When Larry Brown said Allen Iverson could come off the bench "if he thought the guys ahead of him were better," a silence filled the Wachovia Center hallway.
Brown, now coaching the Charlotte Bobcats, wasn't kidding.
The ensuing question, though, brought laughter: "Does Iverson think anyone is better than him?"
"I don't know," continued Brown, who coached Iverson and the 76ers for six seasons. "I recommended him to some winning teams. I told them he has to know he's going to play. I think if he went to a great team and he was in a three-guard rotation, I think he could accept that. But if he was on a lesser team, as competitive as he is, he's going to want to play, and it would be hard to not play him."
During the summer, Iverson signed a one-year contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. Earlier this week, Iverson and Memphis agreed to terminate the contract.
Brown said that one of the reasons it didn't work for Iverson in Memphis was that Iverson's family remained in Atlanta.
"It's an important thing for him to have that stability, I think," Brown said.
Before last night's game between the Bobcats, 3-7, and the Sixers, 4-6, Brown campaigned for the pint-size guard who, as a Sixer, scored thousands of points and won hundred of games.
"I hope somebody picks him up," Brown said. "I don't want to see him end his career this way. He won a lot of games when I was sitting on the bench. I didn't have a lot of issues with him as a player. My issues were things I thought he should have been more responsible of, but he tried to win, competed. He brought a lot of excitement here. He accomplished a lot of unbelievable things, and I think he still has a lot to offer."
Brown said that during the summer he considered signing Iverson, but only if they had three guards and Iverson would "definitely play."
When Charlotte drafted Gerald Wallace and signed free-agent Flip Murray, Brown felt signing Iverson would be unfair to his team.
During those discussions, Brown said that Iverson asked him that if he came to Charlotte, would Brown at least let him compete for a starting position.
Said Brown: "I can't speak for other people, I had issues with him, but in terms of him showing up for a game, to try to win the game and give his best, not many players have done it like him."