Beginning today, our sports-crazed folks at NBC Sports Philadelphia will share the best game they’ve ever seen in person in a daily series.
First up, a dominant playoff performance from Allen Iverson.
The 1999 NBA season was a blur. I mean really. Because of a lengthy lockout, teams played only 50 regular-season games, from February through the beginning of May.
The Sixers’ success that season came seemingly out of nowhere. They went 31-51 the previous season, but went 28-22 in 1999, good enough for a 6-seed in the East.
They drew the Magic in the first round. The teams split the first two games of the 5-game series. Game 3 was the first home playoff game for the Sixers in eight years.
I was between jobs at the moment, but I still had a press pass from my previous employer. I wanted to see this game in person. (What were they going to do, fire me again?)
If you can remember the buzz surrounding the Sixers' first playoff run with this current team two seasons ago, multiply it by 10. You’re still way off. This team had Allen Iverson. They were young and they were hungry.
Between the crowd and the Sixers' defense, the Magic had no idea what hit them. They were forced into 10 turnovers in the first quarter! It never felt, at any point, like the Sixers would loosen their stranglehold on Game 3.
The press seating is folding chairs on metal risers behind one of the baskets. Those risers were shaking from the noise, seemingly the entire game.
Allen Iverson was always dynamic, but in this game, it was as though he was fired from a missile launcher. He was everywhere, with 33 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 10 STEALS. Still an NBA record for a playoff game.
The Sixers were up only eight points after the first quarter, but it may as well have been 58. The Magic were beaten, physically and psychologically. And they knew it. The Sixers knew it. The sellout crowd knew it. And even though their season ended just 10 days later in the conference semifinals, that night was the start of a great era of Sixers basketball.
Check back tomorrow for the next memorable game on our list.