21 years ago today, Michael Jordan had the greatest half in NBA Finals history.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Doesn't it seem like Michael Jordan was involved in every great Finals moment ever?
The Bulls defeated Portland 122-89 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on June 3rd, 1992. Michael Jordan, who finished with a game-high 39 points, set NBA Finals records for points scored in a half (35) and three-point field goals made in one half (6).
After the sixth made three-pointer, Jordan turned to the mid court TV camera and shrugged as if to say, “I guess everything’s going in.” Unknowingly, his shrug created one of the most indelible images in NBA history and added further to his legacy in the process.
The two teams appeared headed to face each other for most of the season and comparisons were made between Clyde Drexler and Michael Jordan throughout the season. Portland came out super hot to start the game, making their first seven field goal attempts, and took an eight point lead.
Then, Michael Jordan turned it on. Portland was leading by 1 at 45-44, but then Chicago went on a 22-6 run to grab a 66-51 halftime lead and take control, ultimately winning the game by 33 points.
"I started running for the three-point line; it felt like a free throw," Jordan famously said after the game. "I set another goal … a reasonable, manageable goal that I could realistically achieve if I worked hard enough. I approached everything step by step."
In any different era, the Portland Trailblazers squads of the early 90's would've walked away with at least one ring. The Seattle Supersonics of the late 90's would later feel the same sting of a Bulls team that is considered one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history.
The Bulls would go on to win the series in six games. Michael Jordan was named Finals Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row, to go with his sixth straight regular season scoring titles.
When New Orleans became the Pelicans, it cleared the way for the Charlotte Hornets to return to the NBA.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: In the mid-nineties, there was no cooler team in any sport than the Charlotte Hornets.
Even though the Hornets never won a title, never even advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs, they were a cultural phenomenon thanks to huge personalities and the coolest jerseys in NBA history.
The Charlotte Hornets were established in 1988 via the expansion draft, which saw them build the squad around Kelly Tripuka, Dell Curry, Rex Chapman and 5-3 Muggsy Bogues, the shortest player in NBA history. Even though they weren't great, the Hornets were a surprise success in their first season, leading the NBA in attendance (something they would achieve seven times during 14 years in Charlotte). Eventually, the Hornets would sell out 364 consecutive games, essentially nine consecutive seasons.
The Hornets won 20 games in year one, 21 in year two, 26 in year three and hosted the 1991 NBA All-Star Game. The momentum was building and the All-Star Game was a national introduction.
Prior to year four, the Hornets entered the NBA Draft with the number one overall pick and made a pick that affected the franchise for years to come. Larry Johnson, who would eventually become "Grandmama", was the reigning Naismith Award winner as the best player in college basketball.
And even though they won less than half of their games (31), they now had their identity and face of the franchise. LJ was tough, charismatic and one of the best players in the game averaging 19.2 ppg and 11 rpg as a rookie.
After Johnson's Rookie of the Year season, his jersey began to pop up more and more outside of Charlotte, in places like Omaha, Nebraska; places where they had no business popping up.
In 1992 the Hornets held the second pick in the NBA Draft and used it to select Georgetown center Alonzo Mourning. Equally as tough and talented as Johnson, suddenly the Hornets were raising eyebrows.
Johnson, Mourning and Kendall Gill, a #1 draft pick three years prior was the highest scoring trio in the league. In year five, the Hornets had their first winning season (44-38) and made their first playoff appearance, upsetting the heavily favored Boston Celtics in the first round. Charlote was eliminated in the second round, but the groundwork was set; the Hornets were now a legit NBA franchise.
With the success, even more people jumped on the bandwagon and it was now "cool" to say you were a Hornets fan. And when you said it, you weren't mocked; you would generally receive a knowing nod of approval and the unspoken, "This dude is cool," sentiment of the time.
In 1993 the Hornets struggled to a 41-41 record due in large part to injuries to "Zo" and "LJ" and missed the playoffs. Mourning averaged a double double, and Johnson was second on the team in both scoring and rebounding.
