Allen Iverson is undoubtedly in the conversation of the best NBA players to have never won an NBA championship. The former Philadelphia 76ers guard is in a crowded field that also includes Elgin Baylor, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, and Patrick Ewing.
Iverson came close. His Sixers reached the 2001 NBA Finals but fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in Iverson’s lone trip to the championship round. Recently, Iverson spoke with former NBA player Vernon Maxwell and told him he wished he never got to the NBA Finals.
Allen Iverson and the 76ers lost to Kobe, Shaq, and the Lakers in the 2001 Finals
Getting to the 2001 NBA Finals was no fluke for Iverson and the Sixers. The point guard out of Georgetown was named the league’s MVP, and he guided Philly to the best record in the Eastern Conference at 56-26. Iverson also led the league in scoring for the second time in three years, finishing with a 31.1 points-per-game average.
Iverson showed the world he could score with the best of them in Game 1 of the Finals, pouring in a game-high 48 points. The 76ers went into LA and stole the series opener, winning 107-101.
Things didn’t go so well after that, as the Lakers won the next four to close out the series in five games. Speaking to Maxwell on the MaXed Out podcast, Iverson admitted losing in the Finals hurt him so much that he wished he never got there.
“When it was over, I was glad,” he told Maxwell. “That’s how beat up I was.”
“If I could do it all over again, honestly, I would rather not even get there than to not win it. Honestly, to get there and not win it, it hurt. It hurt. You get all the way to the Super Bowl. You’re the Patriots, and you won every game. Then that one game that matters the most, and it’s not yours.”Allen Iverson
“Great experience. It did a lot for the city. Did a lot for me, but for me, it was tough. Obviously, that was the last time that I would get there.”
Iverson said it was Shaq, not Kobe, that did the most damage
The Lakers proved to be too much for the 76ers, especially with O’Neal and Bryant. While those two gave nightmares to their opponents, Iverson said Philadelphia was hurt more by Shaq than Kobe in that series.
“We ran into Mamba and Shaq, but it was Shaq that was the deciding factor,” Iverson said. “We could not do nothing with him. The crazy part about it is you talk about the job Dikembe (Mutombo) did on him. People were saying he did a good job, but that’s how dominant (Shaq) was.
“You know what I mean? That’s how dominant Diesel was. Thirty-something (points) and 15 (rebounds) is hard to deal with. Then it’s tough when he’s making free throws, too.
“We got beat by a better team. We ran into Kobe and Shaq in their prime. Kobe may not have had a crazy series, but in spurts, he gave us just enough. Their role players stepped up and did their work.”