‘It Was One After Another. It Was Like They Were Taking Turns’

The 2017 NFL season had its fair share of surprises, such as the Patriots winning their 5th Super Bowl in a row and the Eagles winning their first ever. But one thing that was almost guaranteed to happen was injuries. With more than 1,000 players on each team, injuries are inevitable.

During the 2000s, Allen Iverson and Vince Carter were two of the greatest players in the NBA. Both AI and Vinceanity were able to score at will, completely enthralling their audiences. Carter could rise and dunk on anybody in his peak. Iverson had the ability to shrug off any defender and hit shots from anywhere around the court. In the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals, Iverson and Carter faced off in one of the greatest NBA playoff battles ever.

“Allen drops 54, Vince returns and drops 50; it was one after the other, one after the other. In an NBA interview, Stephen A. Smith stated, “It seemed like they were taking turns.”

In a series that went the distance, Iverson and Carter exchanged blows.

Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors is guarded by Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers during a 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals game.

Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors is guarded by Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers during a 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals game. During a 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals game, Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers guards Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors. | Dave Sandford /Getty Images

Iverson led Philadelphia to a 56-26 record and the Eastern Conference’s top seed. In the first round of the playoffs, the 76ers defeated the Indiana Pacers in four games.

Carter and the Raptors were the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference and defeated the New York Knicks in the first round, setting the scene for one of the most exciting playoff series in history.

It was the age-old storyline of “Whatever you can do, I can do better.” Half-Man/Half-Amazing would score 50 points in one game, and Half-Man/Half-Amazing would equal him with 50 points in the next. The Sixers eventually won in seven games and went on to defeat Milwaukee in the NBA finals. Despite this, the Philadelphia-Toronto series and the Iverson-Carter showdown were the highlights of the playoffs.

Allen Iverson and Vince Carter both led their respective teams to victories.

Carter’s 35 points and seven assists helped Toronto win the opening game of the series in Philadelphia. In the defeat, Iverson had 36 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 7 steals. The tone was established for the next six games.

As the Sixers won Game 2 97-92, AI ensured that they maintained their home-court advantage. The 6-foot guard scored 54 points on 9-of-9 free-throw shooting and 3-of-5 three-point shooting. Carter led the Raptors with 28 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.

In Game 3, when the series returned to Toronto, the former North Carolina star retaliated in kind. Carter scored 50 points in a 102-78 victory, adding six rebounds, seven assists, a steal, and four blocks.

In a Game 4 that traveled to Philly, the No. 1 selection in the 1996 draft out of Georgetown scored 30 points and Carter had 25. Then, in Game 5, Iverson went fire once again, leading the Sixers to a 121-88 victory and a 3-2 series lead. In the victory, The Answer scored 52 points, his second 50-point game of the series.

In Game 6, with the team facing elimination, it was Carter’s time to shine. In a 101-89 victory at the Air Canada Centre, the 6-7 guard outscored Iverson 39-20 and hit 4-of-8 from three-point range, pushing the series to a decisive Game 7. With the Raptors down 88-87 at the clock, Carter’s 19-footer at the buzzer went off the back iron, and Iverson and the Sixers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals.

After that season, neither player’s career was the same, but their famous battle was really epic.

Iverson proceeded to lead his club into the playoffs, defeating the Bucks in a tense Game 7 victory. In the championships, Philly played the Shaq-and-Kobe Lakers and lost in five games.

AI was never a part of another NBA championship game.

Carter continued to shine in Toronto, but the organization never seemed to be able to provide him with enough support. The Raptors went three seasons without making the playoffs before the UNC grad sought a trade and ended up in New Jersey. Carter went on to play 19 more seasons for seven different teams after his fight with Iverson, but he never won a title.

During their careers, both athletes had a lot of significant moments. Iverson has already been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and Carter will likely follow suit. However, from May 6 and May 20, 2001, the two superstars battled head-to-head in one of the NBA’s most memorable playoff clashes.

Basketball-Reference provided all statistics.

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