Even though the franchise took a step back, point guard Muggsy Bogues had the best season of his career. Bogues scored 10.3 ppg, his 10.1 apg was second most in the league and he led the league in assist to turnover ratio. Bogues was the spark-plug that made the Hornets one of the most exciting teams ever.
He didn't have the biggest name, or body, on the team, but he would ultimately retire as the Hornets' career leader in minutes played (19,768), assists (5,557), steals (1,067), turnovers (1,118), and assists per 48 minutes (13.5).
The next season, the Hornets finished the regular season going 50-32, and returned to the playoffs. Johnson and Mourning again led the team in points-per-game, while also leading the club in rebounding. However, Charlotte was bounced from the playoffs in the first round, falling to the Chicago Bulls in four games.
Following the season, the core of the team, and of the franchise, was broken up as the Hornets traded Mourning to the Miami Heat.
By 1995 the Hornets were selling the most jerseys in the league. But, the Mourning trade really marked the beginning of the end for the Hornets as a succesful NBA franchise led by the exciting style spearheaded by Bogues, Johnson and Mourning. After a 41-41 season, LJ was dealt to the New York Knicks. Bogues was limited due to injury, losing minutes to Kenny Anderson, and was no longer a Hornet after 1997.
The Hornets enjoyed success even after the "Bigh Three" left, making the playoffs in five of the following six years before the franchise left Charlotte for New Orleans, but it was a completely different team. And with it, the buzz and aura of coolness that had been established, slowly dissipated.
Sure there was success, but the early Hornets teams were exciting to watch, especially as they grew from league doormat to consistent contender. All NBA fans saw this development and felt like they were a part of it, which was expressed by the record setting merchandise sales. Liking the Hornets even when they were good wasn't like liking the Yankees and Dallas Cowboys when they were good; there was an understated cool to it that people just "got".
So why should you care that the Charlotte Hornets are being reincarnated? Because with a built in fan-base and the re-birth of the fantastic uniforms, NBA fans will at least be treated to whatever magic is left. And for as bad as they have been as the Charlotte Bobcats under Michael Jordan, it's basically like rebuilding the Hornets again, from the ground up, for a second time.
And maybe if we're lucky, we'll get to see bikini brief-esque shorts like the ones Kelly Tripucka has on in this introductory press conference from 1988:
32 years ago today, Dr. J was king.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Julius Erving of the Philadelphia 76ers was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, making him the only player to win MVP honors in both the NBA and the ABA.
To this day, only a handful of players have revolutionized the entire game, not just the NBA, the way Dr. J did. And not just in terms of on the court success, of which he had plenty, but in terms of personal style. Dr. J was the alpha male of his era and even if you knew nothing about basketball, just seeing the way he floated across the court, told you he was the man everyone else wanted to be.
Erving won three championships, four Most Valuable Player Awards, and three scoring titles with the ABA's Virginia Squires and New York Nets (now the NBA's Brooklyn Nets) and the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers. He is the fifth-highest scorer in professional basketball history with 30,026 points (NBA and ABA combined).
And he wasn't just a finesse scoring type of player- Dr J was mean and reflected the era in which he played. Case in point, his fight with Larry Bird:
Erving was inducted in 1993 into the Basketball Hall of Fame and was also named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time team. In 1994, Erving was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the 40 most important athletes of all time.
For crying out loud, the term "slam" dunk was coined to describe the way Erving attacked the rim. Before him, dunking was a practice usually among big men to show their dominance, strength and physicality. There was no art or style to it. The dunk was judged by many as style over substance and unsportsmanlike. Erving, however, changed that misconception and turned the dunk into the most exciting, expressive shot in the game. The "slam dunk" became an art form and came to help popularize the sport.
With no Dr. J, there would be no Michael Jordan, no Charles Barkley, no Kobe, and certainly no LeBron James.Read More
The best basketball player on the planet is selling more shoes than any other player on the planet.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: The only shoe salesman LBJ can't touch is "His Airness", Michael Jordan.
