PHILADELPHIA -- Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers appear headed toward a bitter parting.
Iverson is talkin' about bolting Philly -- and the Sixers may finally be ready to show their franchise player the door.
Iverson's 11-year career in Philadelphia took another tumultuous turn Friday when the former MVP hinted that a trade may be best after the Sixers sent him home and ruled him out of their next two games.
"As hard as it is to admit, a change may be the best thing for everyone," Iverson said. "I hate admitting that because I love the guys on the team and the city of Philadelphia. I truly wanted to retire a 76er."
In a surprising turn of events, Iverson was banished by the club and didn't play Friday against Washington. Team president Billy King said the move was not a suspension and Iverson's future would be re-evaluated after Saturday night's game at Orlando.
Iverson told ESPN reporter Jim Gray on Friday night that he hopes a trade is in the works and that he hopes it will be to Minnesota.
ESPN reporter Lisa Salters spoke with Sixers chairman Ed Snider on the sidelines at Friday's game against Washington and he said Philadelphia will work to accomodate Iverson's trade request and wishes him the best.
"We'll trade him,'' Ed Snider said.
King and coach Maurice Cheeks said Iverson was sent home because he did not practice on Thursday and left Wednesday's blowout loss at Chicago with back spasms. However, the move to bench their captain comes with Iverson's name swirling in heavy trade rumors.
King would not say before the Sixers' game against the Wizards if Iverson had asked for a trade or if he was actively trying to trade the four-time NBA scoring champion.
"Allen was not able to practice yesterday because of the back and today Mo made a decision not to play him tonight or tomorrow," King said. "We told him to just take the night off and tomorrow."
However, Iverson told a different story. Iverson, whose off-court behavior and coaching clashes often overshadowed his gritty, highlight-reel play, released a statement through agent Leon Rose stating that he told the Sixers he was healthy enough to play.
Iverson said he was told not to participate in shootaround and instead watched from the sideline. He joined the Sixers in the huddle, then was told by Cheeks not to come to the Wachovia Center.
"In my entire career, even the doctors haven't been able to tell me not to play," Iverson said. "I've played through injury and illness. I think everyone knows how much I love being out on the court, competing and winning. That's why it was so disheartening to be told that I couldn't play, knowing that I was ready. It hurt even more to be told not to come at all."
Iverson, who leads the league with 31.7 points per game, left Wednesday night's 121-94 loss at Chicago in the second half, complaining of the spasms, and did not practice Thursday. The Sixers are 5-12, have lost five straight and 12 of 14 overall entering Friday's game.
"This season has been very frustrating for everyone," Iverson said. "We've lost 12 of 14 games and nothing seems to be working. I have expressed my frustration to my teammates, however, I have continued to give 100 percent night in and night out. Apparently, it hasn't been enough to help our team win."
The losses and Iverson's petulance also have led to a splintered relationship with Cheeks. Iverson left a practice last week reportedly after a disagreement with Cheeks and skipped a team bowling function for season-ticket holders later that night. He apologized and was fined by the organization.
"It happens," Cheeks said. "Sometimes coaches and players disagree."
Cheeks said he expected Iverson to finish the season in Philadelphia.
The floundering Sixers missed the playoffs last year for the second time in three seasons, leaving King to proclaim at the NBA draft lottery it was time to "change the culture." It has changed, but arguably for the worse.
Iverson reportedly was nearly dealt last offseason to Boston, and complained the trade talk took a toll on him and his family. A late July visit from King finally assured Iverson he wasn't going anywhere, and Iverson repeated a familiar pledge in training camp that he wanted to end his career with the Sixers.
"I always wanted to stay here because of the loyalty, but it's all I know," he said then.
Iverson, the No. 1 pick in the 1996 draft and a seven-time All-Star, has won four scoring titles, two All-Star game MVPs and the MVP in 2001 after taking the Sixers to the NBA finals.
With his rants about practice, his run-ins with the law and former coach Larry Brown, and a failed rap career, Iverson was often a magnet for trouble off the court.
Iverson and Brown formed a turbulent combination during the six seasons they spent together in Philly. Brown criticized Iverson for taking too many shots and accused him of being selfish at times.
Iverson often arrived late for practice or missed them entirely for various reasons. In one infamous blowup at the end of the 2002 season, he repeated "talkin' about practice" nearly 20 times during a rambling monologue. He now pokes fun at the memorable meltdown.
Brown and Iverson eventually reconciled and Brown named his former guard co-captain of the 2004 United States Olympic men's basketball team.
"I appreciate that in my 11 years in Philadelphia, the fans have always stood by me, supported me, and gone to bat for me," Iverson said.