All-Star Game Notebook
Undersized Iverson answers with determination
Posted: Sunday February 13, 2000 11:43 PM
By Jennifer A. Cooper, CNNSI.com
OAKLAND -- It's not a fair matchup by any stretch of the imagination. Shaquille O'Neal is 7-foot-1, and the Lakers' media guide lists him at 325 pounds. Allen Iverson is an even six feet and weighs 165. But Iverson didn't let that stop him.
O'Neal easily blocked an Iverson jumper early in the first quarter, thinking it would discourage the little guy from venturing too far into the paint. It didn't work. The next time Iverson touched the ball, he not only ventured into the lane, he put in a pretty wraparound lay-up, got fouled and completed the three-point play.
In the second quarter, it happened again. O'Neal blocked another Iverson shot, and the Sixers guard came right back by hitting a running jumper on his team's next possession.
After the game, East coach Jeff Van Gundy had some words of praise for the undersized guard. "I love his courage," Van Gundy said. "The courage to go inside and take hits, that's really an admirable trait for someone his size."
So even though his effort was part of a losing cause, Iverson proved to quite a few people that he won't back down.
You mean that was it?After all the hoopla, Karl Malone played three minutes and missed the only shot he took.
West coach Phil Jackson said Malone told him that was all he wanted out of the game. "Karl was programmed before he came to the ballgame with the possibility of some injuries he had," Jackson said. "And I asked him after he made his first run if he was done for the day, and he said, 'Yeah, let me sit this one out; I've had a good time, and I'll sit it out from here.'"
It looks like the fans showed pretty good judgment in not voting him in as a starter. They definitely got more for their money in Tim Duncan (24 points, 14 rebounds) and Kevin Garnett (24 points, 10 rebounds).
Just shut up and playA couple of years ago, Gary Payton had some nice things to say about Iverson, including, "That's my boy!" These days, Payton is even more impressed with the Sixers guard.
Payton says Iverson has improved because he's matured. "He shut his mouth and is playing basketball," the Sonics guard said.
As for Iverson's chances of leading the Sixers to an NBA title any time soon, Payton said he could see Iverson celebrating a championship, but he'll need help. "I can't put all that on Allen -- he's not Michael Jordan. It's hard to say if they could win a championship, but with him as a catalyst, they probably could."
Hallelujah! It's raining bearsWith two and a half minutes left in the game, it started raining NBA-style Beanie Babies in the Arena. Wearing tiny parachutes, 100 or so of the stuffed creatures slowly fell out of the rafters.
The ensuing scramble wasn't nearly as rough-and-tumble as it could have been, although one woman did fall onto me while trying to grab one.
She needn't have bothered. The one she was after turned out to be the Cleveland Cavaliers edition.