No year was as great as 2001.
Iverson, who mashed hip-hop culture and hoops like no player before him, was perhaps at his peak in his fifth NBA season. He averaged 31.1 points, was the MVP of the All-Star game and propped an entire franchise on his 6-foot frame all the way to the finals.
Led by coach Larry Brown, the Sixers needed Game 7 wins in consecutive series for the right to play the Lakers. Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers swept their way through the postseason before Game 1 in LA.
The 76ers have won only one playoff series in the past 10 years and had a bitter parting with Iverson in 2006. They patched up their differences and he returned three years later.
For Iverson, the points and the big games aren’t what he remembers most about 2001.
“My teammates. The love I had for them,” he said. “All of us had the same goal. It wasn’t the whole thing of us making it to the finals. It was just the partnership we had with each other. It was just the fact that we gave the city of Philadelphia everything we had every night. We weren’t the most talented team ever, but we competed night in and night out. That’s everything to me.”
Ten years later, O’Neal recently retired and Iverson wants back in. He’s been dogged by rumors of personal problems _ his wife filed for divorce and a daughter battled serious health problems _ but Iverson said his life these days is great.
All that’s missing is basketball.
“The only thing that I give a damn about is that the people that care about me know that I’m all right,” he said. “All I want is my real fans to know I’m fine, my wife is fine, my kids are fine. I’m fine and I’m looking forward to getting back on a team and being productive like I have been my whole career.”
Follow Dan Gelston on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APgelston
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