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What will the 76ers do with Simmons? Philly guard wants out

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The rift between the Philadelphia 76ers and their star guard was shattered beyond repair. There was no turning back, the deal was done — Allen Iverson was traded to the Detroit Pistons.

Team president Pat Croce had tried mending the relationship between Iverson, the franchise star, and coach Larry Brown but found both sides unwilling to bend on the thornier aspects of their disagreements.

“It was a horrifying experience,” Croce said.

None more so than when Croce took the call from general manager Billy King in his Ocean City, New Jersey, home in the summer of 2000 saying that a trade had been reached with the Pistons and that Iverson — his habitual tardiness and clashes with Brown on the rise — had played his last game with the Sixers.

“I couldn’t protect Allen,” Croce said. “If he wasn’t going to listen to the coach and if he was going to be late for practice or miss practice, I couldn’t do anything about that.”

The next call Croce made was to Iverson, with a simple message: “You’re going to be traded, Allen. I can’t protect the front porch if you leave the backdoor open. There’s no way.”

That was that — until it wasn’t. Sixers backup center Matt Geiger refused to waive a contract clause that would have earned him a 15% pay raise if he was traded. Unable to find another combination that worked, the deal was off.

AI stayed a Sixer.

And he didn’t pout that season. He didn’t whine because things were said by his coach that hurt his feelings. Years before his famous diatribe about practice, Iverson was on his professional best behavior in 2000-01 and led the Sixers to the NBA Finals while he won MVP.

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