by Lang Whitaker

It’s 2001 all over again, and the world is crazy for Allen Iverson. He’s front page news on every website and newspaper. AI and his trade talk will not die, so we will continue to delve into it. No breaks, all AI, all the time…

• David Aldridge says a deal was in place to send AI to Charlotte, but AI was not feeling playing with Adam Morrison because he was afraid of Morrison’s mustache. OK, the story doesn’t really say that, but the deal did get called off. The crazy thing is who the Sixers probably would have received, a combination of Brevin Knight, Melvin Ely, Othella Harrington and Primoz Brezec. What, the BETcats wouldn’t throw in Jake Voskuhl?

If that trade isn’t a sign the Sixers are planning on tanking the season to try and get Greg Oden, I don’t know what is. As Khalid said, if those are the guys the Sixers would be willing to get for one of the greatest players in NBA history, they might as well get Khalid, me and Sam to finish out the year.

I’m assuming the Sixers would also require a first round draft pick from Charlotte, which would give them two shots in the lottery, but with Billy King’s luck, Oden would probably decide to stay in school one more year.

(And ESPN is having to report what the man they fired, David Aldridge, is reporting, although they don’t mention DA by name.)

• Vecsey says the BETcats are trying to be the middle-man in a three-team deal. And he takes a shot at Jim Gray, which is always fun.

• The Boston Globe says the Celtics are still involved, but that the Warriors are now the clubhouse leaders, with Baron Davis included in the deal. The whole Iverson/Nellie combo would be mind-blowing. Chris Mullin doesn’t confirm or deny anything.

• Shaun Livingston and Corey Magette for AI?

• Do the T-Wolves even need Iverson?

• Mike Bibby seems unemotional about the whole thing.

• Bob Ryan somehow connects Iverson to Ralph Kiner and Paul Anka. What is this, 1958?

• The Sixers have already edited Iverson out of their pregame highlight video.

QUOTES OF THE DAY…
(ALL NEW BALL EDITION)
“Man, if they switch back, hell will freeze over. I will tell you that. I don’t take none of the stuff (Stern) says until it happens.” — Rasheed

“I would have had me a drink or two, but we had a game today. I know there’s a lot of guys on this team that ain’t going to be mad at all.” — Robert Horry.

“I think players had adjusted to it, but it’s kind of like one of my favorite jackets is this old leather jacket. If it was made out of plastic, it wouldn’t feel the same way.” — Rick Carlisle.

“The last game we can use it, we’ll kick them out the window and bring back the old ones. That’s the only thing I know how to do.” — Sam Mitchell.

“They know they made a mistake. They pretty much threw out the ball and said, ‘Here, play with it,’ without getting the opinion of the players. That was just the first mistake. [Stern] is listening to the players and going by what the players think.” — Paul Pierce.

“It’s terrible. I think everyone’s gotten used to the new ball. I don’t think they should do it unless they do it in the offseason.” — Wally Szczerbiak.

“Everyone has to play with the same ball, so who gives a damn?” — Gregg Popovich.

THE LINKS…
• The Pacers were down to a skeleton crew last night, as everyone from players to security to broadcast crew members all had some sort of stomach problem. Did they all take a cruise ship to the game or something?

• Michael Redd says Ruben Patterson’s “will is stronger than anything.” Um…

• The Suns are just destroying teams right now. They drilled Orlando last night in Orlando.

• Francisco Elson has officially taken Fabricio Oberto’s spot the Spurs’ starting lineup.

• Jerry Sloan got his 1,000th win last night. Kirilenko says Sloan is like an old Russian.

• Dallas needs someone to step it up besides Dirk. Also, check the note at the end here: The Mavs doctor is named Dr. T.O.? Wonder how much Mark Cuban paid him to use that name?

• There’s a lot of confusion here, but the end result is that Bonzi Wells has returned to the Rockets. He doesn’t know why he ever gone, though.

• Canzano returns to blast the Blazers for firing Darnell Valentine, whose wife was wrapping presents for charity at the Blazers’ practice facility when her husband was canned.

• Without Chris Bosh, the Raptors went back to their running ways…and lost again.

• By the way, the Sixers have lost 8 straight.

• Bynum vs. Yao tonight.