Iverson Unapologetic About All-Star Start

By DAN GELSTON
|  Saturday, Jan 23, 2010  |  Updated 3:42 PM EDT
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Allen Iverson has gone from retirement to All-Star starter.

And if his critics don't feel he deserves the nod to represent the Eastern Conference, well, that's too bad. He'll be ready to play the Feb. 14 game at Cowboys Stadium.

"The way I look at it is, what should I do?" Iverson said Friday night. "Should I worry about what those people say or concentrate on the million-plus people that voted for me. To me, it's a no-brainer. My fans want to see me play and they have the right to put in who they want to put in the game.

"They voted me in, and it's an honor. I don't want to disrespect them by not participating in the game," he said.

Iverson, who returned to the Philadelphia 76ers in December, has played only 20 games this season and his 14.4 scoring average was well off his career mark (27.0). The former NBA MVP still has a loyal fan base, and he received 1,269,568 votes to earn a spot in the East lineup with Cleveland's LeBron James, Miami guard Dwyane Wade, Orlando center Dwight Howard and Boston forward Kevin Garnett.

Iverson briefly retired after an ill-fated stint with Memphis and his selection sparked criticism of the voting process.

He scored only 11 points on 4 of 14 shooting in Philadelphia's 92-81 win over Dallas on Friday night. It was the first time the Sixers won this season (1-6) when Iverson scores less than 15 points.

Iverson has been bothered by an arthritic left knee that's sometimes limited his availability. He's been an All-Star for 11 straight seasons but missed the 2007 game because of injury.

Iverson called the fan support a blessing and said fans love him because he's never pretended to be perfect.

"I don't try and be the perfect man in this world," he said. "I don't think people are ever going to look at me like that. They never looked at me like that. I think a lot of people in the world respect that, me being true and honest to myself."

Iverson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 draft, but his first 10 turbulent seasons in Philadelphia were marred by rants about practice, run-ins with former coach Larry Brown, arrests and a failed rap career.

He can empathize with what golf great Tiger Woods is going through since his Nov. 27 car accident in Florida. Iverson feels sorry for Woods because he's still being hounded by the media after his revelations of extra marital affairs.

"For me to sit and watch him go through what he's going through right now, it's kind of a hurting feeling for me to see somebody go through like that because he is human," Iverson said. "He made a mistake. I'm not saying I condone it all, but he made a mistake and he's really paying for it now. I think after a while, enough is enough."

Iverson was a four-time scoring champion in his first stint with the Sixers and led them to the 2001 NBA finals before a bitter relationship with management forced his trade to Denver in 2006. He bounced from the Nuggets to Detroit to three games this year with the Grizzlies before finding his way back to Philadelphia, where fans still roar at his buckets.

The 34-year-old Iverson refuses to accept this could be his last All-Star game. He said he heard the same complaints last year in Detroit when he made the team with his numbers in decline.

"They've been saying that the last five years," Iverson said. "I've been hearing the same thing. That's not something I think about."

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