Allen Iverson's extended absence has fueled speculation that it's not really a sore back that's keeping him away, but his frustration with being relegated to the bench. Not so, Iverson said Sunday in an interview with A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers.
"That's hilarious," Iverson said. "My health is the most important thing, that was the whole thing. I know people are going to say that. I've been a warrior my whole career and I pride myself on that. But (the back injury), it is what it is.
Coming off the bench is "something I have to deal with," Iverson said. "That's not going to be a problem. And I wouldn't cheat the game, I wouldn't cheat myself, my family and friends. ... I wouldn't cheat all them because of a situation. It's just another obstacle in my life that I have to overcome. ... I owe too much to myself. I owe too much to my fans, people that care about me and love me and want to see me play. And to my teammates. I owe so much to my teammates to go out there and perform."
Iverson has missed the past 13 games due to the back injury, an absence that coincided with coach Michael Curry's admission that A.I. will have to go to the bench to spark the Pistons, who have struggled to find an identity since the cap-clearing trade that brought Iverson from Denver in exchange for Chauncey Billups. Detroit is 7-6 without Iverson and has lost four out of five, debunking the theory that the Pistons are better off without him. Detroit also has been without Richard Hamilton (groin) and Rasheed Wallace (calf) recently and has plummeted to seventh place in the East, only three games agead of Chicago in the loss column with 13 to play.The Bulls host the Pistons Tuesday night.
Iverson said he doesn't know when he'll be back, but hopes it's soon. Do the Pistons hope so, too? Curry said he's hopeful that Iverson will be able to participate in practice to some degree starting Monday.