Uncertain of if and when the NBA lockout will end I've resorted to watching old games on NBA TV. There have been some classic match ups. I watched Isaiah go nuts on the Lakers in 88', Allen Iverson put on a clinic against the Knicks in 97' and Jordan take out Charles Barkley in 93' All of those were fantastic games that brought back a lot of memories, but last night I watched the most important game in the history of the league.
Game 7 of the 2000 Western conference finals was epic. The Portland Trailblazers had put together a team of crafty veterans anchored by the great Scottie Pippen while the Los Angeles Lakers countered with two young superstars by the name of Shaq and Kobe. Two formidable opponents with one common goal, basketball supremacy.
I remember the game like it was yesterday. Naturally I was pulling for the Lakers and chose to watch the game in a room full of Laker Haters. I wanted to rub it in after the Lakers broke their hearts. Through 3 quarters it appeared I would be sadly disappointed.
Down by 12 in the 4th quarter a funny thing happened. Portland couldn't hit a shot and the Lakers couldn't miss. The lead was cut to 10, then 7, then 5, then 1. It was sheer beauty to see the young superstars pull it all together and stake their claim as the NBA's elite players. The comeback was punctuated with an emphatic alley oop dunk from Kobe to Shaq and Laker Nation was born.
Had the Portland Trailblazers not completely choked down the stretch Scottie Pippen would have one more championship than Michael Jordan and Shaq and Kobe may have never reached their full potential. Instead the dynamic duo went on to win multiple championships (4 and 5 respectively) and establish themselves as the NBA's most dominant players.
Rarely does a game change the course of history so significantly and foreshadow greatness like game 7 of the 2000 Western conference finals. Without it the world would be a different place.