When people think of the 2000-2001 Philadelphia 76ers team, the first face that comes to mind is Allen Iverson, and rightfully so. “A.I.”, after all, was the NBA MVP that season and scored a league-best 31.1 points per game.
Ever after Iverson, the Sixers boasted that year’s Defensive Player of the Year in Dikembe Mutombo – a trade deadline acquisition – and the NBA Coach of the Year in Larry Brown. Outside of the hardcore followers of the Association and the Philly die-hards, many may not remember the critical contributions of Aaron McKie to that year’s Eastern Conference Champion.
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McKie was not only the league’s Sixth Man of the Year, but was a fan favorite, due in large part to his Philadelphia roots. The now-48-year-old was born in the City of Brotherly Love, attended Simon Gratz High School in Philly – winning a state title in his senior season – and capped off his pre-professional career by playing three seasons at Temple University, where he finished sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list.
After being selected 17th overall in the 1994 NBA Draft, McKie enjoyed a 13-year NBA career, eight of those which were spent with the Sixers.
Twenty years ago Thursday, in the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Toronto Raptors, McKie had a clutch offensive rebound – and later on a smart foul – in the final minute of play to help the Sixers advance.
20 Years Ago Today – The Sixers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 1 point win over the Raptors in Game 7. pic.twitter.com/1QUHfJ2hjr
— Did The Sixers Win? (@DidTheSixersWin) May 20, 2021
McKie has been the head coach for the Owls men’s basketball team since 2019.
McKie Says Key to Sixers Winning in Playoffs Will Be Curry, Green
Just a few days ahead of the Joel Embiid-led Sixers team’s first playoff game of 2021, McKie discussed his memories of the squad from 20 years ago, as well as his confidence in this year’s group, with Philadelphia Tribune sportswriter Donald Hunt.
“They got to play through the big fellow,” McKie said. “They got the parts to get it done. They got a great coaching staff led by [head coach Glenn] Doc Rivers. They got a marquee player if not two in Joel Embiid they can play through and Ben Simmons who can dominate on the defensive end.”
McKie also gave credit to Tobias Harris‘ play this season and said bench players like Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle would need to step up if Philly were to make a deep run. It was the two newcomers to the starting lineup that came over in the offseason who McKie pointed to has the biggest x-factors.
“I think the key for the Sixers winning is going to be Seth Curry and Danny Green,” he said. “Those guys are going to have to make shots. It’s based on what I’ve been seeing. To finish the season a lot of teams have been double teaming Joel and those guys are more than capable of being able to knock down shots.”
Sixers Begin First Round of the Playoffs on Sunday Afternoon
The Sixers have their best-of-seven first round schedule set, now all they’re waiting for is an opponent.
Sixers first round playoff dates are set. Gametime Sunday is 1pm
Sixers will have over 11,000 fans at the Wells Fargo Center! pic.twitter.com/cIDmU7ta6N
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) May 20, 2021
In the penultimate game of the Play-In Tournament, the Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers at 8 p.m. Thursday on TNT. The winner of that battle advances as the number eight seed to take on the top-seeded Sixers in first round, while the loser goes home.
Philadelphia will host games one and two, and games five and seven if necessary. Game one is slated for a 1 p.m. tip-off on TNT.
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