Brown, Iverson Agree To Disagree, But They Hope They Can Do It Quietly ``it's No Big Thing,'' Said The Star Guard After A Long Conversation With His Coach.

Posted: April 06, 1999

Allen Iverson, the NBA's leading scorer, and 76ers coach Larry Brown met yesterday for the first time since Friday night's contretemps. They talked. They reached an understanding. There are no problems.

Or so they would like you to think.

Truth is, the star guard and the Sixers' head of basketball operations agreed to the obvious in a discussion of 20 to 30 minutes after a two-hour practice at St. Joseph's University: to try to respect one another's wishes, and to try to keep any animus between them as quiet as possible.

Translation: They want to keep their business out of the newspapers.

``We don't have any problems,'' said Iverson, who, with a bruised right thigh muscle, is questionable for tonight's game against Milwaukee and former teammate Tim Thomas.

``It's no big thing,'' said Iverson, who shot yesterday but did not participate in practice. ``It's just something that's blown all out of proportion. If y'all think that Larry Brown and myself are not going to have any altercations, I mean, that's crazy. That's ridiculous.''

Said Brown: ``Every time I've taken Allen out [of a game] since I've been here, I've had the same response. And I understand. He just wants to play. He doesn't understand how it affects maybe his teammates or me.

``I don't think it's going to change.''

They have been together for one full season and for half of this shortened one. Iverson fusses when he's taken out of games; Brown fumes at Iverson's sometimes abrasive way of displaying his feelings.

Hence, a marriage made in . . . Philadelphia.

On Friday night against Cleveland, Iverson was benched for the first 2 minutes, 3 seconds of the second quarter. He was upset at Brown for sitting him for so long; with the bruise, he'd rather keep his thigh warm by playing. He voiced his displeasure. Brown didn't like the way he expressed it and sat him down until halftime.

Iverson nearly left the First Union Center at the half. He returned to the court only after Rick Mahorn and Iverson's bodyguard, Terry Royster, persuaded him to stay. Iverson didn't play in the second half.

After the game, Brown said he would have played Iverson in the second half if the guard hadn't said he was hurt. He threw Royster out of the Sixers' locker room, saying:

``He didn't belong in there. Family members of the Sixers aren't allowed in the dressing room, so why should he be?''

Player and coach simmered down over the next 24 hours.

The Sixers dropped their seventh game over the last nine in a 97-82 blowout loss to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, fading further from the eighth and final playoff position. Iverson, who stayed in Philadelphia for treatment of his injury, was asked whether he'd been bothered by not joining the team in Toronto.

``I don't think words can describe . . . how difficult it was for me,'' Iverson said of missing the game. ``Especially with us trying to make it to the playoffs, playing well the first month. Then with the end of last month having to deal with this, what better time to put together some type of winning streak than now? It's rough.

``Not just seeing us lose, but seeing my team play without me. That's just something I don't look forward to.''

He probably won't have to much longer. Although he's questionable for tonight's game, Iverson isn't beyond making himself available at the last minute. He also said that ``I should've sat out earlier, in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, because I hurt my team by not doing so.''

At the moment, 18 games remain in the regular season. A playoff berth is at stake. And Iverson knows he's the meal ticket.

``That's my concern right now,'' he said.

That's why a public show of understanding is a must, for both coach and player.

Notes. Guard Doug Overton signed a second 10-day contract yesterday.

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