Just months before the 2000-01 NBA season kicked off for the Philadelphia 76ers, Allen Iverson and Larry Brown had reached an impasse. After three seasons of Brown coaching the Philadelphia 76ers, the two stubborn bulldogs needed a change. Their experiment had failed. Brown, the basketball purist, grew tired of Iverson’s antics, both on the court and off. Someone had to go.
“It would be extremely hard,” Iverson said to the Philadelphia Inquirer back in 2000 regarding his willingness to return to the toxic situation he and Brown created. “It would be crazy to say that everything would be peaches and cream, because it’s not. It’s going to be tough going there and acting like nothing has happened.”
The upcoming season — should Iverson survive the summer of trade rumors — would surely be a disaster, but that’s what the 76ers were accustomed too.
But it wasn’t.
Through the intervention of the basketball gods and former team president Pat Croce, Iverson and Brown committed to each other in pursuit of a championship. The 76ers entered the season with their franchise player focused and a head coach ready to unleash his new best friend on the NBA. What followed was a spectacular, improbable journey which saw the 76ers claim the number one seed in the Eastern Conference (56-26 record), survive two game sevens and ultimately stand up to the mighty Los Angeles Lakers for the right to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.
13 years later, that season still stands as one of the most exciting in franchise history, packed with unbelievable moments and last minute, hold-your-breath excitement. This season solidified Iverson’s place in Philadelphia lore. This team embodied not only their city, but the mindset of their relentless head coach.
Let’s take a look back at the unlikely run of the 2000-01 Philadelphia 76ers.