The NBA playoffs are when we separate the good from the great.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: When the pressure is on, who stepped up and scored the most for his team, when it mattered the most?
The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls were arguably the best team in NBA history, led by arguably the greatest player in NBA history.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: The accomplishments of the 1995-96 Bulls only get more amazing as time passes.
17 years ago tonight, the Bulls defeated the Bullets 103-93 to finish the season with a 72-10 record and .878 winning percentage, which eclipsed the NBA record set by 1972 Lakers, who went 69-13 for an .841 percentage. The victory over Washington earned Chicago their 33rd road victory, the most ever in a season by an NBA team.
Chicago was ridiculously hot all year and consistent throughout. The Bulls finished the month of November with a 12-2 record but improved in each of the next two months, going 13-1 in December and 14-0 in January, running their record to 39-3 after three months. In February, the Bulls ran their record to 41-3 and became the fastest NBA team to 41 wins, again besting the '71-72 Lakers previous record.
After the incredible regular season, CHI didn't cool off, going 15-3 in the playoffs for a combined total record of 87-13. The Supersonics won three of those 13 games, while the Indiana Pacers were the only other team to beat them more than once that season, winning two games in the regular season by a total of five points.
During the same victory over Washington 17 years ago, Michael Jordan set an NBA record by winning his eighth NBA scoring title (breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s record of seven) after accumulating 2,491 points in 82 games for a 30.4 ppg average. The 30+ ppg average was the last time Jordan would score 30+ points per game. And of the eight seasons he did score 30+, 30.4 was the second lowest- how many guys would KILL for a season like that?
Another interesting piece of statistical information for you about MJ. Entering '95-'96, Jordan had made 303 of 987 attempts from beyond the arc in 10 seasons, hitting them .306% of the time.
In his 11th season, MJ hit 111 of 260, hitting treys at a clip of .427%, tied with Hubert Davis for 10th best percentage in the league.
It goes to show you why Jordan was great- even though he was the best ever, even already at that point, he worked on his weak areas until they were strengths.
With that kind of leadership and talent, it's no wonder why that Bulls had the success they did.Read More
Each year, the NBA playoffs produce memorable moments.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: When the stakes were highest, "Zeke" and "MJ" answered the bell- who was better?
Kobey Bryant moves to 4th on the all-time points list topping Chamberlain. Where on the list will he finish?
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: He won't finish first, but really records always appear less important when you're struggling to make the playoffs.
Basketball is a team sport, but when two studs lock horns, the other players on the court recede from view.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: So many great rivalries, so little time!
Today, Gatorade released an ad for it's new product "Fixation",which features Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade squaring off, each player dreaming of a different outcome when they meet one and each other on the floor.
So it got me thinking: Who are the best one on one match-ups in NBA history?
Here are the first batlles that came to mind.
Shaquille O'Neal vs. Hakeem Olajuwon
Their match-up in the 1995 NBA Finals has been washed asunder by the tides of history, but at the time, this may have been the best duel I have ever witness. Hakeem was paying the best basketball of his career this season (in the playoffs particularly)and maybe the best stretch for any center in NBA history. Shaq led the NBA in scoring this season (29.3 ppg) and was in the midst of establishing himself as the most physically dominant center ever. In the Finals, Hakeem averaged 32.8 ppg and Shaq scored 28.0 ppg.
Wilt Chamberlain vs Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
In the conversation about the best center of all-time, these two names are really the only two at the top of the list- it's really just a question of who is 1a and who is 1b.This excellent article breaks it down, blow by blow, and concludes that Wilt is the victor.
They played against each other 27 times, including 11 games in the playoffs of 1971 and 1972. In their first 11 meetings, Chamberlain was still able to (i.e. inclined to) score with Jabbar. In those first 11 games, Wilt averaged 22.8 ppg and 17.6 rebounds, while Kareem averaged 26.0 ppg and 15.6 rebounds.
