Mike Hume/The Hoya Georgetown’s men’s basketball team had to share its home court with the professionals last weekend. Washington D.C. hosted the National Basketball Association’s annual All-Star game.

It was billed as a blowout, as a game of injured, reluctant participants who wouldn’t try their best, as just another example of how boring NBA mid-season play has become, a showcase of the West’s superiority over the East. And until the final nine minutes, it was.

But with his team down by 21 points in the fourth quarter, game VP and former Georgetown star Allen Iverson took charge and reversed the tide. He scored 15 of his 25 points in the final nine minutes, while Stephon Marbury hit two clutch three-pointers in the final 53 seconds to give the East the ultimate edge, 111-110.

“We wanted to win from the beginning when they first threw the ball up,” said Iverson. “People kept saying we couldn’t win because of our size, but it’s not about your size on paper, it’s about the size of your heart.”

The comeback effort for the East began with three-pointers by Jerry Stackhouse and Vince Carter, and Iverson converted a three-point play to make it 100-96 in favor of the West with four minutes and 30 seconds to go. The crowd at MCI Center, which had been largely subdued throughout the weekend, finally got excited about the East’s play, even chanting “M-V-P, -V-P,” for Iverson.

The East tied the game with 3:10 to go on a putback by Tracy cGrady, and took its first lead of the night on an Iverson three-pointer that made it 103-102 with 2:44 remaining.

Marbury traded shots with West guard Kobe Bryant – first Bryant made two jumpers in a row o put the West up by three, then arbury sank a three-pointer with 53 seconds left, but Bryant answered with a jumper to give the West a two-point lead. Marbury had the last word, however, sinking one more three-pointer to make the score 111-110.

The West took the ball out of bounds with 10.9 seconds left and everyone in the building expecting Bryant to get the last shot. But at the last second, Bryant, who was covered by Marbury, passed the ball to teammate Tim Duncan, whose short jumper at the buzzer didn’t fall after Carter partially blocked it.

“I was just reading the defense. I thought Tim had a better look,” said Bryant, who led the West in scoring with 19 points and 10 assists.

Iverson received Most Valuable Player honors and immediately thanked Philadelphia 76ers and Eastern Conference All-Star Coach Larry Brown, as well as his teammates. Iverson, who spent two years at Georgetown prior to entering the NBA draft and who grew up in Virginia, still has many friends and family members in the area.

Brown later presented his MVP trophy to his mother who joined him on stage for the ceremony.

“He’s so fast it makes it so hard for any defender to stop him. That’s the reason why they call him the Answer. We had so many questions there on the bench, and he just came out and he responded,” said Eastern Conference teammate and former Hoya Dikembe Mutombo, who finished with 22 rebounds, five shy of the All-Star record.

Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson was in attendance to watch a Hoya reunion of sorts, with Iverson and Mutombo, two of the East’s top performers, and Alonzo Mourning, all returning to Washington, D.C. as All-Stars.

“Both of them have pride and they play hard, and I’m happy for them. I’m just happy that they experienced success,” said Thompson of Iverson and Mutombo.

Earlier in the game, sloppy play overshadowed highlight-quality plays, such as Vince Carter’s 360 degree dunk and Ray Allen’s hot shooting – he scored nine of the East’s first 11 points at the beginning of the second half. Despite these spectacular plays, the West dominated throughout, sprinting out to a 16-0 lead in the first quarter.

“We had every reason to make this like a regular All-Star game and just lay down and stop playing, and it didn’t happen. Whether these guys know it or not, kids watch them and want to be like them. And today was the greatest thing for basketball. There were so many lessons to be learned,” Brown said.

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