Saturday, June 11, 2005

In the Year 2000

Shaq was unbelievable
Man, I loved that Conan O'Brien sketch. Anyway, I had the unexpected treat of stumbling upon an NBA Finals Marathon on ESPN Classic. I saw Blazers-Pistons from 1990 and now am tuning in to Lakers-Pistons from '88. Good times, to be sure. But the game that really warrants attention was Game 4 of the 2000 Finals, between the Lakers and Pistons. Click the link on the right side of the page to find out more, and be sure to comment on your favorite Finals observations and memories.


Adam Hoff said...

Highlights from that Game 4:

- This was the "I got this" game from Kobe. You know, the one when Shaq fouled out in OT and Kobe made a couple of jump shots, followed by all of the sneering and "calm down" hand motions. Anyway, looking at it in hindsight is hilarious. At the time, I hated Bryant but it was me against the world because he was wearing the "good guy" hat at the time. Now, post-Eagle, Co, everyone hates Bryant and this footage is pretty much just a glimpse into the future at an arrogant, distant elitist.

- My favorite thing about this game was listening to the ESPN Classic announcers. Who were these guys? They were HORRIBLE. Why can't ESPN run the original broadcast? It seems like it would cost less to just get the rights from another network than to have someone call the game for your own archives. Regardless, it sounded like Mike Hall and Mark Jackson were teaming up go for the record of all time worst telecast. I have to say, it didn't really feel like I was watching a Finals game, thanks to the broadcasters. Then again, that holds true for the CURRENT Finals games as well.

- The thing that really stood out to me was how unbelievable Shaq was. He's remained so valuable and dominant over the past five years that it's hard to remember the old version. Well, if you get a chance to see Shaq from 98-01, do it. He was so quick and nimble and powerful, all at once. 36 and 21 in this game and he barely broke a sweat. I was actually in awe, thinking to myself, "How come I can't remember him being THAT good?" To put it in perspective, 2005 Shaq (pre-injury) was an MVP candidate and the single most difficult player to stop in the league. But 2000 Shaq would go for about 46 and 20 against 2005 Shaq. That's how sick he was.

- We had a Jalen Rose sighting! Remember when he was the go-to guy for this Pacers team? Reggie was the man in the fourth quarter, but the offense ran through Rose. And you know what? He can still score. He doesn't do much else, but Rose is one guy that can put the ball in the basket. I watched him play against the Cavs in the last month of the season (on the Spanish channel, which was sweet) and he hit like seven straight turnaround jumpers to win the game for the Raptors. Another game, Toronto just isolated him on the block and he had like 33. I guess what I'm saying is that Miami should have made that Eddie Jones-for-Jalen Rose trade after all. Having an offensive option like that probably would have been the difference.

- Finally, Robert Horry had a series of huge plays and shots in this Lakers win, which should surprise no one.

If you get the chance, head over to ESPN Classic for a trip down memory lane.

Jeff Dritz said...

Good times recollecting. Shaq was incredible. He probably should have won the MVP 5 times. As for Jalen Rose, I don't think Miami should've traded for him. He's a cancer, and a loser. He whines about everything, demands the ball, and causes dissension in the locker room. Also, I don't think he's ever heard of defense. Eddie Jones may have been "the worst starter in the playoffs," but at least he doesn't make the players around him worse, or angry.

Adam Hoff said...

Man, this has been a great weekend. Nothing but great NBA Finals games. Here are some more highlights:

- The Jordan Flu Game. So much has been made of this game, that I was kind of nervous to watch it again. I didn't want it to be somehow less than I remembered it. It wasn't. Jordan was sick ... and SICK. What amazed me was the way he controlled the game on the defensive end. Probably the greatest single game in NBA Finals history. I'll also add that this was probably Ostertag's greatest game (something like 16 and 17 boards) and that Bill Walton was on fire in the booth.

- The Iverson Game. AI's 48-point masterpiece. First of all, the Lakers were so good that year that it took one of the best individual performances in recent Finals' history to keep them from going 16-0 in the playoffs that year. Second, how in the world did AI drag those Sixers into the Finals in the first place? That team was AWFUL. I guess it was all those 50-point performances against Vince and the Raptors. Finally, as good as Iverson was (I loved the game-winning jumper, followed by the step over Lue's head), nobody seems to remember that Shaq went for 45 and 22 in that game. 45 and 22! Unbelievable.

- Jordan's final game as a member of the Bulls. The J in Russell's face, the 45 points, and the hilarious Costas-Collins-Isiah broadcast team that was inexplicably never parodied on SNL. Here is how every telecast went:

Costas (inappropriately commenting on strategy): "I'm not sure why Phil called that play right there. I would think that isolation play for Jordan would have been the proper call."

Collins (wanting so badly to say, "Shut up, Bob. You're the play-by-play guy"): "Well, had they done that and Jordan scored, they would have tied the game. Instead, they are down 2. Now if the Jazz scores, they will be up 4. Or maybe 5. That could be a 5 points swing."

Isiah: "I remember one time when Michael wanted to post up at my basketball camp."

And so on. Honestly, the broadcasting comedy almost overshadowed the sensational play of Jordan.

- I should add that in both of these Jordan Classics, the Mailman didn't deliver. I don't think people spend enough time talking about what a big choker Karl Malone was. I mean, he absolutely gagged in the Flu Game. He was flinging up fadeaway airballs, committing stupid fouls, and generally screwing everything up for his team. Ostertag outplayed him badly, which pretty much sums it up.

- The Magic sky hook in 1987. Maybe the defining Magic Johnson moment, when he put the Lakers up 3-1 in the Finals by sinking the game-winner at the Boston Garden. What a shot. By the way, Michael Cooper was the first version of Tayshaun. Long, quick, great on defense, and underrated on offense. Then again, there was another previous version of Prince ...

- Richard Dumas and the Suns beat the Bulls in 1993. Barkley was great in this game and series, Jordan was at his peak (went for 42 in this one), and KJ had Thunder Dan had nice games, but what shocked me was how sick Richard Dumas was. Don't remember him? He wore #21 and frequently soared through the sky for monster dunks. Not only that, he locked up Scottie Pippen for long stretches of the game (believe it), and was a beast on the offensive glass. He came out of nowhere, ala Prince in 2003.

- Which leads me to wonder, is Prince the next Michael Cooper or the next Richard Dumas? Coop was never a 40 mpg starter like Prince, but he won a defensive player of the year award and had a nice, long career with a great reputation. Dumas, on the other hand, went for almost 16 and 5 a game that rookie season before vanishing. Seriously, he played like 40 more career games. So the sheer fact that Prince has made it to his third season bodes well. I actually think he should be better than he is and that he'll easily surpass both of these guys, but that's just me. I'm sure the Pistons are hoping that I'm right and that he starts that process tonight.

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