Iverson, Jordan skip All-Star media sessionPosted: Friday February 08, 2002 7:18 PM
Updated: Friday February 08, 2002 8:39 PM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Kobe Bryant showed up wearing No. 23 on a blue 76ers jersey, but it wasn't because he was trying to make up for no-shows Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson at the same time. He was wearing it as a tribute to his father, Joe Bryant.
Bryant's efforts aside, the absence of both Jordan and Iverson created a huge void. The game's biggest name and the hometown hero apparently both decided to pay the $10,000 fine instead of show up for media day.
"This is a guy who has about three parties in town, and every night he has something going on," said Iverson's teammate, Dikembe Mutombo. "He's enjoying himself. I don't know why he's not here. It doesn't matter whether he's sick today or what, but when it comes to game time everybody knows that AI will show up."
Mutombo also said Iverson will go through with a plan to wear No. 6 in the All-Star game as a tribute to Julius Erving. Iverson had said he wanted to check with Dr. J first.
"It's going to happen. He's going to wear it," Mutombo said. "I wish they could give me Charles Barkley's or Moses [Malone's] jersey to wear."
Iverson will have a hard time topping last year, when he led the East to an incredible fourth-quarter comeback victory and was named MVP. East coach Byron Scott plans to give Iverson every chance to earn another trophy.
"Being his home, he'll probably get more time than anyone else," Scott said. "I want him to go out there and have some fun in his hometown."
As for Jordan, no one expected him for media day -- he's been paying the fine for years. He said last week it doesn't make sense to have to face reporters on Friday and then again at practice on Saturday, even if skipping Friday perpetuates the image that he lives and plays by his own rules.
"I don't care about that," Jordan said. "That's one of my opinions, and I've been doing that for years, and you can put any kind of twist you want on it. Obviously I've always been very respectful with the media. I feel like I don't want to overdo it. I think when you get into those circumstances where you get exposed to the media, you get stupid questions."
Jordan will play in Sunday's game, of course, but he has dismissed any thought of a Jordanesque performance or any kind of a showdown with someone like Bryant. Jordan emphatically said this week that he will play very few minutes because he needs the rest, even if the game is tight in the fourth quarter.
Still, Scott isn't quite sure whether he believes that.
"He'll probably send word down to nudge me to put him back in," Scott said. "When the game's on the line, you never know. If he's out there, I'm sure he'll want to stay out there. If he's not in, he might want to get back in. But we'll have to wait until Sunday."