50 ppg, 30.1 ppg over his career, 23 rebounds/game over his career, the only non-guard ever to lead the league in assists, 100 points in one game, the list goes on...Wilt was simply more dominating.
Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James
This is absolutely the most exciting match-up in the current NBA, with both players battling every night for supremacy. In five playoff games (last year's NBA Finals), KD outscored LBJ 30.6 ppg to 28.6 ppg. But James dominated in every other statistical category and also won the title, by a margin of 4-1. In 11 regular season match-ups it's the same story; Durant averages 29.0 to LBJ's 28.1, "Bron Bron" has the edge in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks and has won nine of the 11 games. "Durantula" has some work to do, potentially in this years NBA Finals.
Dominique Wilkins vs. Michael Jordan
Of their era, these were the two most athletically gifted, electrifying players. WIlkins at times, looked like he almost had too much energy for his body, while MJ was always smooooooth. In 45 career games against each other, Jordan won 27 while "Nique" won 18. MJ averaged 31.6, while Wilkins poured in 29.8 as both players had almost identical stat lines. In one playoff series that the Bulls swept, Jordan averaged 34.3, 6.7 rpg, 4.3 apg to Nique's 30.0, 5.3 rpg and 3.0 apg.
Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan
The significance of this rivalry isn't as much about the head to head play, though that was extremely entertaining, but about what it meant to the league- was it not old MJ versus a young version of himself? Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan played each other 8 times, four when Jordan was with the Chicago Bulls and 4 when he was with the Washington Wizards. The Lakers won 5 of those games. Across these games, Bryant scored an average of 22.8 points, while Jordan scored 24.5 points.
Oh,old man Jordan still has it.
What's your top five?
17 years ago today, MJ became just the tenth player in NBA history to eclipse the 24,000 point plateau.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Another day at the office, another milestone for Michael Jordan at that point in his career.
Who'd have thought at the time, that 17 years later to the day, he'd have a bogus paternity suit against him dropped?
Against the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center, Jordan poured in 38 points on 15 of 32 shooting as the Bulls won 98-94. The victory pushed the Chicago's record to 58-7. The Jordan led Bulls would ultimately set an NBA precedent for greatness that year, setting the all-time single season mark for victories in a season with 72.
Prior to Jordan, only nine players in the history of the league had scored at least 24,000 points- Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Havlicek, Moses Malone, Jerry West, Elvin Hayes, Oscar Robertson, George Gervin and Alex English.
Before it was all said and done, Jordan scored 32,292 points and retired having scored the third most points in NBA history. In 15 professional seasons, he led the NBA in scoring 10 times, including seven years in a row and 10 times in 11 seasons (!).
Kobe Bean Bryant is just 995 points away from tying MJ and wresting third place from his trophy case- as if Jordan even cares.
Since MJ got his 24,000th point in 1996, the accomplishment has become more commonplace. Currently, a total of 19 players (nine post-Jordan) have scored 24,000+ points, including Allen Iverson, Kobe, Karl Malone, Dirk Nowitzki, Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing and Kevin Garnett.
Boston's Paul Pierce is just 223 points short, and former Celtic/current Heat guard Ray Allen is right behind him, just 145 points less than Pierce.
While all the other players on this list are great scorers, no one was more electrifying than Michael Jordan.Read More
When you're on top like Michael Jordan, everybody wants a piece of you.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: When Pamela Y. Smith decided to go after MJ, MJ's lawyers went to work and immediately began tabulating their next invoice.
Before tonight's latest installment of the Three-Point Shootout, let's reflect on the five best contests in history.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: If there is anything we've learned, anybody can win, regardless of reputation entering the contest.
Before we get to the list, a quick factoid. Do you know who has the lowest score in contest history? Amazingly, Michael Jordan with five points in 1990. Wowza.
