Thirteen years ago today, the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors faced off in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It was also the day Allen Iverson celebrated his individual excellence before and during the game, etching himself into the team and the city’s history once and for all.
The 2000-01 season was a critical one for Iverson. He had won the scoring title in 1999, established himself as one of the best scorers in the league, but he also clashed with coaches and teammates, and no one thought a team led by a ball-dominant guard of his size could ever compete for a championship.
The second round matchup between the Sixers and Raptors was touted as a marquee match-up between Iverson and Vince Carter. That narrative lived up to expectations. With the series tied 1-1, Carter hit eight three-pointers in the first half on his way to 50 points and a Raptors victory:
The Sixers would win Game 4 on the road, setting the stage for a critical Game 5 in Philadelphia. Before the game, Iverson accepted the Most Valuable Player award from commissioner David Stern and professed his love for the city of Philadelphia in this speech. Iverson proceeded to drop 52 points on the Raptors, leading the Sixers to a 121-88 win:
The craziest thing about his performance: it wasn’t even his highest scoring game of the series. That would be Game 2, when he scored 54 points in a home win. The Sixers would defeat the Raptors in seven games, and make it all the way to the Finals before losing to the Lakers. The Sixers looked primed to make a series of playoff runs with Iverson, but they would not make the Finals again. But after the playoff run in 2001, we learned to stop doubting Iverson, and focused on the things he could do instead of dwelling on his limitations.
What do you remember about this series?
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