Welcome back to “The Big Three-Oh!” I’m turning 30 at the end of July and to celebrate, I am counting down my best/favorite sports moments in my lifetime. If you missed the kickoff post, check it out for the background for the series. A litte more background for you all, I made this list a few days ago. I compiled a number of moments/plays and ranked the 30 best. Coming into today’s post, I was thinking in the lens of 2020. I was trying to remember why I made this #29. The team that is about to be highlighted did not win a championship and the player who made the play has only seen his basketball stock value fall thanks to analytics. But then I watched the below highlight reel. I’m starting the video at the iconic play but I suggest watching the entire thing. At #29 comes Allen Iverson, the 2001 Philadelphia 76ers, and The Step Over.
#29 – Allen Iverson & the 2001 76ers Shock Kobe & Shaq’s Lakers in Game 1 of the Finals
Oh boy. The 2001 Sixers are the pinnacle of the Allen Iverson era and this game was the pinnacle of this team’s run. Quite literally as the Lakers would storm back to win the next four games in the second of three-striaght titles.
As I mentioned, analytics haven’t been very kind to Iverson and there was also that whole nearly going broke saga for AI. For me though, Iverson took the reigns from following MJ and the Bulls to being this electrifying figurehead for the Sixers and my basketball fandom as a whole. Even though this was their only trip to even the Eastern Conference Finals, the 2001 run was something that resonated with a generation.
To this date, there a few in-arena TV timeout gimmicks that rival introducing Allen Iverson. The highlight package that’s always capped off with “The Step Over” to PA Announcer Matt Cord’s “AND NOW A SIX FOOT GUARD FROOOOMMMM GEORGETOWN…. ALLLLEEEEEENNNNN IIIIIIIVERSOOOOOONNNNNNN” (you all just heard him saying it, don’t lie), it still gives me chills.
Basketball has always the one sport of the four North American majors that I didn’t play and the NBA was one I never really followed until high school. College Basketball and March Maddness always grabbed my basketball attention until the NBA Playoffs started, and even then, it was only really the Sixers I cared about until The Finals. Sure, I knew about the big names even if they skipped college (ie: LeBron, Dwight Howard), and I even made a “current events” project in 5th grade (the next fall) about MJ going the Wizards. However, without this team and the run they made, the NBA may have just gone by the wayside for a few years. To get that much run out of a team that didn’t win a title gets them on to the list and 29th seems like a good spot for them.
Today’s Instragram Athlete
Nine years ago to count down the days until my 21st birthday, I posted a picture of athletes wearing the cooresponding number of day left to Facebook. While I did not have an Instagram account back in 2011, I have one now so I’ll be revisiting this idea in conjuncture with Top 30 Sports Moments. FOLLOW MY INSTAGRAM SO YOU DON’T MISS IT
The late, great Ray Emery takes #29 here. His first stint with the Flyers was cut short because of a bone infection but he returned to Philly after winning the Stanley Cup with Blackhawks in 2013. His two years as the Flyers’ back-up goalie weren’t the greatest we’d see as Michael Neuvirth quickly became a stellar partner to Steve Mason. Emery was, by all accounts, one of the better locker room guys out there. I’m still convinced his brawl with Braden Holtby in 2013 electrified the Flyers from their terrible start to the season into a playoff position come spring 2014.Follow @geordo9