1986- Larry Bird
The first contest ever was basically the beginning of Bird asserting himself as the most successful and entertaining of any three-point contestant ever. Bird made a then-competition record of 11 straight shots. When he won the contest and received his over-sized check, Bird quipped, "That check has had my name on it for a week now." He dominated eventual three time champion Craig Hodges in the final round 22-12 and set the standard for what was expected in ensuing competitions.
1991- Craig Hodges
This contest was arguably the deepest ever, right there with the 1995 version. The field consisted of champ Hodges, Drazen Petrovic (RIP), Dell Curry, Jeff Hornacek, Mitch Richmond, John Stockton, Craig Ehlo and Jim Les. In this contest, Hodges set the all time record for consecutive shots made with nineteen, and looked like a completely unstoppable robot, IE like the T-1000 in the original Terminator.
1988- Larry Bird
Bird only had seven pints with 25 seconds left with two racks remaining but would rebound to win making the final shot and generating the signature image of him extending his index finger as the final, event winning ball went through the net. Bird beat Dale Ellis 17-15 in the final round and created an indelible image in the process. Poor Dale Ellis. He competed in each of the first three contests and could never beat Bird, who won all three of them.But don't feel too bad for Dale, he eventually won the contest in 1989.
2002/2003- Peja Stojakovic
Peja's two wins were in back to back years, both ending in overtime. both times victorious over Wesley Person, younger bro of "The Rifelman" and fellow three-point alum Chuck Person. In 2002, Peja and Person outlasted Steve Nash in the Finals, tying at 20 before Person lost in the finals en route to Stojakovic's first title. The following year, they tied again in the finals after beating Brent Berry. Stojakovic would win that math-up as well, winning his second consecutive title. And the fans won by getting to watch an entire extra round of shots being hoisted up.
2007- Jason Kapono
Kapono gets no respect for his back to back titles, because his shot wasn't particularly pleasing to the eye and he was a journeyman as a player. But in 2007 he locked horns with Jason Terry for one of the most exciting competitions in history. Terry fought his way into the finals by winning a shootout with Mike Miller, then tied with Kapono in the Finals to earn an extra session. Both players were hot from start to finish and it was fun to watch. The tiebreaker didn't disappoint either, with Kapono besting Terry 24-19.Read More
So Allen Iverson's problems are continuing; and now his mansion has officially been foreclosed on.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: Iverson never seemed to have any of the right "answers" off the court.
The dunk contest needs a shot in the arm and "King James" would be a godsend.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: It would be so much easier to stop hating LeBron if he did the fans a solid.
59 years ago today, the NBA All-Star game had the first overtime game in its history.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Bob Cousy stepped up and delivered.
The legendary Boston Celtics guard poured in 10 points during the overtime period and gave the East a 98-93 victory, also garnering All-Star MVP honors in the process.
This game was so long ago that George Mikan, the original "big man", played in it, going just six of 18 from the field and nearly fouling out. Dolph Schayes is the only other name I could recognize besides the aforementioned Cousy and Mikan. But what's interesting about that is that even the average NBA fan knows those names, which shows you the kind of impact they made on the game and the league.
In hindsight though, it's pretty sad that in an All-Star game with an extra period, the teams combined for just 191 points. 26 years later, the second OT All-Star game occurred with the West pulling out an eight point victory and the two teams combined for 280 points. The game had changed.
Aside from those two OT games, there have been four others, occurring in 1984, 1987, 1993 and 2003.
In '84, Isiah Thomas took home MVP honors after a 21 point, 15 assist, five rebound game. In '87, Seattle's Tom Chambers won the award while he was playing for the Supersonics, accumulating 34 points as the games leading scorer.
In '93, with the game held in Utah, John Stockton and Karl Malone were named co-MVP's of the game, which was as absurd and partial as it sounds.
In '03, the first double OT game in history occurred. Kevin Garnett was named the MVP after scoring a game high 37, making three straight baskets in the second OT. Interestingly, this was Michael Jordan's last All-Star game.
As the years have gone on, the games have become more and more competitive, with the last three games being decided by a total of 10 points. But it all began back in 1954. Read More