PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Kobe Bryant was averaging 31.6 points per game as the 2001 NBA Finals between his Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers began. Bryant’s Lakers easily won that championship (4-1), but Bryant averaged only 24.6 points per game, shooting 41.5-percent from the field.
One of the key Sixers tasked in guarding the Lower Merion native, was the Philly born and 2001 NBA sixth man of the year, Aaron McKie. In the Sixers’ only win of that series, Bryant was held to just 15 points (7-22 FG), committing six turnovers in game one.
14 years later, former Sixer Andre Iguodala was forced to be the primary Golden State Warrior to defend LeBron James in game one of this year’s NBA Finals. The Warriors held off the Cavaliers in overtime of game one, despite a playoff career-high of 44 points from King James.
James, however, did most of his damage against everyone not-named-Iguodala. In fact, James tallied just 11 of his 44 points on 4-14 shooting against Iggy, who gave credit to McKie..
“I learned this early in my career from real vets — like, Aaron McKie was my real vet, he played against Kobe [Bryant] in the Finals in 2001 with Philly,” Iguodala said during an NBA TV interview after the game via Yahoo.com. “He would always say, ‘Listen, you’re not going to stop these guys. These guys are going to get their points. People come to see them play. They’re going to get to the foul line. They’re going to get in rhythm every single night. The key to it is making it as hard for them as possible, making them take tough jump shots, contest everything and hopefully they’ll miss.
“And, every once in a while,” he said, “try to get a steal, try to get a tip. Throw them off-rhythm.”
Golden State Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr, praised Iguodala’s defense post-game.
“I thought he was fantastic,” Kerr said of Iguodala on Thursday night. “You know, Andre is one of the smartest defenders I’ve ever seen. He understands angles, he understands where everybody is on the floor. It’s funny to say, when a guy gets 44 points, that the defender did a really good job, but I thought Andre did extremely well.”