It has been 16 years this week since the Sixers shocked the Lakers in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals and Allen Iverson stepped over Tyronn Lue.
For many Philadelphia 76ers fans, myself among them, it will go down as one of the greatest moments in team history. And even if you disagree on that fact, it still has to rank among the most notable moments in the incredible career of Allen Iverson.
I am of course talking about The Step Over.
This week, The Step Over turns 16 and even all these years later, it still puts a smile on my face and makes losing the 2001 NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers four games to one just a bit more bearable.
For those that may need a history lesson: the Sixers, led by Iverson, had clawed and scratched their way into the NBA Finals for the first time since 1983. At times during the postseason it seemed like The Answer was going to get the team to the Finals by sheer force of will, putting the Sixers on his shoulders and carrying them most of the way if he had to.
The Sixers had a date with the Lakers in Game 1 at the Staples Center in L.A. and most critics were thinking it was going to be a sweep, with the Lakers winning the title in four games. And honestly, it should have been, because while that Sixers team was good, they weren’t in the same league as a Lakers squad with Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant on the roster.
Unfortunately for L.A, someone forget to tell Allen Iverson. The Answer finished the game with 48 points and the Sixers won Game 1 in overtime 107-101.
Much of the reason it had to go to OT was because of Tyronn Lue, who came off the bench and managed to shut down Iverson in the fourth quarter.
And yes, that is the same Tyronn Lue that is currently coaching LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
Lue had managed to take Iverson out of the game and helped the Lakers almost pull off an incredible comeback win. But The Answer figured it out in overtime and got his stroke back, which led to a crucial 3-pointer with less than a minute left to play that gave the Sixers the lead permanently.
But it was what happened after that shot that had everyone talking and became one of the greatest moments in NBA Finals history.
It many ways that single moment came to define Iverson and his career. That cockiness and sense of bravado had always been a part of Iverson’s game, but with The Step Over the whole world got to see it first hand.
Iverson’s career never again reached the heights that it did during that 2000-01 season and things began to fall apart shortly afterward. Iverson would be traded to the Denver Nuggets just five years later and the Sixers wouldn’t come even close to making the Finals again.
Despite that, whenever anyone asks me what some of my favorite Sixers moments are, The Step Over almost always ranks near the top. It was such an Iverson thing to do and such a Philly thing to do at the same time.
More Sixers: Joel Embiid Reads Mean Tweets On Jimmy Kimmel
And unfortunately for Tyronn Lue, no matter how many championships he may win with Cleveland, most basketball fans are going to remember him for the Step Over more than anything else.
Happy sixteenth birthday. Hopefully the current Sixers will start giving us memories as defining and enjoyable as The Step Over someday soon.