June 6, 2001: A day that would go down in basketball history.
It was Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals, which pitted the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers against the Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia 76ers.
The Lakers were yet to lose a game in that postseason, having swept Portland, Sacramento and 1-seed San Antonio on their way to the Finals.
Philly, on the other hand, had battled through a long Playoffs campaign, needing seven games to eliminate both Toronto and Milwaukee to earn the Sixers a spot in the championship round.
The first match-up, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, looked to be a lopsided affair early.
The Lakers raced out to a 12-point advantage, but the Sixers reeled them in to lead at halftime thanks to the hot hand of Allen Iverson, who poured in 3 first-half points.
Philadelphia point guard Iverson, whose game and personality were way oversized compared to his 6-foot frame, kept his team in front as Los Angeles came storming back to within 2 points at the end of the third before Kobe Bryant tied things up late in the final period.
When the game went to overtime, the Lakers pulled ahead. But with just under two minutes to spare, Iverson poured in seven straight points to push Philly back into the lead for good.
The last of AI’s buckets, a 16-foot jumper from the right corner, was the one that remains seared into the memories of basketball fans the world over.
Iverson squared off with Tyronn Lue in front of the Los Angeles bench, juked the Lakers backup guard with his vicious crossover, gathered, fired and found nothing but net. Bang. Philly 103, L.A. 99.
But that was just the beginning of the sequence. After contesting the shot, Lue lost his balance and fell to the floor, sitting on the sideline by Iverson’s left foot. On his way back up the court, AI pointedly stepped over Lue, staring him down as he did so, before running back on defense.
The Sixers claimed victory that night — the only time Los Angeles lost during that postseason — but ultimately lost the series in five games to hand the Lakers back-to-back titles.
“The Stepover” might be the most memorable movement of feet since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969. Iverson didn’t do it in space boots either, but the shoes he was wearing that season are indelibly linked to that iconic night.
Those sneakers were the Reebok Answer IV, Iverson’s fifth signature shoe (after the Question and three previous editions of the Answer.) That night he wore a player exclusive in a colorway that was reversed from a black/white version available to the retail market.
Featuring a leather-on-leather construction, a zip-up shroud and Reebok’s new DMX I-Pak cushioning system, the Answer IV’s OG colorway came with a white tumbled leather upper, red overlays and a grey midsole and detailing.
The Answer IV carried Iverson to the 2001 MVP trophy and that unforgettable Finals victory, and remains one of the most memorable signature shoes in history. Complex called the Answer IV the Sneaker of the Year for 2001, and it’s not hard to see why.
Now, for the first time since 2012, the Answer IV is back in its original form in the OG red, white and grey colorway.
Add one of basketball’s most memorable shoes to your collection when the Reebok Answer IV ‘OG’ releases in Men’s sizing at finishline.com on 4/15.
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