We’re several weeks into our worldwide attempt to “flatten the curve” and have been offering daily escapes into the sporting events of yesteryear through our “Filling The Void” series. We’ve looked back on the inspiring, mind-boggling, and remarkable events as well as the ordinary, daily games we’ve been missing in our lives. We here at The Turf Sports sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and being safe through these trying days. We’d also like to take a moment to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of those front-line folks keeping society going – from the medical community to those stocking grocery store shelves, delivering supplies around the country or helping us all fight this virus together in some other essential, invaluable way. You are all heroes.
Today: Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers
My boyfriend and I recently discovered that we have NBA TV (okay, his parents do but we have their login for our Apple TV). I didn’t start watching basketball until 2012, when I was dating a guy who loved it. I became obsessed and have been ever since, but I know that I missed out on so much great basketball in the past.
First, I think it’s very important for you to see the first few notes I took while watching the game, just so you can see how my mind works.
The Lake Show
I did not watch basketball during the Lakers hey-day, but the games were always on in my house because my dad is a huge basketball fan. The Lakers came into Game 1 of the 2001 Finals having won 19 straight games. Yes, 19, including the playoffs. Shaq is just dominance personified, period. He bullies Mutombo with his size and strength and gets to the rim with his beyond human speed for someone his size. I wish I could watch him play in today’s league – there’s simply no player like him. Zion Williamson is close – woooeee, I’d love to see that matchup.
I felt a pang in my heart watching a young Kobe Bryant. In this particular game, he’s quiet – he only shot 2 for 8 in the first half. But there’s no denying that he is an elite player. I wish I had watched him play more.
Rick Fox provides solid support (and my, my, my, is he handsome), along with Horace Grant, Robert Horry and Derek Fisher (who, as you read above, I didn’t realize had hair at one point). Allen Iverson was sure up for the challenge, though.
AI is The Answer
Iverson had led the Sixers to a 10-0 start this season and they finished as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, finishing with a 56-26 record. He also won the title of All-Star MVP and League MVP and after watching this game, it’s crystal clear as to why.
He is so damn quick that Derek Fisher, an excellent defender, can’t guard him. All Iverson has to do is bait the defender with a crossover, step back and create space to make his shot. He ends the first half shooting 11 of 24. At the half! Absolute insanity.
The Infamous Step Over
I knew about Iverson’s infamous step over Ty Lue even though I didn’t watch basketball at this time. It comes in overtime after the game is tied at 94 all at the end of regulation. A couple of minutes into overtime, it looks like the Lakers are going to win, but a gorgeous little scoop shot from Philadelphia’s Raja Bell brings them within 3. Shortly after that, Iverson makes two crucial free throws and a big three-ball – giving Philly the lead at 101-99 with 1:05 left to play.
Then, it happens. Ty Lue is swarming AI as he has been the entire game, truly elite defense, but AI just feels it. He makes a stepback jumper with Lue’s hand in his face, then stares Lue down as he steps over him. Ice cold.
Let me just say, Ty Lue is incredible in this game. He stifles Iverson defensively in the second half and has 5 steals in 10 minutes. But this is what he’s most well-known for (when you type in “Ty Lue” in the search bar on YouTube, the first thing that pops up is “Ty Lue step over”). That sucks, but is also one of the greatest moments in NBA history. The Sixers go on to win the game 107-101. The Lakers end up winning the series in five games, of course, but this game is one of the best I’ve ever watched.
I had a few thoughts while watching this game, since I’ve only gotten into the sport within the last eight years.
- A lot of long 2’s – players take so many shots just a couple of inches inside the 3-point line, when they could take a baby step back and score 50% more. At the beginning of the fourth quarter of this game, Philadelphia had only attempted six 3’s.
- Fouls aren’t called where they would be called today – mainly on shots where the defender doesn’t allow the shooter to land.
- There’s a lot less complaining – in games now, you see players following the refs up and down the court pleading their case, begging for a call. In this game, there are minimal complaints.
- Marv Albert was even calling players by the wrong name 19 years ago – in this game he calls Matt Geiger “Dan” Geiger.
- Jack Nicholson looks exactly the same.
Watch this game if you have a chance. It’s everything I love about basketball and everything a fan could want in a game.
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