In 2001, the Lakers used this forgotten NBA player in order to try and stop Allen Iverson in the Finals, and it’s not Tyronn Lue
In his prime, Allen Iverson was a force to be reckoned with. At just 5’11” (on a good day), the guard found every way in the world to punish defenses. And during the 2001 NBA Finals, the Lakers had to find a way to deal with his onslaught.
The then MVP wasn’t going to be easy to deal with by any stretch of the imagination. But, it seems Phil Jackson had a plan. And it involved one of their undrafted rookies.
What we’re about to tell you may seem (absolutely is) unorthodox. But hey, the ways of the Zen Master have always been strange.
Let’s get into it.
Phil Jackson asked Mike Penberthy to act as Allen Iverson during scrimmages
No, we’re not joking. This is serious.
Mike Penberthy was a 6’3” guard, who came out of Master’s University, a private Christian school in the NAIA.
He was in the league for about two seasons, and came off the bench for 53 of his 56 games with the Lakers, before heading off to play overseas.
During his time in Los Angeles though, his biggest contribution may not have even been in the Staples Center in front of fans. In his book ‘Three Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty’, Jeff Pearlman said this on the subject.
“‘Mike,’ Jackson said on the first day of Iverson 101, ‘I’m giving you the green light. Go out there and gun.’ Penberthy was a whirling dervish of energy and emotion. All the discipline of the triangle could be — needed to be — set aside. Day after day, he beat up on [starting point guard Derek] Fisher, beat up on [Tyronn] Lue, pulled up on Kobe and fired.”
Allen Iverson‘s junior year state championship run in 1993!
“I wasn’t a point guard, I was a killer.” 🗣 pic.twitter.com/1ZbzjRyvWX
— Timeless Sports (@timelesssports_) September 7, 2021
He may have been an unnamed, forgotten rookie. But, during those practice sessions, it almost seems like he was their most important player.
Perhaps it’s time we gave Mike Penberthy some credit for the Lakers winning the 2001 NBA championship.