PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Allen Iverson isn't releasing his rap CD after all.
``I'm through with it,'' Iverson said Monday, the day before the start of the Philadelphia 76ers' training camp. ``It's something I always wanted to do. It was a childhood dream of mine, just like basketball. But I feel like people took it the wrong way. It kind of took all the excitement out of it.''
Iverson drew criticism from several civil rights groups and was reprimanded by NBA commissioner David Stern for repeatedly using offensive lyrics in ''40 Bars,'' the debut single released last October.
Stern called some of the lyrics ``coarse, offensive and anti-social.'' After a meeting with the commissioner last preseason, Iverson said he'd take steps to eliminate the most offensive words from the final version of his album.
The CD originally was to be released around the All-Star game in February. But Iverson put off releasing it until after the season.
Iverson, heavily criticized for his behavior on and off the court throughout his career, turned his image around with a remarkable season.
He was league MVP, captured his second scoring title in three years, was MVP of the All-Star game and led the Sixers to the finals for the first time since 1982-83.
``Just the response that I got from it, the negativity behind it, I just felt like it's not something I should go through, or my teammates, better yet, my kids and my family,'' Iverson said. ``I look at it as something I tried to do and I just rubbed people the wrong way with it. The negativity swayed me away from it.''
Iverson's teammates are glad they won't have to deal with the distractions surrounding the album. Questions about the CD followed Iverson throughout last season and into the playoffs.
``You could see him evolving as a person,'' said Aaron McKie, one of Iverson's closest friends on the team. ``It's causing too many problems with his job. When you come to play basketball and people ask you about a rap record, something is wrong. I think he pretty much wants to focus on his family and playing basketball.''
Iverson married his longtime girlfriend, Tawanna Turner, in the offseason, had an arthroscopic operation on his right elbow last week and is preparing to get back on the court. He's tired of hearing questions about his maturity.
``It's starting to get old,'' he said. ``I'm 26 years old, I'm married with two kids. What do you expect me to do? Be 20, 21 like I was when I came into the league. I'm going to get better as a person.''
Sixers coach Larry Brown is confident Iverson will approach this season the same way he did last year. Iverson came early to practices last season, stayed late, was unselfish on the court and became a leader.
``I think he's grown up each year, has gotten better each year, has become a leader each year,'' Brown said. ``Look at what he's accomplished. How many people would've imagined he'd be MVP of the league, MVP of the All-Star game, lead a team to the championship with all the injuries we had? That was an incredible accomplishment. I only see him getting better.''