Although many people know him for his famous practice rant, the most memorable moment of Allen Iverson’s career happened just over 11 months earlier.
It was June 6, 2001, as the Philadelphia 76ers were opening The NBA Finals on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Sixers weren't given much of a chance, especially on the road against a team that was still undefeated in the postseason featuring Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal (both in the prime of their careers).
Allen Iverson showed up, scoring 48 points, along with 6 assists and 5 steals, while playing 52 minutes. Although he took 41 shots, it was a hell of performance because they needed that from him because of the offensive limitation on his team. His biggest support was a veteran Dikembe Mutombo specialized for defensive assignments.
He scored 7 crucial points in overtime, which included the world wide hear of step over on Tyronn Lue, after hitting a hard jumper with 48 seconds to go and putting his team up 103-99 and leading them to the win.
His former teammate Aaron McKie, who played with him in Philadelphia for eight seasons, recalled one of the signature moments of Iverson’s career in a post-induction piece in The Players Tribune. “Allen is a student of the game. People don’t understand that. Everyone knows Allen would read the newspaper, and that he and Phil Jasner, the Daily News columnist who was usually critical of him, had a special relationship. But Allen also studied the game, too. Allen read the comments — all the comments.
Iverson knew going into games which people had said they were going to stop him, and he’d have done his research on how to destroy them. He relished that. If you talked to the press about Allen before a game, that put a target on your back. Take Game 1 of the Finals in 2001. Allen got all the pregame notes and clips, read how different guys were playing and what they were saying about him. He knew what to prepare for. He knew that the Lakers were going to use Tyronn Lue to try to shut him down. Allen took exception to that sort of thing. He’d say, “You know what? I’m going to destroy this motherf***er.”
Many discredited this performance from “The Answer” because the 76ers would went on to lose the next 4 games but Iverson's game one performance – capped off by his emphatic step over Tyronn Lue – was truly one for the ages.