On May 15th in 2001, Philadelphia 76ers' guard Allen Iverson was named league MVP for the 2000-01 season.
He totalled 1,121 points and received 93 of a possible 124 first-place votes, finishing ahead of Tim Duncan (706 points, 18 first-place votes) and Shaquille O'Neal (578 votes, five first-place votes).
Iverson became the fourth player (Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, and Moses Malone) in franchise history and the first since Malone in 1983 to receive the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.
"I had no space for error. But I never stopped and worked on all the things people said I couldn't do and now I'm the MVP of the league. It's something I always wanted," Iverson said after receiving the award.
Allen Iverson's 2000-01 MVP season was simply incredible. 🔥#MVPMondays pic.twitter.com/vMCKvPhhsU- NBA TV (@NBATV) March 4, 2019
Playing 71 games in the season, he averaged 31.1 points (led the league), 4.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.5 steals (led the league) in 42.0 minutes (led the league). Thus, becoming the first player since Michael Jordan in 1992-93 to lead the league in points and steals per game.
On the back of those numbers, he led the 76ers to a Conference-best 56 wins, the most since 1985, and their first Atlantic Division title since 1990.
Iverson was presented the Maurice Podoloff Trophy a day later in front of the 76ers fans at the First Union Center in Philadelphia and he put on a show. He went off for 52 points (21-32 FGs; 8-14 3Ps) while also recording seven assists and four steals in a blowout 121-88 Game 5 win against the Toronto Raptors.
This was his second 50-point game of the series after he had dropped 54 in Game 2 of the series. Iverson would eventually lead the 76ers past the Raptors in seven games to the franchise's first Conference Finals since 1985.
In the Conference Finals, he averaged 30.5 points, 6.8 assists, and 2.2 steals in six games against the Bucks as he led the 76ers to their first Finals appearance since 1983.
In the Finals, the Philadelphia franchise was up against a Los Angeles Lakers squad, led by O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, that had won 19 straight including a 11-0 playoff run. But behind a spirited 48 points from Iverson, the 76ers pulled off an upset overtime win, handing the Lakers their first and only defeat of the 2001 postseason.
Other notable events from May 15th
- In 1982, the Los Angeles Lakers finished off a sweep of the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Finals. Thus, they became the first team in NBA playoff history to sweep back-to-back best-of-7 series.
- In 1984, Magic Johnson would set the NBA Playoff single-game record of 24 assists in a 118-102 Game 2 win over the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals. John Stockton would later tie that number against the Lakers in 1988.
- In 1995, former NBA stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Vern Mikkelsen, former NBA coach John Kundla and former NBA referee Earl Strom were among seven individuals inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Notable playoff eliminations from May 15th
- In 2016, Toronto Raptors defeated the Miami Heat 116-89 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, thus, advancing to the first Conference Finals in franchise history.
- In 2015, Golden State Warriors eliminated the Memphis Grizzlies with a 108-95 Game 6 win in Conference Semifinals. Thus, booking the franchise's first Conference Finals appearance since 1976.
- In 2013, Memphis Grizzlies eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder 88-84 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Thus, booking the franchise's first-ever Conference Finals appearance.
- In 2003, San Antonio Spurs eliminated the 3-time defending champions in the Los Angeles Lakers with a 110-82 Game 6 win in the Western Conference Semifinals.
- In 2002, the New Jersey Nets defeated the Charlotte Hornets 103-95 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Thus, booking the franchise's first-ever Conference Finals appearance since joining the NBA with the merger in 1976.
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