Welcome to the Greatest Moment series at Last Word On Pro Basketball, where we’ll present to you each NBA team’s greatest moment of the 21st century. From draft lottery luck, to a franchise-changing trade, to the sweet taste of a championship, every NBA team has had its own special moment to look back on.
Greatest Milwaukee Bucks Moment of the 21st Century: Ray Allen’s Game 6 Performance
Ray Allen was the perfect shooting guard. A good defender, very athletic, high basketball IQ, and of course that silky smooth shooting stroke. As a scorer, Allen was lethal. Allen was an All-Star in 2001 and more importantly a member of the All-NBA third team. With an average 22 points, 5 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game respectively, Allen showed the potential that made him the 5th overall draft pick in 1996. Offensively Allen led the Bucks in minutes played, scoring and effective shooting percentages during the regular season.
In the playoffs, Allen was even better. On a team that included Glenn Robinson, Sam Cassell, Lindsey Hunter, Ervin Johnson, Tim Thomas, and coached by George Karl, Allen shone brightest. After dispatching the upstart Orlando Magic in the first round and surviving a seven-game slugfest against the Charlotte Hornets in the second round, the Bucks faced the Philadelphia 76ers.
For context, the 76ers team was led by NBA Coach of the Year Larry Brown, and league MVP Allen Iverson. The team included Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo and Sixth Man of the Year Aaron McKie. The top seeded 76ers possessed the home court. Iverson was the NBA scoring champion that year. This ensured a keen contest ensued with the winner facing the vaunted L.A. Lakers in the NBA Finals.
After splitting the first four games of this hard-fought series, the 76ers won game 5. This meant the Bucks were facing elimination at home and needed to win. Physical play punctuated this contest (as both teams followed the philosophies of their coaches). One needs to look no further than Brown’s and or Karl’s previous stops to understand. Brown had Antonio Davis and Dale Davis in Indiana, and Karl had Frank Brickowski as their respective enforcers.
Following the Game 5 loss, Allen along with Coach Karl was convinced that the Bucks were unfairly treated. “I think there’s no question about that. The league, as a marketing machine, the bottom line is about making money,” Allen said. “It behooves everybody for the league to make more money, and the league knows that Philadelphia is going to make more money with L.A. than we would with L.A.” Karl even stated, ” Sam Cassell said that Kevin Garnett and Rod Strickland had called him, so it’s out there.” Allen tried to temper his comments stating, “I’m not alleging a conspiracy, I’m not getting caught up in anything that I think the league has going on or what they might want. I’m just saying if we control what we can control, we’ll be in L.A. playing the Lakers.”
June 2, 2001, Game 6: The Moment
Like many great battles, there is usually a legendary moment. For this Eastern Conference Finals, the moment was game 6. Allen Iverson versus Ray Allen took center stage and both combatants put on a show for the ages. Each played over forty minutes that night, scoring over 40 points. Iverson scored 46 points but shot 14 of 33 from the field. Allen, however, was unguardable. He scored an astounding 12 of 25 (including 9 of 13 from the three-point) from the field. He finished with 41 points, leading the Bucks to victory, thus forcing a deciding game 7.
While the Bucks went on to lose game 7 in Philadelphia, game 6 remains a fixture in the minds of Bucks fans. For an organization that boasted the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson and now Giannis Antetokounmpo, Allen’s place remains firmly entrenched in Bucks history. In 2015, the team’s posted an anniversary tweet celebrating that performance.
Allen made the clutch shot his calling card
Unfortunately like most things in life, the relationship with Karl and Allen ended on a sour note. Consequently, the Bucks traded Allen to the Seattle Supersonics where he continued his consistent play and deadly accurate shooting. The Boston Celtics then acquired Allen forming “The Big Three” alongside Garnett and Paul Pierce, where once again his shot helped lead the Celtics this a title. After his time in Boston, Allen joined the Miami Heat. In Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, Allen did it again. This time the San Antonio Spurs felt the agonizing pain. Most noteworthy, Allen and the Heat went on to win game 7.
4. Ray Allen sends it to OT (Game 6, 2013 NBA Finals) pic.twitter.com/QX1Y2YpHUc
Bucks fans sat in front of their televisions in awe, as Allen once again showed he was not afraid of the biggest moment on the biggest stage.
Finally, for his career, Allen’s preparation techniques were fabled. A distinguished career that lasted 18 years, Allen left the NBA as its all-time leader in three-pointers made. He was a 10-time All-Star and twice named All-NBA player. Consequently, a call from Springfield and the Naismith Hall of Fame undoubtedly beckons.
Embed from Getty Images