About Cheeks: 76ers focused on trying to win, not Iverson
|December 10th, 2006||#1|
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Cheeks: 76ers focused on trying to win, not Iverson info
ORLANDO, Fla. - When the subject turned to Allen Iverson, Maurice Cheeks refused to budge.
The 76ers played for the second night since essentially deciding the Iverson era is over in Philadelphia, losing 86-84 to the Orlando Magic and extending their losing streak to seven games.
Cheeks insisted again and again and again that he's focused on trying to win with the players available, not spending time worrying about what's going to happen with the team's disgruntled franchise star.
Iverson was banished from the team before Friday night's 113-98 home loss to the Washington Wizards and also told he would not accompany the 76ers to Orlando. Sixers chairman Ed Snider later said the seven-time All-Star's request to be traded would be granted.
"My energy is focused on the guys that I have in the locker room," Cheeks said. "I'm not worried about anything dragging on. My energy is focused on the players and the game at hand. That's what I do. I'm a basketball coach, and I'm trying to coach these guys to the best of my ability."
Asked the same question in a different form, Cheeks reiterated his position, adding that he's also talked to the team about concentrating on playing - not Iverson's situation.
"My message to those guys is try and focus your energy where it can help us," the coach said. "Where you focus your energy is on the basketball floor. That's what we're trying to do, and that's not going to change."
One teammate conceded the previous 24 hours had been "crazy."
"It's a lot going on around here. A lot of uncertainty about things," reserve Steven Hunter said.
"Everybody's just got to focus on the task at hand. ... I guess that's why we're professionals. Everybody couldn't handle having a friend and a teammate here with you one day and the next day he's gone, and you're still asked to do your job. You definitely have to grow up fast, be a professional and go out and do your job."
Guard Kevin Ollie, who replaced Iverson in the lineup, agreed.
"We've got to stay together and continue to fight," Ollie said. "We have good guys in the locker room. We've just got to keep playing and stay away from all the off-the-court stuff."
The Sixers said Friday that the decision to send the four-time scoring champion home was not a suspension and that Iverson's future would be re-evaluated after the Orlando game.
Cheeks shrugged off a question asking when he planned to re-evaluate Iverson's status.
"I'm not even thinking about anything else because my immediate attention is for the guys in the locker room," Cheeks said. "After that, we'll go from there. But my immediate attention is for the guys in the locker room."
For the second night in a row, Chris Webber played well in Iverson's absence. He had 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists against Orlando after having 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists against Washington.
Webber said not having Iverson on the floor "changes a lot" for Philadelphia.
"He's one of the best players in the NBA, so we'll have to depend on each other more," Webber said, adding that the team's mind-set if fine despite the turmoil of the past two days.
"He's still a friend of mine. I still talk to him. This is a business. I just wish the best for him," Webber said. "But we're good. We just don't like losing."