Enjoy as Shaq Diesel lays waste to the LA Clippers on March 6th, 2000, which also happens to be his birthday. Shaq puts up 61 on the hapless Clippers, on his way to his ONE AND ONLY league MVP.
15.) The Atlanta Hawks get swept by the Orlando Magic in the 2nd round of the 2010 playoffs by the Orlando Magic, by an average of 25 points per game. If you looked up mediocrity in the dictionary, a team picture of the 2010 Atlanta Hawks would be starring right back at you. After this stunning display of ordinariness how did the Hawks respond? By giving the PAINFULLY average Joe Johnson a 6 year $126 million dollar deal.
14.) Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks 2007 Choke Job vs. the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs, after winning 67 games during the regular season. Fresh of their collapse in the 2006 NBA finals where they blew a 2-0 lead to the Miami Wade’s, the Mavericks and the 2007 MVP were PUNKED by the Baron Davis and the Golden State Warriors, furthering the narrative that Dirk was softer than the fur on French Montana’s fur coat.
13.) The Portland Trailblazers give up 15 point 4th quarter lead to the LA Lakers in Game 7, after being down 3-1 in the series. In 2000 the “Jailblazers” could have squelched an impending Lakers dynasty, but instead they choked away a 15 point 4th quarter lead, which when you look at their roster makes all the sense in the world.
12.) Tracy McGrady and the Orlando Magic Collapse vs. the Detroit Pistons after being up 3-1 in the series. Remember those Kobe vs. T-Mac comparisons? El Oh El. McGrady Said, “we’re looking forward to our next opponent.” The Magic then went out and lost game5 by 31 and games 6 and 7 by 15 points a piece. Please Enjoy McGrady making an ass out of himself .
11.) Kobe Bryant 4 Air Balls in the 1997 Playoffs. This was the ultimate learning experience and we all came to know that Kobe Bean Bryant doesn’t fear the “moment”. But, at the time him shooting 4 air balls in an elimination game with Eddie Jones, Nick Van Exel and Shaquille O’Neal on the floor left everyone scratching their heads.
10.) Scottie Pippen gets a “Migraine” in game 7 of the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals. Hmmmmm, so funny how the narrative can change on a player over the course of time. Scottie Pippen was once thought of as fragile and soft, but after winning 6 championships and gutting out a back injury in the 1998 finals, his legacy is unmarked. But, you know MJ never let him live this moment down.
9.) Charles Smith in the game 5 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals vs the Chicago Bulls gets his shot repeatedly sent by Bulls defenders. Depending on whom you are a fan off this highlight is either a comedy reel or a horror show. Enjoy.
8.) Just dunk the damn ball Patrick!!!!! 1995…Game 7 of the Eastern Confence Semi-Finals…Knicks vs the Pacers. Madison Square Garden…The Mecca… 7-1 Center Patrick Ewing drives the lane with the game on the line, and instead of throwing it down, Pat tries to lay the ball in. This missed lay-up signaled the end of the Knicks as a contender for the NBA championship. Rumor has it that after the Ewing’s shot careened off the rim that if you listened closely enough, you could actually hear the sound of the New York Knicks championship window closing.
7.) Michael Jordan AKA the Goat AKA black Jesus returned to the NBA in 1995 after an 18 month layoff, and he had his moments, but he also had some “other” moments. Including, getting ripped by Nick Anderson in game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. He was wearing #45 in that game, he promptly switched back to #23 after Nick Anderson took his loaf of bread. Don’t you wish there was a “First Take” then, so we’d have video footage of Skelator and Hairline talking about how the GOAT had lost his “Clutch Gene”?
6.) Speaking of Nick Anderson, poor Nick Anderson. In Game 1 of the 1995 finals the heavily favored Orlando Magic were in position to win vs. the Houston Rockets, when Nick Anderson missed 4 straight free throws, submarining the series and his career, as he was never the same. This….. Is painful to watch.
5.) The Los Angeles Lakers blow a 24 point lead in game 4 of the 2008 NBA finals, sigh. The Lakers finally got rolling early against the defensive juggernaut Boston Celtics, only to gag away the lead. If you’re a Lakers fan or watch the Lakers often you know that giving up big early leads is just par for the course. This Loss set the table for the drubbing in game 6, in which the Celtics beat the Lakers by 39 points.
4.) Karl Malone in Game 1 of the 1997 NBA finals vs. the Chicago Bulls. Malone missed 2 free-throws with 12 seconds left that would have given the Jazz the lead and a chance to steal home court from the Chicago Bulls. Scottie Pippen walked by Malone and whispered, “the mailman doesn’t deliver on Sundays.” Malone, the MVP that year, went right ahead and peed down his leg and missed both free-throws. The Bulls gained possession and “you know who” hit the game winner as time expired.
3.) LeBron James VS. the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Before LBJ took his talents to South Beach in the summer of 2010, he pulled a disappearing in the biggest game of the season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Makes you wonder if his mind was already on bird watching in Miami, because he looked lost against the Boston Celtics.
2.) Magic “Tragic” Johnson gets ripped to shreds by the media and opponents for his lackluster performance in the “clutch” in the 1984 NBA Finals, his first matchup against rival Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. For some reason he dribbled out the clock when Game 2 was tied and the Lakers lost in overtime. He committed a costly turnover that sent Game 4 to overtime and missed two free throws that would’ve tied the score. The Lakers still made it to Game 7…where Johnson lost the ball with just under a minute remaining, all but sealing the title for the Celtics.
