On June 12, 1991, Michael's Chicago Bulls beat Magic's Lakers to win their first title ever. Before the next season started, Magic would announce that had HIV and would retire. Magic briefly returned to the NBA 5 years later, but it was just a 17 game tour.
the other night while watching my new favorite show, the NBA channel's "hardwood classics". They were showing that game. i was afraid it would be sad, but it was incredible.
the lakers were down 3 games to 1, so the series was clearly going chicago's way. but the game was in LA, and the lakers played well. this was a different laker team than the current version. when they lost a series (or a championship), they lost clawing and fighting. to their last breath.
chicago was better. their defense was scary: long arms, quick hands, tall players and fast guards. but magic's triple-double kept them in it (16 points, 20 assists, 11 rebounds, in 48 minutes). but he didn't have anyone else to carry the load. worthy and scott were injured in the previous game, kareem was retired, kobe was 12.
what i noticed most were 3 things:
- "magic can take 3 shots and still dominate a game". Dr J said that. its true. the lakers played an NBA finals game, without 2 of their top 3 scorers. the other (magic) took 12 shots. and they were in the game til the last minute. there was just something about that guy that made his team better. elden campbell and terry teagle shouldn't be trading punches with scottie pippen and michael jordan, but they were.
- scottie pippen was sick. sick. he was as good as anyone on the floor. he could take it to the rack anytime he wanted. his arms made him 7'4". he could rebound. he could shoot. i didn't find a flaw with his game.
- this game was a passing of the torch, quite literally. the sport has a long history of great players, who defined their era, passing the role to the next guy. wilt and russell dominated, and then came kareem. bird and magic dominated, until bird's dominance ended prematurely. he even called out the moment (in the middle of the '87 finals) saying "he's the best there is" about magic after his game 4 winning shot. jordan watched magic and bird dominate for years, even though he was clearly the most exciting and talented player in the league. with this game, jordan took the throne. what i noticed most about jordan was that he could score constantly. not only because he could get to the rim every time, but because he had to. he played with an intensity that set him apart.
also obvious in watching jordan, is how much kobe plays like him. almost identical. the drop step, the drive-hang-and-wait, the jumper, and the intensity. and like his mentor, his intensity sets him apart. some mock kobe for this mimicry, but another perspective is that we're lucky. after losing michael, we got kobe.