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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Iverson Denies Demanding Trade

We should’ve known Allen Iverson wouldn’t go away quietly. ESPN.com is offering a preview of A.I. on Quite Frankly, hosted by his favorite mouthpiece, Stephen A. Smith.

Allen Iverson says he never demanded a trade, but he's sure happy he landed in Denver.

In his first interview since the Nuggets acquired him from the 76ers, Iverson told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on Wednesday, "It's a great feeling. I'm just glad the whole process is over. I think I'm just put in a situation where I can succeed." . . .

Iverson took exception to the perception that he went into Sixers general manager Billy King's office and demanded a trade almost two weeks ago.

"I went into a meeting with Billy and I had expressed my frustrations," Iverson said. "We had lost 12 of 14 games and something wasn't right. I told Billy King we couldn't win with this style. I didn't directly say, 'Trade me -- I'm ready to go.'"

The four-time scoring champion, seven-time All-Star and 2001 league MVP said he told his teammates about the meeting and told them he "loved them."

But he said the Sixers had to know that, "If they didn't change what was going on so that we had a chance to win, I thought they should get rid of me." . . .

"From the last month I didn't feel appreciated at all," Iverson said. "And I still feel that way to an extent. I just knew that any team I went to they were going to appreciate what I can do on a basketball court."

Iverson repeatedly thanked his fans for all of their support, but he appeared relieved to be leaving the Philadelphia sports pressure cooker.

"I love my fans in Philadelphia, but this is the hardest place in the world to play in," Iverson said. "And I think it's the hardest place to play in to be a superstar. Just to be the No. 1 guy. All eyes on you -- because everybody wants you to be perfect, but not themselves."

This is the type of stuff that makes even those who always wanted to embrace Iverson ultimately glad to see him go. I don’t care what he said about Philly. In fact, he’s probably right. But why go out denying the obvious for yet another time?

In the midst of the numerous Iverson blow-ups with the Sixers, Smith offered Iverson’s side from “sources.” The galling part was that he would basic refute the guard’s words to the rest of the press with how Iverson “really” felt — never admitting the “source” was Iverson. Not that anyone needed to be told that, but it always felt like a slap at Philly. It just had that feel of two guys who became famous in this city spitting in our face.

There’s no doubt he forced this. There’s no doubt he has caused most, if not all, of the controversies we all endured for his decade-long tenure on the Sixers. Fans knew it, and most loved him, anyway. We deserved better than this from A.I. on his way out.

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