Denver Allen Iverson will skip the All-Star Game because of a sprained right ankle that has bothered him for two weeks.
Iverson was chosen as a reserve to the Western Conference squad for Sunday's game in Las Vegas, but the Denver Nuggets guard has missed seven of his last eight games after spraining his right ankle Jan. 29. The eight-time All-Star aggravated the injury Feb. 6 against New Orleans.
"Here is a guy who has always played with injuries and always played banged up. So if he's not able to play in the All-Star game he must be really hurt," teammate Marcus Camby said Tuesday.
More than being a tough guy, Camby suggested, Iverson is a team player.
"I think we need him more in Denver than they need him in Las Vegas," Camby said. "We want him to come back healthy in the second half of the season. It is going to be huge for us. The schedule isn't in our favor. We have a lot of road games."
The showcase game will now be missing two of the league's premier guards. Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns withdrew Monday because of shoulder inflammation.
Also Tuesday, the Nets said star point guard Jason Kidd would miss the next two games because of a back strain. The Nets had no information on whether he'll play in Las Vegas.
Iverson won't play against Minnesota on Wednesday night in the Nuggets' last game before the All-Star break. He hopes to return Feb. 20 at San Antonio when the regular season resumes.
Since coming to Denver in a Dec. 19 trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, Iverson has only played five games with Camby and Carmelo Anthony, the league's leading scorer, who was selected by commissioner David Stern last week as an injury replacement for the West All-Stars.
Iverson has averaged 26.8 points and 7.8 assists in 20 games for the Nuggets since being acquired from the 76ers on Dec. 19. For the year, his 28.7-point average is tied for third in the league.
Iverson wasn't at practice Tuesday but issued a statement through the team.
"I'm very disappointed that I can't play right now," Iverson said. "I was really looking forward to representing the Nuggets in my first All-Star Game with the West. However, I need to make sure my ankle is 100 percent for the stretch run."
Iverson, who earned All-Star MVP honors at the 2001 and '05 games, was selected as a starter by fans seven times during his decade in Philadelphia.
"I want to thank the Western Conference coaches for selecting me and my teammates and coaching staff for putting me in a position to succeed," he said.