Ty Lue talks about the moment where Allen Iverson stepped over him in the 2001 NBA Finals and claims that series saved his career.
The NBA has seen a plethora of flashy ball-handlers over the course of the 70+ years since the league’s inception. Legends such as Bob Cousy and Pistol Pete paved the way for guys like Allen Iverson and Jason Williams to come forth and provide mixtape-worthy highlights on a nightly basis by treating the ball like a yo-yo on a string.
Allen Iverson burst onto the scene as a feisty 6’0 shooting guard (he was listed at 6’0 but he was surely no taller than 5’10) who looked to put any and everybody on skates. His most famous crossover early on in his career would most definitely be the one he had on Michael Jordan. A simple yet shifty double crossover into a pull up J on the elbow to shake off the 9x All-Defense guard.
Allen Iverson would go on to become a lethal scorer along with dropping opposing defending to the ground, winning a scoring title 4x in his career. He would carry a lackluster 2000-2001 Philadelphia 76ers squad to the Finals off the back of this scoring and would even steal a game from the mighty Los Angeles Lakers.
Allen Iverson’s stepover saved Ty Lue’s career in a way.
24-year-old Tyronn Lue was on the verge of getting cut from the final Lakers roster that would enter the postseason in 2001. However, on the off chance that the Sixers made the NBA Finals, Phil Jackson and the coaching staff decided to keep Ty Lue on the roster to help Shadow Allen Iverson as Lue was quick on his feet and mobile.
Luck would be in Ty Lue’s favor as the Philly’s grueling 7-game series against the Milwaukee Bucks in the ECF led to the Iverson led team reaching the Finals for the first time in over 15 years. This pretty much guaranteed a role for Ty Lue on the biggest stage of all: the NBA Finals.
20 years ago today…
Allen Iverson stepped over Ty Lue 👀pic.twitter.com/oMHFozLEgY
— The Association (@association) June 6, 2021
“Iverson making it to the NBA Finals saved my career. Without Iverson, there probably wouldn’t be me. If Milwaukee would have beat Philly, I wouldn’t have played. So that could have possibly been my last year in the NBA. People don’t understand that,” said the Clippers head coach.
Allen Iverson did not actually break Ty Lue’s ankles.
Looking closely at the now iconic clip, Allen Iverson did not actually cause Ty Lue to take a seat on the hardwood. The pullback from AI led to a solid contest from Lue and the way he lunged forward to put a hand in AI’s face is what led to him stumbling to the ground.
“The funny part is that people think he crossed me over, I fell over and then he stepped. I contested his shot and I’m walking backwards and I step on his foot and I fall. Then he stepped over me. And they make a big deal out of it.”
It worked out in the end for Ty Lue’s playing career as he would go on to sign a 2-year deal worth $3.6 million with the Washington Wizards the following year and play with Michael Jordan in the twilight of his career.