, 12:09 AM ET
Iverson struggles with bench role

Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Looking into the future, Detroit Pistons guard Allen Iverson would rather retire than be a full-time reserve.

Allen Iverson
Iverson

Iverson returned to action this past weekend after missing 16 games with a back injury, and coach Michael Curry has used him off the bench the last three games.

Iverson complained about his minutes on Tuesday after playing 18 against Cleveland. He admitted that he does not like the new role after playing 17 in a 111-98 loss to the Nets on Wednesday.

"I'm in a position now that I've never been in my whole life," Iverson said. "It's harder than I thought it would be. With the back injury, I have to sit out at the start, then go in, then sit again. It's tough to really get going. I take my hat off to the guys who can come off the bench and be effective. It's tough for me. I'm struggling with it."

Iverson, who was acquired from Denver for Chauncey Billups in an early season trade, said he would not accept being a reserve next season.

"I'd rather retire before I do this again," Iverson said. "I can't be effective playing this way. I'm not used to it. It's tough for me both mentally and physically. If I'm able to go out there, I should be able to get it done and I can't right now. It's my fault. I have to be able to overcome the adversity and do what I have to do. I just have to find a way to get it done. Not being 100 percent makes it harder and you can see that I'm not 100 percent."

Iverson sat on the Pistons bench with his jersey off and his shin wrapped in ice early in the second half. The 33-year-old didn't put his jersey back on until he went into the game late in the third quarter.

The 12-year veteran would not talk about his playing time Wednesday after scoring four points on 1 of 8 shooting.

"I'm not going to get into that, because I know I'm not going to win that battle," he said. "No way am I going to use my health as an excuse. I don't make excuses like that. You can see that I'm not 100 percent, but if I'm out there, then that's enough for me."

Iverson has averaged 17.4 points in 54 games with the Pistons.