Rose: Fans shouldn't roll out red carpet

Posted: April 18, 2001

INDIANAPOLIS — Jalen Rose steadfastly says he didn't hear what Allen Iverson said he heard Jan. 28 in Conseco Fieldhouse.

Iverson, the 76ers' star and a leading candidate to become the NBA's Most Valuable Player, said he heard racist comments from the fans that night.

The issue became a cause celebre when Iverson vented about it a couple of nights later in Toronto, causing Pacers management to conduct an investigation and league authorities to have security people make four visits to the arena.

"I was one of the 10 players on the floor and I didn't hear [racist comments]," Rose was saying after the Sixers squeezed out a 111-105 overtime victory last night. "If I was out there and didn't hear it, to me, that represents an untruth."

Iverson wasn't in Indianapolis last night, spending the final two games of the season on the injured list, allowing healing time for a sore tailbone, a sore hip and a sore elbow.

The Sixers' Aaron McKie, though, was with the team and more than willing to defend Iverson's stance.

McKie said he did not hear anyone use the N-word but did hear racist epithets that night.

"I was standing right there, on several occasions,'' he said. "Obscene things. That's not right. They said some things tonight, but nothing wild and crazy. I told one guy to be quiet and enjoy the game, that it wasn't necessary to say what he was saying. I mean, we're human, too. We've got feelings."

The teams will meet in a first-round playoff series, and the best-of-five setup means the Sixers face at least one game in Indianapolis. And Rose wants to make sure the Pacers make Iverson and the Sixers feel as unwelcome as possible.

"The only thing I don't want is for anyone to do anything to try to bring validity to [Iverson's] statement," Rose said.

"But road teams should be treated like they're on the road. It's not like the Pacers should be rolling out any red carpet for them, making them feel welcome. When you're on the road, the fans are going to try and beat you into the ground. Everybody who has ever played learns that from grade school on. It's the same way when we go to Philly. . .Philly is the City of Brotherly Love, and we expect them to treat their team with that brotherly love.

"When we go there, we expect the fans to be on the edge of their seats, to say anything they can think of to Jalen and Reggie [Miller]. And most players love the opportunity to try to silence their critics."

The Pacers eliminated the Sixers in the second round in each of the last two seasons, once in four games, once in six.

And if the Sixers feel that Conseco is one of the most difficult places to play, that's fine with Rose.

"They lost here the last two seasons," Rose said. "That's the same reason I felt Chicago Stadium was the worst for us, when [the Bulls] had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. But at the end of the day, when I looked back, I knew it had something to do with Michael and Scottie." *

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