Seventeen years ago today Allen Iverson’s Philadelphia 76ers met Shaq’s Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals. The Lakers entered the series undefeated throughout the Playoffs and were poised to break Dr. J’s & Moses Malone’s Playoff record… record set back in 1983; Shaq will tell you they(Lakers) wanted to go unbeaten. Overconfidence ran wild before the start of the ’01 Finals, no one thought AI could lead his squad to a single victory. Philadelphia didn’t have the strongest supporting cast around that season’s league MVP (Iverson) but they showed tremendous grit by stealing Game 1; unfortunately, they would still be on the receiving end of a “gentlemen’s sweep” (fun fact- the 2017 Warriors would end up breaking LA’s ‘best Playoff winning percentage’ record).
With all that said, winning percentages are not why we’re discussing Game 1 of the ’01 Finals. The real piece of history came when AI stepped over Tyronn Lue in overtime… you know the step, if you’ve forgotten… Shame on you, but watch this:
We’re shifty this Wednesday, the AI step-over still isn’t why we’re here today. Sure, it was a cultural moment, an iconic one at that, but not the point of today’s lesson. The real reason why we’re talking about June 6th centers around scoring. We’re taking about opponents scoring more than 40 points against each other in the same game – AI’s 48 points and Shaq’s 44 points were the second occurrence ever of two players scoring that much simultaneously. Fans thirst for ‘duels’ in sport and two of the biggest (and smallest) legends of the sport delivered in extraordinary fashion. Tune in later for more Today In Sneaker History stories!
Shaq wearing his Shaq Brand shoes.
Bryant in the Adidas Kobe.
AI draining a jumper in the Reebok Answer IV.