Today in Philly Sports History: Sixers Beat Bucks to Advance to Finals, 2001

Today in Philly Sports History: Sixers Beat Bucks to Advance to Finals, 2001

After what has been, to say the least, a somewhat trying season for Allen Iverson--a season in which everything from his current abilities, to his desire to win, and even to his overall basketball legacy has been questioned--it's important, as a fictional mobster wiser than myself once said, to remember the times that were good. And it's hard to find a time much better for Sixer fans in the Iverson era than Game 7 of the 2001 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. With the series with the Milwaukee Bucks knotted at 3-3, the 2001 MVP poured in 44 points (three points off Sam Jones's playoff record for a game seven) to go with seven assists, six boards and a pair of steals, leading the Sixers, in front of a riotous First Union Center crowd, to their first trip to the NBA finals since they took home the title in 1983--and somewhat needless to say, their last trip there to date.

Iverson was far from the only important factor in the team's decisive 108-91 victory, however. Mid-season acquisition and Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo also had arguably his finest game of the playoffs, going for a near 20-20 with his 23 points and 19 boards, and throwing in seven blocks just for the hell of it. Sixth Man of the Year (and current Sixers assistant coach) Aaron McKie, starting this time out, added a double-double with his ten points and 13 assists, as did veteran forward Tyrone Hill, who went for 11 points and ten rebounds. Most unexpected, however, were the contributions of the then-unknown rookie Raja Bell, who got ten off the bench in the first half--twice as many points as he scored the entire regular season. The Bucks' big three of Ray Allen, Sam Cassell and Glenn Robinson all performed decently, scoring in the 20s, but aside from them and bench scorer Tim Thomas, no one else on the Bucks added more than four points.

Thanks to the impressively dedicated contributions of user Pacho17, Game 7 can now be viewed in its entirety (well, its entirety in 11 separate parts) on YouTube, but some highlights just from watching the last part, embedded above:

  • Iverson doing his trademarked ear-cupping gesture as he gets taken out of the game, then emotionally embracing Larry Brown and Tyrone Hill.
  • Then-Bucks, Now-Nuggets coach George Karl actually having a decent amount of hair and looking remarkably similar to Frasier Crane. 
  • Mama Iverson: "I'm so proud of you!"
  • Matt Cord: "Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for the Milwaukee Bucks, on a spectacular playoff run!" He might not have intended it to sound so boastfully sarcastic, but no way could he have honestly expected the crowd to cheer.
  • Dike and AI hoisting the Eastern Conference Championship trophy together (despite the six foot difference in height between the two), to "BEAT! L! A!" chants in the background.

Gonna be tough to top that anytime soon.

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Elton Brand is back with the Sixers, albeit not on the court.

The Sixers agreed with the former NBA forward to name Brand Player Development Consultant. In a press release, the team said Brand will be working with Sixers players in 'every facet of their on- and off-court development' while also working in the front office.

“We are extremely excited to bring Elton Brand back into the organization where he will be a valuable resource to our young and developing team," Bryan Colangelo said in the release. "Elton’s leadership and character displayed throughout his playing career as a player align perfectly with our vision, direction and culture of this basketball team, coaching staff and management group."

Brand retired during training camp after 17 NBA seasons, including five with the Sixers over two stints. The 6-foot-8 forward came out of retirement last season to provide a veteran presence for the Sixers and eventually played in 17 games when the team was snakebitten by injuries. 

He will now continue to be an influence on the Sixers' young core thanks to his new role with the basketball operations department.

No. 1 Villanova vs. La Salle: Wildcats look to stay hot vs. Explorers at Palestra

No. 1 Villanova vs. La Salle: Wildcats look to stay hot vs. Explorers at Palestra

No. 1 Villanova (8-0) at La Salle (4-2) 
7 p.m. at The Palestra

Villanova, now the top-ranked team in the country, travels to the Palestra on Tuesday night for another Big 5 game, this one against La Salle (the home team), which has won three straight games.

Let's get you ready for the matchup:

Last time out
La Salle beat Bucknell, 83-73, on Saturday.

Villanova won, 88-47, over Saint Joseph’s.

Scouting report
Villanova, which is undefeated, has become the No. 1 team in the country after beating St. Joe’s handily on Saturday. Josh Hart, who had a triple-double in the game, has been a major reason for the Wildcats' success so far this season. The senior is averaging 17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. 

La Salle has won three games in a row after losing at the buzzer to Texas Southern on its homecoming game. Against Bucknell, Jordan Price had 20 points, while B.J. Johnson had 22. Johnson, a transfer from Syracuse, leads the team in scoring with 18.7 points per game.

What it means
Villanova is the best in the country right now, and it moved up to No. 1 after Kentucky lost to UCLA. Another win will give the Wildcats good momentum heading into their Saturday matchup with No. 23 Notre Dame. A victory would also extend Villanova's all-time record Big 5 winning streak to 16 games.

La Salle head coach John Gianinni could potentially be on the hot seat if the Explorers suffer another poor season. A win against the defending national champions would alleviate any chatter about his status.

Series history
This is the first and only time the Big 5 rivals will meet this season. Jay Wright is 13-2 all-time against the Explorers, and his group blew them out last season, 76-47.

What’s next?
La Salle will head to Miami for the Hoophall Miami Invitational to take on Georgetown this Saturday at the American Airlines Arena.

Villanova travels to Newark, New Jersey, to meet No. 23 Notre Dame at the Prudential Center.