On the 19-year anniversary of Allen Iverson’s iconic stepover on Tyronn Lue, I felt it was only right to take a minute to reflect on “The Answer’s” 2001 NBA Finals performance. While most people tend to focus only on the herculean efforts of Iverson during the team’s lone upset victory, AI was genuinely dominant throughout the entire series.
Across five games, Iverson recorded a stat line of 35.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. He averaged more points per game than both Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant and led all participants in total minutes played (239). Iverson’s surreal 48 point performance in game one still ranks as the sixth most points scored in an NBA Finals game.
Despite winning just one game in the series, Iverson led all scorers in four out of the five total games played. He scored 48 points in game one, 35 in games three and four, and 37 points in game five. Even in his “worst” game (game two), Iverson still scored a team-high 23 points.
It’s no secret that Iverson lacked help during his time as a 76er, and the 2001 Finals were no exception. The second-best player on the team was a 34-year-old Dikembe Mutumbo, and guys like Raja Bell and Eric Snow were being expected to play major roles. Considering the Los Angeles Lakers had Kobe Bryant, prime Shaquille O’Neal, Derek Fisher, and Robert Horry, it was never much of a fair fight.
It was a borderline miracle the Sixers were even in the Finals to begin with. Iverson had to score 723 total points during the 2001 playoffs just to get the team there, the fourth most points ever scored during a playoff run in league history (behind Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Hakeem Olajuwon).
Everybody knows Iverson was the driving factor behind the Sixers’ success in the early 2000s, I’m likely beating a dead horse with this argument. If the Sixers hadn’t been matched up against one of the greatest duos in NBA history (Shaq and Kobe), Iverson almost surely would’ve captured a world championship and a Finals MVP.
Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports