Today marks the 21st anniversary of one of the most disrespectful moments in NBA playoff history: the stepover.
Allen Iverson scored 48 points leading the underdog Sixers not only to an improbable win over the Lakers in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals, but he also added to the audacity of the game.
The moment marked A.I.’s arrival as one of the most uniquely indomitable forces in NBA history, one of the most culturally influential people of the past 25 years, and a genuine brand that the people could feel; an infusion of street energy into the big-time ball.
Iverson had many prolific moments in that unforgettable Game 1, but his defining triumph came at the expense of former Lakers guard and current LA Clippers coach Tyronn Lue.
Allen Iverson’s Step Over Ty Lue Was So Disrespectful
Lue, who played aggressive defense on Iverson, forced The Answer into a couple of turnovers, scored a couple of times, and started getting real chatty.
While attempting to guard Iverson one-on-one late in the game, Iverson hit his vintage crossover and banged down the jumper from the right baseline over the Lakers’ pesky and provocative defender. Once the ball hit all net, Iverson turned down, talked junk, and stepped over the helpless Lue, who had stumbled to the floor.
It was pure magic captured in a real-life NBA situation. The Lakers never recovered, and Philly rode the wave of emotion to a shocking Game 1 upset, the team’s only win of the series.
An Unforgettable Moment
The memories seem like yesterday. It’s hard to accept that it’s been 21 years since his talent-defunct Sixers entered the 2001 NBA Finals against Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant’s dynasty Lakers as the biggest underdog in history.
If any player understands what LeBron James has experienced in carrying a mediocre team to great heights, it’s A.I. He did the same thing.
The NBA Top 75 Player and Hall of Famer was a one-person wrecking crew. He stood barely six feet tall and was built more like a ’70s soul crooner than an NBA player.
Still, he pushed the boundaries of what was possible when you put a tiger’s heart, an undeniable will to win, and freakish hoops skills inside an athletic savant with a chip on his shoulder the size of a boulder.
When the NBA conqueror, in all his glory, knows that he has not only toppled a seemingly invincible opponent but personally humiliated the soldiers sent to slaughter his understaffed squadron, that moment becomes a defining triumph in his ascension to immortal status.
Iverson over Lue is one of the classic smackdowns in NBA Finals history. We will never forget the time when David defeated Goliath, exposed a shook one, and made the city of Philadelphia scream his name in unison.