While I’ve been watching the Cavs play the Warriors during the NBA Finals, it’s been hard for me to look at Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue and take him seriously. Not because his team has been getting mollywhopped by Golden State in the first two outings. No, it’s because he will always be the guy Allen Iverson stepped over in the 2001 NBA Finals after shaking him up and hitting a jumper from the corner, a move that is ingrained in the minds of even the most casual NBA fan in the 2000s. Y’all, that was 15 years ago. What?
Another notable date is June 7, A.I.’s birthday. The answer is 41. Forty-one, people. That’s damn near 50! In honor of the greatest pound-for-pound NBA player—though can we still say this with Steph around? Can we create another category for A.I. just for the culture?—let’s take a trip down memory lane to lament just how old a lot of us really are.
- A.I. crossed over (Michael) Jordan almost two decades ago.
- The Tyronn Lue step-over was so epic that it feels like it happened yesterday. It was not, in fact, yesterday. I only know this because Tyronn Lue now has gray hair.
- A.I. told you he was supposed to be the franchise player and “we talkin’ ’bout practice” almost FIFTEEN. YEARS. AGO.
- This was around the same time respected music critics genuinely believed Ashanti was the superior artist to Beyoncé, and Bey hadn’t even started sniffing her now universally revered, epic solo career.
- Russell Wilson and Ciara were high schoolers who probably signed celibacy pledges … so actually not much has changed.
- When A.I. was traded to the Denver Nuggets, Kevin Durant still played for the Seattle Supersonics. Four facts based on this fact: 1) Seattle still had a team. 2) Durant actually experienced a life before OKC. 3) iPhones had barely been invented. 4) This makes me feel old.
- Allen Iverson played for the Pistons. I bet most of y’all don’t remember that. Because it was a long-ass time ago.
- At the height of A.I.’s career (arguably 2000-2001, though 2003 was underrated), these phones were cutting edge.
- No one had heard of the phrase “weapons of mass destruction” or Osama bin Laden.
- The absolute first installments of Lord of the Rings, Fast and the Furious, Ocean’s 11, and Shrek debuted.
- A.I. reached his peak before Hurricane Katrina was ever a thing.
- Only people in Illinois knew what a Barack Obama was.
- Few people knew what a Bill Simmons was … because he was not yet hired by ESPN …
- … or yet fired by ESPN.
- Aaliyah was making hit music …
- … while Rihanna was an unknown in Barbados busting out jams like this at local talent shows.
- Kanye produced his first hit song (but hadn’t rapped for real yet).
- People still wore Girbaud jeans.
- Neither Facebook nor MySpace had been invented yet, but it didn’t matter because we still used Black Planet.
- Titanic was only 4 years old.
- A.I. dropped multiple 50-point games against the Raptors and Dell Curry—as in Steph Curry’s father—during the playoffs …
- … and A.I.’s toddler son would join him at postgame press conferences. That toddler son is now grown enough to play basketball for Georgetown. That’s like seeing baby Riley Curry staring down reporters one day, and the next thing you know she’s getting recruited to play at Stanford. Except 15 years have actually passed and you don’t know what the hell you did in all that time.
- When A.I. played for the Pistons, Barack Obama hadn’t begun his first term in office.
- Allen Iverson is now older than Jordan was after M.J.’s first two retirements and Jordan’s subsequent, unnecessary return to the league.
- Congratulations! *DJ Khaled voice* If you’re familiar with at least half of this, you are old, too.
Malaika Jabali is a writer and activist from Atlanta who, being from Atlanta, always has to talk about it. She’ll be writing other things on her soon-to-be-released site Freshphiles, which is like the love child of Afropunk and the Village Voice if that child read too much Malcolm X growing up and always tried to get you to sign a petition. She doesn’t “do” Twitter like that, but she’s on Instagram not smiling because she thinks it makes her look cool or whatever.