Iverson leaves Grizzlies with permission
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Disgruntled Memphis guard Allen Iverson returned to his home in Atlanta after receiving permission to leave the team to attend to personal business.
Team owner Michael Heisley gave the four-time NBA scoring leader permission to skip the Grizzlies’ game Saturday night against the Los Angeles Clippers following a 114-98 loss to the Lakers the night before.
According to a team spokesman, Iverson participated in a walkthrough at the team’s hotel in the morning and then hopped a flight in the afternoon after he and personal manager Gary Moore met with Heisley.
Iverson has played in three games since returning from a hamstring injury, averaging 12.3 points, 3.7 assists and 22.3 minutes. Coach Lionel Hollins spoke to him briefly before he left, but would not elaborate on the conversation.
“It’s a personal issue that they asked for permission to go attend to,” Hollins said. “It was granted, and it’s indefinite. I have no other information.”
Iverson played 21 minutes against the Lakers, making two of five shots and finishing with eight points and three assists. In the postgame dressing room, the 10-time All-Star reiterated his displeasure about coming off the bench for the first time in his 14-year career.
“It’s something that I never did in my life, so obviously it’s a big adjustment,” he said. “I’m so tired of discussing that, talking about that, every single day. It’s just not something that I want to discuss. That’s something you’ve got to ask the coach. He makes all the decisions around here. Obviously, they signed me for a reason. They’ve been watching me play this game for 13 years, and they know what I do on the basketball court.”
Iverson also acknowledged that he had become a distraction.
“When I hear anything about the Memphis Grizzlies, I don’t hear you guys talk about anything other than the situation with me coming off the bench,” he said Friday. “I mean, there’s got to be something else with this team to talk about besides that. But I guess that sells a lot better than anything else when it comes to this team.”
The worst part of his situation, Iverson said, was that he and Hollins have not discussed the situation in private.
“That’s probably why it’s at this point right now,” Iverson said. “It’s probably going to always be hard for me and him to see eye-to-eye, because we’ve never even talked to each other. Obviously that’s what you do if you’re trying to accomplish the same goal.”
When asked before Saturday’s game to respond, Hollins bluntly: “If Allen wants to talk to me, my door is open. I talk to him during the game before the game and after the game.
“I understand star power, and that’s to be expected,” Hollins added. “I wouldn’t mind even talking about Allen’s star power if it was about the game and his performance during the game, versus what Allen has said and what he will or won’t do.”
The Grizzlies used Marcus Williams as the backup point guard against the Clippers.
“It’s the way we’d been going since training camp, until the last three games,” Hollins said.
Asked if he had any timetable as to when Iverson might start for the Grizzlies, Hollins said: “I have no comment about that.”