For a brief moment last Wednesday night, Allen Iverson was back. Sure he was just presenting the game ball but seeing Iverson on an actual NBA court brought back a flood of memories for fans in attendance and those watching at home. Instantly, Iverson & Bubba Chuck (Iverson’s nickname) were trending on Twitter, which as The Starting Five phenomenally summarizes, is because…
“His humble beginnings are something that many of us can relate to in some form or another. Just coming up with the deck stacked against him the way it was is enough to garner respect from anyone…It didn’t matter if he came in at six in the morning, missed practice and arrived just before tip-off, if Iverson was in uniform he gave us all he had, all the time. Never dogging it, and after his antics got old, we were still willing to live with it because we knew he was worth it.”
It’s safe to say that Game 6 was the Sixers’ biggest home playoff game since the 2001 NBA Finals, which if you remember, was the year of Iverson.
With Iverson’s Game 6 appearance, it’s a good time to reminisce about the top five Allen Iverson moments of the 2000-2001 season.
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5. 2001 NBA ALL-STAR GAME
The 50th All-Star Game in NBA history became one of the best All-Star Games in recent memory as the undersized East squad came back from a 21-point deficit with nine minutes left to defeat a stacked West squad. The reason for the East’s quick turnaround? The Answer of course. Allen Iverson dropped 15 of his game-high 25 points in the final nine minutes of the game, sparking the come-from-behind win.
4. 2001 NBA ALL-STAR GAME MVP SPEECH
Before the season started, Iverson recorded a rap album under the moniker Jewelz, bringing the wrath of Commissioner David Stern due to the profanity and homophobic-laced lyrics:
“The lyrics that have been attributed to Allen Iverson’s soon-to-be-released rap CD are coarse, offensive and anti-social,” Stern said at the time.
Iverson ended up changing the lyrics and downplaying the album’s release.
Even more offseason drama for Iverson involved then Sixers coach Larry Brown, who wanted Iverson gone before the season started. A deal was worked out to send AI to Detroit but Matt Geiger, who was part of the deal, refused to waive his trade kicker, so Iverson remained a Sixer, causing Brown to work out his differences with Allen.
All of this was brought up during Iverson’s All-Star MVP acceptance speech as Stern gives a playful jab about AI’s rap career and Iverson brings up Larry Brown to acknowledge their differences have been solved.
3. 2001 NBA MVP SPEECH
Leading the league in scoring at 31.1 points per night while also averaging 4.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals a game, and coupled with the Sixers having the best record in the Eastern Conference, Iverson was the runaway winner for the MVP.
He received this award before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Toronto. So what did he do that night? Score 52 of course.
2. 2001 NBA PLAYOFFS
Similar to the regular season, the playoffs belonged to AI. After getting past his longtime rival, the Indiana Pacers, in the first round, Iverson had a scoring duel with Vince Carter and the Toronto Raptors.
The series went seven games and the battle between Vince and AI lived up to the hype â€“ Iverson ended up averaging 33.7 points for the series, including a 54-point game in Game 2 and scoring 52 in Game 5.
In the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks’ Big 3 of Ray Allen, Sam Cassell and Glen Robinson, AI delivered another knockout punch as the Sixers prevailed in seven games. Iverson playing through a myriad of injuries, and dropped 46 points in a Game 6 loss and 44 in Game 7.
1. THE STEP OVER
Despite losing to the Lakers in five games, Iverson showed the world that the Sixers belonged in the series by going for 48 points, six assists, five rebounds and five steals in the Sixers’ Game 1 overtime victory. It was the only loss for the Lakers during their entire postseason run, and the only loss for L.A. during their last 20 games of the season. Shaq and Kobe proved to be too much for the Sixers and it was a bittersweet ending to an otherwise storybook season for Iverson.
Perhaps next to his crossover on Michael Jordan, Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue is his most memorable move. Such a great basketball moment.
At Philly’s Game 6 this year against Boston, in an interview with ESPN’s Lisa Salters, Iverson said, “I want to play basketball so bad” and didn’t want to use the word “retirement.” But with no NBA teams offering any interest in his services, it looks like last Wednesday night may have been the last time we see Allen Iverson on a NBA basketball court.
But let’s not get too emotional as we will always have the 2000-2001 NBA season to remind us of the AI glory days.
What do you remember about Iverson’s MVP year?
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