Iverson's former coach reaching out

Updated: November 28, 2009, 10:18 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Larry Brown has a message for Allen Iverson: Don't give up.

Iverson's former coach said Friday that he believes the 10-time All-Star "still has a passion to play" and shouldn't retire. An online report this week indicated Iverson had decided to end his career after receiving little interest from NBA teams.

Brown, who coached Iverson in Philadelphia when the guard was voted league MVP in 2001 while leading the 76ers to the NBA Finals, said he's been trying to get in touch with him.

"Anybody that knows him understands how much he loves to play," said Brown, now coaching the Charlotte Bobcats.

Commentator Stephen A. Smith published a statement on his Web site Wednesday that was attributed to Iverson, who said in it that he planned to retire.

It comes after the Memphis Grizzlies waived Iverson on Nov. 17 amid a dispute over Iverson's role with the team. There was also friction between Iverson and the Detroit Pistons last year because he didn't want to come off the bench.

The 76ers have been struggling at the gate and have a fresh void at guard after losing Lou Williams for an estimated eight weeks with a broken jaw. But sources with knowledge of the 76ers' thinking told ESPN.com on Friday that the Sixers do not intend to pursue Iverson, preferring instead to give more minutes to rookie guard Jrue Holiday.

The New York Knicks had briefly discussed signing the 6-foot Iverson, but decided against it. Brown said he wouldn't be a good fit in Charlotte because of the team's abundance of guards.

Brown believes Iverson is "a little embarrassed," and the retirement talk may come from frustration.

"Think about it: You're an MVP in the All-Star Game and an MVP in the league, scored over 20,000 points," Brown said. "You still know you can play, and to not have everybody jump up, it's a pretty humbling thing. But he can play."

Brown says Iverson could get opportunities later in the season. He pointed to Jan. 10, the date contracts are no longer guaranteed for the season, and the trade deadline a month later when several teams may reshape their rosters.

"Some teams might think they aren't as good as they thought," Brown said.

Brown has maintained a close relationship with Iverson despite their famous disputes in Philadelphia, including Iverson's "We're talking about practice!" rant after the 76ers' exit from the 2002 playoffs.

Information from ESPN.com's Marc Stein and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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