Trouble in Philly
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun
Every couple of years a Vince Carter-for-Allen Iverson trade rumour makes the rounds.
Well, there could be plenty of that and a whole lot more coming out of Philadelphia this summer, with the rocky marriage between Iverson and the 76ers inching closer to the point where lawyers will be needed.
Iverson chose to remain in street clothes for the Sixers' 85-69 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, rather than coming off the bench. This dramatic turn of events unfolded after Sixers coach Chris Ford, who was shocked to see his star player in uniform, told Iverson that if he wanted to be added to the lineup at such short notice, he would be a sub rather than a starter. Iverson had missed the previous three games because of a swollen right knee.
"I'm a starter, not a sixth man," Iverson protested. "Why would I come off the bench? I've been a starter here for eight years."
Ford said he was worried about Iverson's conditioning, which may be partially true, but there's a lot more going on here. Essentially, the Sixers organization has decided it no longer is going to ask "how high?" whenever Iverson screams "jump."
Communication has been a problem between Iverson and Ford since the latter replaced Randy Ayers as coach on Feb. 9. On Sunday, Iverson apparently told the team's trainers he intended to play, but Iverson never passed that information along to Ford.
When Iverson was asked if he thought he would be in the lineup in Memphis tonight, he responded wryly, "It depends on if (Ford) thinks I'm conditioned enough."
Philly remains in the hunt for an Eastern Conference playoff berth, but that fact has done nothing to ease the tension of a 28-39 campaign. Thus the speculation that Iverson and the Sixers can't co-exist beyond this season.
So think about it: If you were the Raptors, would you trade Carter for Iverson? And if you were the Sixers, would you trade Iverson for Carter?
If both clubs are desperate to make changes, you never know what could happen.
FUR HITS THE FAN
Attention mascots: Your teams may not cover your furry butts if attempts at humour fall flat.
Earlier this season, the Utah Jazz was fined $15,000 US by the NBA for what was deemed to be an inappropriate in-game skit that ridiculed former Jazz forward and current Los Angeles Laker Karl Malone. Utah's mascot, the Bear, had a mock phone conversation with a Malone impersonator, who complained about life in L.A. The phone call ended with the would-be Malone saying, "It could be worse, I could be Kobe." Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, of course, is facing rape charges in Eagle County, Colo.
Well, believe it or not, the Jazz forced the man who plays the Bear to pay half the fine -- $7,500 -- out of his own pocket. Yes, the skit was the mascot's idea, but the Jazz front office, including owner Larry Miller, gave it the green light.
For a multi-million-dollar operation like the Jazz, or any NBA team, to do something like that is one of the cheapest things we've ever seen.
So the Chicago Bulls have waived former Raptor Rick Brunson to make room for former Raptor Jannero Pargo. Okay, this is getting silly. Clearly Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald and Bulls GM John Paxson have some sort of weird bet going on to see which team can play the most players from the other team in a single season. And maybe the bet is only for a single dollar, like in that old movie Trading Places. Grunwald and Paxson had best hope Corie Blount and Jerome Williams aren't plotting an elaborate revenge scheme, like Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy.
The Memphis Grizzlies, whose star player is Spaniard Pao Gasol, did a classy thing last Friday in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Madrid. The Grizzlies asked for a moment of silence before their home game against the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis players all wore black shoes, black headbands and black armbands bearing Gasol's name and number ... There was a rarity on Sunday when Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves fouled out of a game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Amazingly, Garnett has been disqualified only 12 times in 678 regular-season games ... Have you ever looked in the mirror and suddenly realized how much of your life is gone and how you haven't exactly been doing the things you thought you would be doing? Coach Phil Jackson of the Lakers had one of those moments recently. "I don't think of myself as an NBA lifer," Jackson, 58, said. "But I've spent only five years away from the NBA since I got out of college, so I guess I am."