Allen Iverson’s Step Over Tyronn Lue
Posted: August 19, 2018

Tyrron Lue is undoubtedly one of the most iconic coaches in the NBA, having led the Cavaliers to two straight NBA Finals in his first two years of coaching. But he has not always been looked at with such adulation, in fact many people were introduced to the man through an act of humiliation that he suffered at the hands of former Eagles icon Allen Iverson 17 years ago.

It was game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals between the 76ers and the Lakers. The play happened in the last minute of overtime, with the 76ers holding on to a two-point lead. Iverson picked up the ball on the right side with Lue tasked with the tall order of defending him. Iverson drove right towards the baseline, with Lue keeping close attention. Iverson then crossed the ball between his legs and jumped back making the famous jumpshot.

Buildup and Passage of the Play

The Lakers had won the 2000 NBA Finals, and after a few trades still looked like the team to beat during the 2000/01 season. With in-form Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant on the roster, they were an imperious foe for any team. They finished the season with a 56-26, second behind the Spurs. The 76ers meanwhile topped the Eastern Conference and faced two grueling seven game series versus the Raptors and the Bucks.

Game 1 started with a dominant Lakers taking a 21-9 lead in the first quarter but in the second quarter, Iverson, the Sixers’ main man exploded to score 30 points by the end of the first half. The Sixers were 15 points ahead by the end of the third quarter but the Lakers orchestrated a comeback. Tyronn Lue came off the bench for the fourth quarter and managed to keep Iverson quiet, for merely 3 points. Regulation time ended with the teams tied 94-94.

In overtime the teams went toe to toe and with three points left, the Lakers led by 3 points. Iverson then scored two free throws from a foul by Lue then made a three pointer on the next possession to put the 76ers up by two. With less than a minute on the clock, Iverson received possession on the right side, with Lue sticking close to him.

The 76er icon drove to the right and Lue followed him, but then Iverson crossed the ball between his legs skipped back and shot a jumper just inside the circle, to extend his scoring streak to seven. Lue, who had jumped to block Iverson’s shot stumbled back and landed at Iverson’s feet. Iverson the stepped over Lue in heavy mocking steps to complete Lue’s humiliation. Iverson would end the game with 48 points, with the Sixers holding on for the win.

Aftermath of Iverson’s Step-over

Despite winning game 1, the Sixers were outdone by the Lakers in the next four games, as the Lakers took the second of three straight NBA Championships. The two players took divergent paths, with Iverson moving on to cement his place in 76ers folklore, and Lue continuing on a journeyman career that took him to six teams in nine years. Iverson’s personal life took a dip after retirement as he struggled with alcoholism.

After retiring in 2009, Lue began his coaching career, serving on the bench for the Celtics, the Clippers and then the Cavaliers where he assumed the role of coach midway through the 2015/16 season. His coaching successes with the Cavaliers have definitely papered over the humiliation he suffered at the hands of Iverson that fateful night at the Staples Center.

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