PHILADELPHIA - Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan, who didn't always see eye-to-eye in the respect game, are looking forward to being teammates in today's NBA All-Star game at 5:30 p.m. (NBC-26).
"I always thought that we would be the best backcourt in the world," Iverson said Saturday. "My son is 4-years old. He'll say 'You're Allen Iverson. I'm Michael Jordan.' And we play one-on-one."
Replied Jordan: "I hope Michael Jordan wins."
Actually, with Jason Kidd in the starting lineup, Jordan will probably play small forward today. And, while admitting his "competitive juices" might insist otherwise, Jordan is vowing not to play a lot of minutes - which means no game-long showdown with Kobe Bryant or anyone else.
"I already told Kobe if he tries to make this thing personal I'm going to foul out in the first five minutes," Jordan said. "I'll get my five, six minutes in the first half, maybe six minutes in the second half and let the young guys play. I don't think I have to prove anything. It's their showcase. I was there once."
Early in Iverson's career, when he was pining about a lack of respect from the rest of the league, it was Jordan who said "you're going to have to respect us" first, meaning that Iverson needed to show appreciation for the veterans and the legacy of the game.
Iverson is catching on. He plans to wear a No. 6 jersey today to honor Julius Erving, although he said he still hadn't cleared it with Dr. J.
"It'll be an honor," Iverson said. "He's meant a lot to the city."
Iverson emulated Jordan this year in one respect - he skipped Friday's media day. Both were fined $10,000 for the no-show.
"I wasn't feeling well," said Iverson, who nevertheless attended one of his many social functions Friday evening. "Next year I might skip it again if I'm not feeling well."
Jordan, whose Washington Wizards are one of the surprises of the season, said he was open to making a trade to help his team down the stretch. He also said he doesn't plan to play more than two years in his second comeback.
"I'm just going to take it slow, year by year, and see how the body holds up," Jordan said. "If the body holds up, I can play. If the body doesn't, then I've got to make excuses."
With today's game on Iverson's court, Jordan knows he'll probably have to settle for second billing. He doesn't mind at all.
"I don't anticipate getting as many shots," Jordan said with a laugh. "But I don't have to. I'm an all-around player. I can pass."
But Iverson, knowing that everyone's expecting him to shoot, shoot, shoot, said he won't try to be a ball hog.
"I'm going to try to throw a couple of lobs," Iverson said, "try to get an assist to Mike."
Replied Jordan, who is about to turn 39: "It won't be a lob. I can tell you that right now."