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.