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Told he wasn't starting, Iverson refuses to play

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."