Iverson wins NBA MVP award

by Rob Kim | 5/16/01 5:00am

In a landslide vote that would have surprised many fans and writers back at the beginning of the season, Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers was elected the NBA MVP award yesterday with a total of 1,121 points in the voting.

Iverson was honored by the league due to his monumental part in leading the 76ers to the best record in the Eastern Conference and to the playoffs, where they are currently battling Vince Carter's Toronto Raptors in a hotly contested series of young talent in the NBA.

Iverson beat out San Antonio's Tim Duncan, who finished second with 706 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal, who finished with 578 points (O'Neal won the MVP award last year). While Iverson almost single-handedly led the 76ers to where they are now in the playoffs, Duncan and O'Neal were both supported and helped by another huge star, David Robinson and Kobe Bryant, respectively.

In particular Bryant has recently turned it up down the stretch, taking some pressure off of O'Neal's shoulders.

Iverson is the smallest player ever to win the MVP award, at 6 feet and 165 pounds. He is also the first Sixer to win the award since Moses Malone in 1982-83, the last year the Sixers won the championship.

Iverson also won The Sporting News player of the year award, which he said was more important to him because the players voted for him (the league MVP award is voted on by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters in the United States and Canada).

Iverson's win is surprising because at the beginning of the season, Iverson was nearly traded due to his tumultuous relationship with the 76ers coach, Larry Brown.

However, Iverson promised to change his selfish ways just before the season started and became the team captain, leading the team on and off the court with his league leading scoring average of 31.1 points per game and steals with 2.51 per game.

Iverson also vowed to improve communication between himself and his coach, which has been very evident in the way the Sixers have performed in the playoffs.

During the news conference yesterday afternoon that announced his victory, Iverson proclaimed that he was more mature and wiser than the beginning of the season and that he was focused on winning a championship.

Brown added, "I am really grateful for the opportunity to coach Allen and I never thought I'd say that." Brown also said that he compares himself to a "proud father" in the way that he has watched Iverson progress in maturity since the beginning of the season.

The Sixers are currently tied 2-2 with the Raptors in their best-of-seven playoff series, which continues tonight with Game Five in Philadelphia at 8:00 p.m. Iverson and Carter have traded playoff heroics with each game, switching off totals of at least 50 points for the last two games.