A.I. rips Sixers in first meeting with old team

Updated: January 2, 2007, 11:35 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Allen Iverson didn't wait for tip-off to start taking shots against his former team.

Allen Iverson
Iverson

Iverson leveled a new round of criticism at the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, hours before he faced them for the first time since his blockbuster trade to Denver two weeks ago.

Iverson said he felt a player of his stature and tenure should have been listened to when he criticized the Sixers' style of play last month, a condemnation that led to his departure from Philadelphia after 10 tumultuous seasons.

"Just to hear me out. I think any coach would, and any organization would," Iverson said. "… When you're losing basketball games, 12 of 14, 18 of 20 basketball games, you should listen to somebody because something obviously isn't working."

Iverson struggled early against his old team but picked up the pace to finish with 30 points. Philly hung on for a 108-97 win, though. Iverson was ejected with 1:44 left after picking up his second technical of the game.

Before the game, Iverson had plenty of advice for his old team. He said that he didn't think moving Sixers' swingman Andre Iguodala to point guard was very wise.

"I thought Andre's playing the point guard position wasn't the right move for us and that team that we had. They wanted to do that and I didn't feel like that was helping us win. We were losing basketball games," Iverson said. "Andre Miller is a better fit at point guard for that team. He was put directly into that position. They felt I couldn't get that job done there. But I'm pretty sure I can get it done here."

Iverson said he wouldn't greet Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks before or after the game at the Pepsi Center, either.

"I don't feel like I have a need to. It is something that I don't want to do. For what?" Iverson said. "I don't have no beef with him. I don't feel it is necessary for me to go out of my way to speak to anybody. The trade is done. But things still linger.

"I still feel bitter about the way things happen. It didn't have to happen like that and I think I deserve a lot more respect than what I got. Those people had the chance to give me the respect I deserved and they weren't willing to do that. So why I should I try to give any respect back?"

Iverson said he hadn't spoken with Cheeks since he was traded to the Nuggets for Miller, Joe Smith and two 2007 first-round picks. The Nuggets also got Ivan McFarlin, who was waived.

"I haven't anything to say to Mo," Iverson said. "Or to my teammates. I miss them. I never had any problem with any of those guys. None of them on the whole roster. … I never expected Billy [King, the Sixers' team president] to let it happen the way it happened. I never expected Mo to let it happen.

"I would have expected for him to fight for me. He has a job to do and he works for somebody else. I lost a lot of respect for guys that I had respect for around there. It is a feeling that I have and it can't just go away overnight."

Conversely, Iverson said he is getting along great with Nuggets coach George Karl.

"I just haven't had any problems," Iverson said. "I haven't won basketball games like I expected to and like I want to, but I think we are getting better as a team. That's all you can ask for is playing better."

Iverson averaged 28.6 points and 8.8 assists in his first five games for Denver, but the Nuggets lost three of those games with a patchwork lineup minus suspended players Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith.

Karl said he's gotten along great with Iverson.

"Allen Iverson is something that should be celebrated," Karl said. "A.I. has been great. I know we are in the honeymoon stage that everybody talks about. I've never had problems with any player that plays hard. And A.I. plays hard."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press