The worst part about living in New York is the utter disdain the local networks have for showing any NFL game that doesn’t involve the Giants or Jets. Now I’ll usually watch just about any game, but for more than half of the sixteen weeks each season there is no double-header on either CBS or Fox because, I presume, they want to give exclusivity to the team playing.
Yesterday, for example, Jets/KC was the only early game on and since I really didn’t feel like putting on pants and making the trek all the way to the bar that shows every game (literally two blocks away), I mopingly put the Jets game on. But it was just horrible. So I ended up flipping over to ESPN Classic and, lo and behold, there was an “NBA Scorers” marathon on, which was tremendous to watch because I really loathe preseason basketball. It was like an NBA opening day adrenaline shot in the arm.
A boring game with Iverson dropping 50-something against the Magic was first, but then came Bird’s amazing, career-high 60-point-game where he was just out-of-his-goddamn mind making every shot he took, including fadeaway continuation-after-the-foul threes while falling out of bounds that had the entire Hawks bench jumping out of their seats.
That’s one of my favorite games and it’s all the better considering the Celtics were fouling to stop the clock, up by like 15 mind you, just to get the ball back enough times for Bird to break the career Celtic high of (I think) 58 that McHale had literally set the previous week. At one point the announcer says (paraphrasing) “Isn’t it a coincidence that McHale just broke Bird’s old record last week and here Bird is tonight taking it back?”
No, sir wearing a comical sports coat, it was not a coincidence.
That’s just Larry Bird.
Anyway, the point here is that the NBA season starts tomorrow and that the Association is steaksauce.
And to commemorate the unadulterated brilliance that is the NBA, I remembered I had a list of the 52 Greatest Moments in NBA history on my computer that I wrote down a while back while watching the show of the same name that Spike TV did a bunch of years back (I presume to celebrate the League’s 52nd Anniversary).
Obviously, there have been a few moments since then that would be included (LeBron’s Game 5 most notably), but to get you excited for the upcoming year, here’s the full list:
#52 – Reggie’s push-off on Jordan to hit a three-point game winner in Game 5 of the ECF in 1998
#51 – Dikembe’s eight-seed Nuggs beat the Sonics
#50 – MJ’s shoulder shrug six-three-pointer first half against the Blazers
#49 – Iceman drops 63 (33 in a quarter) on the last day of the season to edge out David Thompson for the season scoring record
#48 – Larry Legend’s back-to-back game winners to give them home-court advantage in the last two games of the season
#47 – Vinnie Johnson Finals game winner over Portland
#46 – Big O wins a title with Milwaukee…Drops 30 in the final game
#45 – Memorial Day Miracle – Sean Elliot’s game winner in the WCF to beat Portland
#44 – Robert Horry beats Sacto
#43 – Larry Legend revives the Celtics
#42 – Sir Charles’ game winner to send Suns to Finals
#41 – Walton’s Blazers win the finals over Dr. J in his first season in the NBA
#40 – Game 6 1958 Finals: Bob Petit scores 19 of the last 21 and 50 total. “It was the greatest game of my life. It just happened to be in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.”
#39 – MJ drops the double-nickel in his return to MSG while rocking the 4-5 (5th game back after baseball).
#38 – Jerry West’s Game Winner in the NBA All Star game
#37 – Knicks comeback from down 18 with under 6 to go against the Big O/Kareem Bucks. They scored final 19 points of the game.
#36 – Lakers repeat after Riley’s guarantee that the would…beat hobbled Zeke, who was amazing while playing on a damn near broken ankle
#35 – Spud wins the 1986 Slam Dunk contest
#34 – Game 6 1993 NBA Finals: Bulls finish off Three Peat on Paxson’s jumper despite Barkley’s amazing game
#33 – Larry asks “who’s playing for 2nd” then wins three-point contest in his warm-up jacket with the walk-off #1 finger raised
#32 – George Mikan becomes a superstar, lead Minny Lakers to 5th title in 6 years
#31- Flu Game: MJ’s 38 with 103-degree temperature
#30 – Derek Fisher’s 4/10ths of a second WCF game-winner after Timmy’s had just drilled what he thought was a Spurs game-winner
#29 – Kareem’s skyhook in Game 6 of the 1974 finals
#28 – MJ’s 63 in the Boston Garden in his second career Playoff game
#27 – Larry Bird’s jersey retirement — Magic wears Boston t-shirt
#26 – Game 2, 1984 Finals: Gerald Henderson steals the ball
#25 – Bernard King vs. Zeke in Game 5 of the 1984 First Round Playoffs: Zeke gets crazy but Bernard averaged over 40 ppg for the series and dunks home a put back to seal the game
#24 – Elgin Baylor drops 61 points in Game 5 1962 NBA Finals (Cs win series)
#23 – Jordan beats Nique in 1985 Slam Dunk (free throw line in Chicago)
#22 – The Streak: Elgin retires on November 5, 1971…and then the Lakers win 33 straight.
#21 – Bird vs. Nique shootout in Game 7 of First Round: Larry scores 20 in the 4th, Nique drops 47 total
#20 – Reggie’s 8 points in 8.9 seconds in MSG
#19 – Bill Russell leads the Celtics to their first Championship in 1957 over the St. Louis Hawks by winning Game 7 in 2 OTs
#18 – Kareem hits a skyhook to score point number 31,420 on April 5, 1984, breaking Wilt’s career record
#17 – Ralph Sampson hits walk-off, turnaround, fadaway, alley-oop, 12-footer to take Houston to the NBA Finals and end the Lakers three-year run of winning the West
#16 – 1962 NBA Finals Game 7 — Celtics vs. Lakers: Cs win their 5th straight title as the Cooz dribbles out the final seconds
#15 – Jordan’s jumper/fist pump over Ehlo’s defense/fetal position curl up
#14 – Magic’s All Star Game return
#13 – Shaq/Kobe Lakers come back against Portland…Kobe lobs to Diesel for the flush and that tremendous Shaq reaction
#12 – NBA Finals Game 6, 1980: Magic plays center and drops 42 as the Lakers beat Philly
#11 – Dr. J’s still-unreal, behind-the-backboard, baseline up-and-under
#10 – Player/Coach Bill Russell wins his 11th ring in his final game over the the Wilt/West/Elgin Lakers in Game 7 in Los Angeles
#9 – MJ’s “Spec-tac-u-lar Move!” (1991 NBA Finals Game 2 in The Forum)
#8 – Magic’s running hook (1988 NBA Finals Game 4 in The Boston Garden)
#7 – Jerry West’s hits a 60′ footer to send the game to OT. Knicks end up winning the game and title (1970 Finals in The Forum)
#6 – Paul Westphal’s timeout and Gar Heard’s turnaround jumper for Phoenix bring Celtics to a 3rd OT. Boston wins game and series. (1976 NBA Finals)
#5 – Wilt’s 100
# 4 – Havlicek steals the ball
#3 – The Clyde Frazier Game.* (1970 Finals Game 7 Knicks vs. Lakers in Madison Square Garden)
#2 – “A steal by Bird…underneath to DJ…he lays it in.” (1988 ECF Game ? Detroit @ Boston)
#1 – MJ’s final shot (in a Bulls uniform)
* You probably know it as the Willis Reed Game. It’s wasn’t. Clyde dropped 36 points and dished 19 assists and in his own words: “Willis provided the inspiration, I provided the devastation.”