“Allen Iverson carrying the Sixers by himself to the Finals resonated with me”: Kawhi Leonard confesses to idolizing The Answer while growing up

Arjun Julka
|Published 06/04/2022

Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard grew up idolizing Sixers legend Allen Iverson, admitting the Sixers legend’s 2001 run to the NBA Finals was a big reason to do with it.

To many, the personalities of Kawhi Leonard and Allen Iverson come across as chalk and cheese. The two superstars lead opposite lives, especially when it comes to off the court. While AI is known for what we now call swag and drip, The Klaw leads a reclusive life.

However, the two account for some of the best talents to grace the NBA hardwood. Despite growing up in LA, Kawhi chose to root for the Sixers over the Lakers, courtesy of The Answer. Kawhi takes a lot of inspiration from Iverson’s gameplay, playing both ends of the floor.

“Just his gameplay. How hard he played. He played both ends, off the ball, getting steals.”

Via: Sports Illustrated

However, nothing tops AI carrying the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals for Kawhi. The Clippers superstar became a loyalist of the Sixers MVP when Iverson took his team single-handedly to the Finals, pitted against the iconic Lakers duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Also read: “Allen Iverson was never surrounded by the best”: Damian Lillard on growing up idolizing the Sixers legend and facing a similar situation in Portland

AI didn’t have much help as he ended the 2000-01 regular season with 56-wins for the Philly team, clinching the top seed in the east.

Kawhi Leonard reminiscences Allen Iverson’s iconic run in the 2000-01 NBA season.

A two-time champion, Kawhi was mesmerized by Iverson’s iconic run to the Finals in 2001. The Hall of Famer won the scoring title and MVP, averaging 31.1 PPG, 4.6 APG, and 2.5 SPG during the regular season. AI had no All-Stars as his teammate doing the heavy lifting by himself.

The eleven-time All-Star left everyone in awe as he took the Sixers to the NBA Finals to face the defending champions Lakers. The duo of Shaq and Kobe were the clear favorites over the Sixers. However, AI was not going down without a fight, putting up one of the most iconic performances in Game One.

Iverson had a 48-points performance comprising of  6-assists, 5-rebounds, and 5-steals. The Sixers superstar stunned everyone by getting the W in Game One at the Staples Center.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough for the AI and co to get past the Lakers, who won the next consecutive four games. Iverson’s display of basketball brilliance earned him a fan following, with Kawhi being one of them.

“Just seeing that team with the Sixers, bringing them to the finals, and carrying them by himself. That just resonated with me. His will not to give up.”

Also read: ‘When I was in the club, Kobe Bryant was in the gym’: Allen Iverson highlights why he fell short of the Lakers legend

A cultural icon, Iverson was a generational superstar, who inspired millions with his life both on and off the court.


About the author
Arjun Julka

Arjun Julka

Arjun Julka is a NBA author at The SportsRush. Basketball isn’t just a sport for this 26-year-old, who hails from Mumbai. He began watching the sport after stumbling upon a court in his society, helping him identify an undiscovered passion for the game of hoops. Now an ardent fan, Arjun supports Stephen Curry and the Warriors but also enjoys watching Giannis Antetokounmpo own the paint. When it comes to the GOAT debate, the TSR author feels LeBron James is yet to receive a lot of his due but cannot deny marveling at Michael Jordan’s resume.

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