1.) John Starks shoots 2-18 in Game 7 of the 1994 NBA finals, going 0-10 in the 4th quarter. The struggle that night was beyond authentic, as you can see poor John Starks who worked his way up from the CBA, to starting for the New York Knicks. This short highlight pretty much sums up John Starks night, as he was in his own personal hell.
“Perseverance..See the fake hustler rapper..to them..it hurts to hear this. Oh you went platinum?.. yea that’s nice..now let me see you do the same thing twice. Three times, four times..then a couple of mo’ times…please you’re Amateur Night…this is SHOWTIME.” – Nasir Jones.
Why are we always in a rush? Why is there always such haste to see who’s “next”? We love to wax poetically about the potential of certain stars or athletes instead of enjoying what is taking place in front of us in the present time. Why can’t we wait for things to play out instead of jumping to conclusions? The proof is in the pudding, are we judging on potential or on production? The most important aspects about a basketball player are immeasurable. Do they have that indomitable will to compete, the desire to improve, and aspirations to push the game to its threshold? All of these characteristics are what separate Kobe from the pack. He’s mean, he doesn’t care if you like him or not, and most importantly he’s unafraid. If he misses the last shot, so be it. If his teammates and other players around the league don’t like him, who cares? It’s a mentality, it’s a sickness, it’s an affliction to be as driven to win as Kobe Bryant is. There have been so many great talents to play the game, but five championships aren’t for everybody. It’s a mindset; it’s an approach that affects you to the point where nothing else matters but being the ultimate winner. Have you ever looked at Kobe Bryant and thought to yourself, “Man Kobe didn’t get the most he could out of himself.” Yea, didn’t think so.
Kobe Bryant has truly persevered through all of the eras. He came into the league as a high flying 17 year old, and 17 years, 1,448 games and 53,558 minutes played later he is a cold blooded, mid-range assassin. Kobe Bryant, from the beginning, has been ensnared in one comparison after another. Will he better than Michael Jordan? Is he a greater Laker then Jerry West or Magic Johnson? Is he better then Iverson? Vince Carter? T-Mac? And sure enough the LeBron James comparisons soon followed. If the worst thing you can say is, “Well he’s not as good as Jordan”, what are you really saying? If they can only compare you to a ghost, that means that you have no current peer. What LeBron James is doing is incredible, and should be admired, but he and Kobe are not peers. There are so many great players in today’s game, and the NBA is in great hands, but there is something distinct about watching Kobe Bryant compete.
The Best way to describe Kobe Bryant is different. He is dissimilar from most NBA players in every possible way. There’s something regal about his approach to the game, a stately presence that shows that he knows his place in history and how important it is for him to perform at an optimum level every time he takes the court. There never has been or will be a time where he looks out of shape or unprepared, and he’s arguably the most fundamentally sound player in the history of the NBA. He relishes in the fact that everyone who paid for a ticket to get into the arena will have their eyes trained on him, and for better or worse he will go to great lengths to put on a show. Kobe delights in the fact that every player in the NBA is geared up to challenge him every game that he plays in, because he wants to attack them even harder. It’s what he lives for, he carries that predatory instinct that Michael Jordan had before him. He wants to see you at your peak level, bring you to your knees, and then watch you crumble as you succumb to his will. If Kobe could have an 82 game season where every game down to the final 30 seconds he could die and go to heaven. Fans would love to see him trust his teammates more, but when you’ve spent summers in the gym working out from 4 AM to 4 PM, sometimes your belief in yourself trumps the normal protocol of working within the traditional team structure. Why find the open man when you have been taking a thousand shots a day in the summer and your teammate spent all of season partying?
Kobe Bryant AKA the Black Mamba AKA Zero Dark Thirty AKA Vino AKA Mr. 81 points AKA Lord Of The Rings has done it all and then some. He lives for the moment that your favorite player cowers in, and it’s not because he’s super clutch, it’s because he doesn’t care if he misses. He can deal with the glory or the anguish that comes from missing late minute baskets. That’s why the criticism cascades off of him and affects his fans more than it does the man himself. Kobe outscored a LOADED Dallas Maverick team 62-61 after three quarters by his lonesome, removed himself from the game for the 4th quarter, and was roundly criticized for not trying to score more. So what did he do? Three weeks later he shelled the Toronto Raptors for 81 points, but was critiqued for only having two assists. In 2013, in his 17th year in the NBA you can still turn on embarrassingly vapid shows like “First Take” and hear two idiots debating about if a game in mid-January is going to test Kobe’s “clutch gene”, or on a scale of 1 to 10 how disappointed they are that Kobe took 23 shots in a loss. This kind of talk is senseless, his spot is solidified, his legacy already cemented in stone along with players like Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. For better or worse Kobe Bryant remains the NBA’s most interesting player, who’s Swiss-Army Knife like skill set is still wreaking havoc throughout the league. One thing is for sure, Kobe Bryant is officially the last of the Mohicans, a great white shark from a different era and a different NBA landscape, who will be sorely missed once he no longer exists. It’s amazing to watch the current group of young NBA stars flourish, but there is only one Kobe Bryant. He knows that there may be some ten year old kid watching him in the nosebleed seats that might be seeing him play in person for the first and only time, and his play reflects that. He might not have as great a career as Jordan when it’s all said and done, and he might not be as good as LeBron is right now, but it won’t ever be for a lack of effort or preparedness.