- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2001

When Philadelphia 76ers reserve guard Aaron McKie was named the league's top sixth man earlier this month, teammate Eric Snow said McKie meant more to the 76ers than that.
"After Allen [Iverson], he's the next best player on the team, period," Snow said.
Right now, that sounds pretty plausible. Since being inserted in the starting lineup in place of Snow in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, McKie has demonstrated just how valuable he is. In five games as a starter, he has averaged 20.2 points and is shooting 54 percent.
"I don't think anybody in any of these series has had more consistency than this kid," said 76ers coach Larry Brown, who yesterday was named the league's top coach. "And when you consider the circumstances under which he's been asked to step up under with George [Lynch]'s injury and Eric's situation I think it's incredible. I think he's showing people why he's the top sixth man this year."
McKie's most recent performance was typical of how he's contributed to the 76ers, who will try to go up 2-0 tonight when they play host to the Milwaukee Bucks in their best-of-7 series.
In two previous series, the 76ers, the East's top seed, dropped the opening game, lost home-court advantage and had to dig out of an early hole.
In the first quarter Tuesday, Iverson shot 0-for-9 from the floor and was held scoreless. However, McKie picked up the slack by hitting two 3-pointers and scoring eight points to keep the Sixers within striking distance after one quarter. Iverson reverted to form the rest of the way, scored 34 points and helped the Sixers to a 93-85 win. McKie finished with 23 points and five assists.
Before that, McKie shined for the 76ers in their Game 7 victory over the Toronto Raptors. With attention focused on Iverson's injuries and Vince Carter's decision to pick up his degree from the University of North Carolina the morning of the game, McKie scored 22 points and helped play clutch defense on Carter as the Sixers advanced.
"My philosophy has always been to do whatever I'm asked to do," McKie said. "If I'm needed to play defense at the time, that's what I'll do. If we need for me to play point to get Allen off the ball, then that's what I'll do. I'm not the kind of guy who plays the game for headlines. I don't need a lot of attention. The attention comes when we win games and move on."
Although McKie is a 6-foot-5 guard, Brown has enough confidence in him to use him extensively against the other team's small forward when the circumstances call for it.
Since Lynch went down, Brown has started second-year forward Jumaine Jones. Jones was used sparingly during the regular season and is not well versed on the nuances of Brown's defenses. As a result, if Jones struggles, Brown uses three guards with McKie guarding the other team's small forward.
"I learned the importance of being able to do stuff like that when I went to Temple," McKie said. "Doing whatever it takes to win was all that mattered. That's something that never changes."
As valuable as he has been for the 76ers, McKie probably played his most important role off the court. McKie is Iverson's best friend on the team. When Iverson and Brown engaged in a public feud last summer that carried over into training camp, it was McKie who often took Iverson aside, smoothed things out and helped him grasp what Brown was trying to convey about being a leader.
McKie won't say much about his role. But others on the team will.
"Aaron was there big time for Allen," Snow said. "Anyone will tell you that except Aaron."


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