BROTHERLY LOVE: The Philadelphia 76ers are not only building a team but a bridge over troubled waters.
That crystalized Wednesday night when point guard Allen Iverson, asked about coach Larry Brown, said:"I know he's a good coach, he's proven he's a good coach. Whether he's the best coach for me, I don't know."
That, in the aftermath of an 88-86 victory over Washington, followed a Philadelphia Inquirer article Wednesday in which Iverson complained about being publicly criticized by his coach and said he "would remember everything this summer" during the period from July 1 to Oct. 1 when the Sixers can negotiate a new contract with him.
After Sunday's loss in Washington, Brown criticized Iverson's - and everybody else's - lack of defense at key points.
"Who else's name did he mention?" Iverson said.
Said Brown: "If you put yourself up as one of the best players in the league, as an All-Star, there's going to be more responsibility placed on you. If you don't want that responsibility, don't ask for a big contract."
As the Sixers won their 22nd game to match last season's total, president Pat Croce was already quietly mediating behind the scenes and Sixers guard Aaron McKie was gently suggesting Iverson try another tack.
"I love Larry Brown as my coach, I love Allen Iverson as my captain," Croce said. "This is just some family laundry being aired out in public."
FRANCHISE PLAYERS: Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon, who has been with Houston since the 1984-85 season, recently became just the eighth player in NBA history to play in 1,000 or more games for the same franchise. John Havlicek tops the list. He played in 1,270 games for the Boston Celtics between 1962-63 and 1972-73. Hal Greer (Nationals/ Sixers), Robert Parish (Celtics), John Stockton (Jazz), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lakers), Karl Malone (Jazz) and Calvin Murphy (Rockets) round out the list of players who have cleared the 1,000-game milestone with the same team.
SUPER START: Spurs forward Tim Duncan is on pace to join 18 others as the only rookies ever to average 20 points and 10 rebounds in their inaugural campaign in the league. The rookie honor roll includes: Bob Pettit (1954-55), Elgin Baylor (1958-59), Wilt Chamberlain (1959-60), Oscar Robertson (1960-61), Walt Bellamy (1961-62), Rick Barry (1965-66), Elvin Hayes (1968-69), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969-70), Connie Hawkins (1969-70), Sidney Wicks (1971-72), Larry Bird (1979-80), Terry Cummings (1982-83), Clark Kellogg (1982-83), Ralph Sampson (1983-84), Hakeem Olajuwon (1984-85), David Robinson (1989-90), Alonzo Mourning (1992-93) and Shaquille O'Neal (1992-93).
AT HOME IN SEATTLE: Vin Baker's future with the SuperSonics could hinge on whether the franchise decides to rehire George Karl. Both the All-Star player and coach are up for new contracts this summer.
"Right now, I am looking forward to coming back. But the biggest thing is George being here. You know having George here is big," Baker told the Tacoma Morning News-Tribune. "I know the experience I have with George. Since I've been here with him, he has made my life and my career so much better.
"George has been a terrific coach. He is the best coach I've ever played for," Baker added. "He has given me the opportunity to win, and I think that will be something I have to weigh in when I have to talk about my contract."
Baker said he'll put aside any more discussion on the matter until after the playoffs are over.
"I really don't want to be preoccupied with that now. That's something that when the time comes and my opinion is asked, my opinion hopefully will be respected," he said. "I don't want it to be something where it interferes with the season."
Sound bite: "My feet are killing me. (My shoes) shrunk a little bit. You wouldn't believe the blisters I have." - Michael Jordan after wearing a pair of shoes from his rookie season in what may have been his final game at Madison Square Garden last week.