After knocking down the jumper in front of the Laker bench and legendary coach Phil Jackson, Iverson stepped over Lue, who had fallen down trying to block the shot and Iverson stared down Lue to let him know he had no shot at guarding the MVP. It was a moment frozen in time that was pure Iverson.
At his best, he was cocky, egotistical, explosive and unpredictable, but he was always 100 percent real. The Sixers lost the series in five games and Iverson would never reach another NBA Finals, but the message was sent to the rest of the basketball world that he was a force to be reckoned with.
Iverson was the most polarizing player I can remember in the NBA – even more than LeBron James. Iverson’s cornrows, tattoos from head to toe and baggy clothes forced NBA Commissioner David Stern to implement a league wide dress code. His tenuous relationship with coach Larry Brown made for plenty of front page headlines, but also highlighted one of Iverson’s many flaws – he wasn’t a very good teammate.
The Iverson-era Sixers’ offensive game plan was give ‘The Answer’ the ball and get out of the way. In today’s efficient NBA game, there would be no place for Iverson’s terrible 40 percent shooting night-after-night. Carmelo Anthony is criticized for shooting too much and he hovers around 45 percent.
What I’ll remember and everyone should is the 2001 playoff run to the Finals. He was unlike any player we have ever seen. He was himself whether you loved him or hated him, but how could you hate a player who consistently gave everything he had every single night on the court. He’s arguably the best ‘small’ player of all time and no one did more with such a slight frame.