55 seconds into his debut performance at the Madison Square Garden, Allen Iverson was fouled by Charlie Ward. The perfect opportunity for a 21-year-old rookie to get his first bucket in the Mecca of basketball, that the Sixers‘ point guard failed to utilize. It was a cold start to what ended up being one of the best debut performances in “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
Coming into their first season matchup against the Knicks, the 76ers were 2-3 and were looking to extend a two-game winning streak after beating the Suns by 17. Five games into the season, Iverson was already the team’s leading scorer but was coming off a horrific 6-point performance against Phoenix. The young guard was ready for a bounce-back performance at the MSG.
After failing to get on a scoreboard from the free-throw line, the Answer missed three consecutive shots before finally dropping his first bucket at the Mecca. He hit a 24-feet long-range jumper, adding one more layup for a five-point first-quarter performance. After replicating his output in the second quarter, A.I. went to the locker room with 10 points to his name, as the 76ers were up by three.
Think of the half time break as Iverson’s tipping point, as what he did in the next 24 minutes of the contest enters the sphere of historical. The Answer had a 25 point second half outing, going 6-for-10 from the floor, 4-for-5 from behind the line, and 9-for-13 from the charity stripe, 4 of which came in the final 90 seconds of the contest, to seal the Sixers’ third win of the season.
“When my jumper is on, I can pretty much do whatever I want. But when the jumper is on, it is hard to stop anybody in this league.”Allen Iverson
Iverson finished the game with 35 points on .526 shooting. He also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists, while fouling out both Charlie Ward and Scott Brooks. The Knicks tried it all, but there was no answer for the Answer that night.
“If you’re going to be a good basketball player, you’ve got to showcase your talents in New York.” Iverson did it in his debut performance, which to this day, remains one of the greatest first-time outings the MSG has ever witnessed.