AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) – Allen Iverson’s season is over. The Detroit Pistons said Friday the All-Star guard will miss the rest of the season – and the playoffs if they make it – because of a sore back.

Iverson missed 16 games from Feb. 27 to March 28. He returned for the past three games and averaged 7.7 points and 2.7 assists in nearly 19 minutes. He complained about his role as a reserve, saying he would rather retire than come off the bench next season.

Leon Rose, Iverson’s agent, insisted Iverson’s health was the only factor in the decision.

“There’s nothing else going on,” Rose said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

The Pistons began Friday as the seventh-seeded team in the Eastern Conference. They lead Chicago by a half-game and Charlotte by two with less than two weeks left in the regular season.

Detroit plays Saturday in Philadelphia, where Iverson was the league’s MVP. The 76ers traded him two years ago to Denver and the Nuggets then dealt him to the Pistons for Chauncey Billups in November.

While Iverson’s arrival started a slump that lasted much of the season, Billups immediately made a huge impact on Denver, which has become one of the top teams in the Western Conference.

Iverson averaged 17.4 points, 4.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds for the Pistons, who struggled to integrate him and his preference to control the basketball on offense.

While he did not contribute much on the court, his $20-plus million contract that expires after this season gives Detroit a lot of salary cap space to potentially make major moves this summer and next.

Iverson said the right things when he was introduced as a Piston, but didn’t always do the right thing.

“One thing is for sure, I’m going to do whatever the coach wants me to do,” Iverson said at a packed news conference on the day Dumars presented him with a Detroit jersey.

Less than a month later, however, Iverson was the only player who didn’t show up for a practice coach Michael Curry wanted to have on Thanksgiving and was fined.

The native of Hampton, Va. has averaged 27.1 points and 6.2 points in his career since Philadelphia drafted him out of Georgetown with the first pick in the 1996 draft. He was league MVP in 2001, when he lifted the Sixers to the NBA finals, and was an All-Star this season for the ninth time.


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