Kobe adds postgame insult to Iverson's injuries
Updated: Saturday June 16, 2001 8:45 AM
By Marty Burns, Sports Illustrated
PHILADELPHIA -- All things considered, Allen Iverson would rather have been anywhere else in Philadelphia.
That's how the Sixers star guard must have been feeling as he walked into the postgame news conference, with his mom and kids and several friends in tow, after his team's loss in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Friday night.
It was bad enough for Iverson that he was going to have to talk about how the Lakers steamrolled his team en route to the NBA championship. To make matters worse, he was halfway in the room when Lakers guard Kobe Bryant suddenly burst in through a side entrance and beat him to the dais.
Bryant, wearing an NBA championship cap and cradling the championship trophy, didn't seem to notice Iverson standing in the middle of the room. Iverson wasn't about to wait around to find out what was going to happen next. As abruptly as a crossover dribble, he turned and walked out as his mom, Ann, dressed in her white Sixers No. 3 jersey, and their procession trailed somberly behind.
As a result of this breakdown in communications, there would be no answers from The Answer about his first NBA Finals. Apparently upset over being trumped by Bryant, Iverson left the building without speaking to reporters. A member of Iverson's entourage, however, took a moment to scold an NBA public relations official for having Kobe go on the dais first.
For Iverson, it was the second time in the same night the 22-year-old Bryant had cut him off at the pass. Late in the first quarter, he picked up his third foul when he collided with Kobe while trying to get a loose ball at the top of the circle. Bryant got a trip to the free-throw line, while Iverson got a trip to the bench and a case of sore ribs.
When he returned seconds later, he didn't look quite the same. Iverson made only two of his next eight shots as L.A. took command of the game and built a lead it would not relinquish. Though he would finish with a game-high 37 points, he made just 14 of 32 shots.
"It was obvious Allen was hurting," Sixers guard Eric Snow said. "Just looking at his demeanor and his body language ... but yet he didn't complain and make excuses, because we haven't done that all season."
Not that it would have mattered much anyway. With Derek Fisher sticking to him like lint, and Shaquille O'Neal patrolling the lane, Iverson wasn't going to find much room against the Lakers. After his 48-point explosion in Game 1, L.A.'s team defense kept him under wraps for the most part. Iverson averaged 35.6 points, but had to take a ton of shots to do it.
Still, Iverson showed he was a fierce competitor by refusing to let his team quit. Sixers head coach Larry Brown said his 6-foot superstar even thought he had broken his ribs on the Bryant collision, but refused to sit out.
"It's what that kid's about. He had a phenomenal year," Brown said.
"I think being in this environment on this stage, people really recognize what an unbelievable competitor he is and what a great player he is. We would never have been in this position had it not been for his unbelievable play throughout the whole year."
Too bad Iverson didn't stick around Friday night to talk about it.