On This Date | Iverson Named 2001 MVP

by @SixersHistory's Curtis Harris

On May 15, 2001, Allen Iverson reached rarified 76ers air.

By being voted the NBA’s MVP that season, he joined Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, and Moses Malone as the only players in franchise history to earn the honor.

Each of these players had their own unique path and MVP style. 

Moses delivered the 76ers to the Promised Land in 1983 with a relentless rebounding ethic. Doctor J soared high above the rim. Wilt was a titan in winning three straight MVPs.

Iverson found his way to MVP glory by working hard below the rim.

Few players slashed, weaved, and contorted themselves in the fashion that the Answer did. Perimeter defenders were left in a daze trying to corral his seesawing crossovers. Oftentimes, he’d settle into a stepback jumper after having created a gulf of separation with the opponent spinning in a ball of confusion.

Just as often, Iverson would keep moving toward the rim. And predictably, opponents learned to throw up a stonewall at the basket to stop Iverson’s forays.

Undeterred, A.I.’s shake-and-bake dribbles transformed into aerial assaults to meet the challenge. 

Iverson, though, didn’t conduct the high-flying dunks of Erving. Instead, the Georgetown product pulled out an assortment of gliding lay-ups that allowed him to slide between defenders like a phantasm eliding the stonewall.

Fed up with this pound-for-pound embarrassment, defenders would just foul Iverson before he could begin the mid-air heroics.

That tactic, however, was just another form of poison. In 2000-01, Iverson shot 10 free throws per game, while connecting on 81.4% of his attempts. 

Despite the bumps, bruises, and beatings Iverson endured on the court, he only missed 11 games during his MVP campaign. And when he came to play, he played. To the tune of 42 minutes a night and a league-leading 31.1 points per game.

Speaking of the MVP, when Iverson was presented with the trophy on May 16 before a sold-out crowd at The Center, he left no doubt about what was up. He went off for 52 points on 21-32 shooting in a second-round playoff game against the Toronto Raptors, including a white hot 8 for 14 effort from downtown. 

The Sixers throttled Toronto, 121-88. It was the best performance of the playoffs for the MVP.

Or maybe it was the 45 points and nine assists in Game 2 of the first round versus Indiana?

Perhaps the 54-point explosion against Toronto in Game 2 of the semi-finals?

Wouldn’t blame you for picking the 44 points in Game 7 of the conference finals to defeat Milwaukee.

Oh, how about 48 points on the road in LA to beat the Lakers in overtime of Game 1 of the Finals?

MVPs have a habit of routinely stepping into greatness like that. Iverson - especially during that magical ride in 2000-01 - was no exception.

 

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