NBA / Jun 13, 2011 / 5:15 pm

25 Greatest Things About The NBA: The Birthday Post

Michael Jordan

This weekend, on a 90-degree day that seemed to shuffle between gray clouds and blinding sunlight, we got after it. Beers and pizza. There was the head coach, the assistants, the volunteers and the graduate assistants, the whole football staff my dad coaches on. It was for me, red and peeling from way too much sun.

Amazing how everything turns out; my birthday parties as a kid growing up were nothing but basketball and ice cream cake. We used to spend all day playing, stacking up two teams and playing seven-game series. We had introductions, cameras if we could find them and fights. The kind of fights that pick up for about 20 seconds – “You did it on purpose!”…”You stole my ball!” – and then die down without any real friction, us forgetting about it three minutes later. Basically every NBA tussle since 1997.

Those were the days, when rain meant nothing but a delay, and darkness was just a call to man up and go harder.

So here I was this weekend, chilling, sitting back with a Coors Light in my hand, being unable to escape the constant ambush: “Damn, I’m 25 years old.”

You grow up thinking certain things, and then after college or after high school or whenever you stop playing for real, you realize some things:

*** There are bigger things in life than sports
*** All those late Friday nights in the gym by yourself throwing behind-the-back passes off the wall were more about building character rather than skill
*** Defining yourself w/ one thing? Stupid, feeling like Mike Tyson after Buster Douglas and now you find yourself in an identity crisis, inking designs on your temple and singing Phil Collins in hyped-up frat boy party movies
*** The Kings probably did get cheated in Game 6
*** You can still play, but nothing will ever feel the same. You’ll never feed off the crowd again, you’ll never get the rush of playing the crew from across the way that hates you, nothing will ever come close again to being 16 and thinking you’re going to the NBA and talking so much s#%^ because you always thought you were better than you actually were.

So with that, I decided to think back and make a list: the 25 greatest things about the NBA for my 25th birthday…

*** *** ***

25. Chris “Birdman” Andersen

24. High Socks
(Or the lack thereof) Whoever killed this fad needs to be rewarded. Throw them a bone. Thank God. I can’t even bear to look at some of my old tapes when I used to wear them. This is the one reason I can find to hate Jason Terry.

23. 2008 Boston Celtics
They gave me someone to hate.

22. YouTube videos
Seriously, what did NBA fans do before 2005? The microscope is SO much bigger now, and it can zero in on nearly anything. Want to know how Dwight Howard can be shutdown by Jason freakin’ Collins? Want to relieve T-Mac‘s 13 in 35 over and over? Want to breakdown how Mike Miller‘s game started to deteriorate once he got a pet monkey? YouTube it. Seriously, think about how the history of this game would be altered if YouTube was always around? All of these so-called “quitters” wouldn’t be the only ones labeled that – Kobe, Game 7, ’06 first round vs. Phoenix, LeBron, Game 5 ’10 semis vs. Boston – because we would have video evidence of other players doing the same thing.

21. Gilbert Arenas before he fell apart

20. The metamorphosis from plodding centers to versatile, jack-of-all-trades players

19 & 18. PA announcer (John Mason) from Detroit…

…& The GOAT intros

17. T-Mac/VC Before They Went Downhill

16. Golden State, 2007

15. 2002 WCF
As you get older, you can better wrap your mind around myths that you hung onto growing up. Sacramento getting a fair shake in Game 6 is one of them.

14. Kevin Garnett

13. 2009, Bulls vs. Celtics, Eastern Conference First Round
Put it this way: watching the triple overtime Game 6 in a dorm room my senior year of undergrad, after the first half ended, I drank four rum-n-cokes, ate about two-thirds of my boy’s pizza, played three or four games of beer pong in a double-elimination tournament, had to withstand the inevitable influence of annoying females attempting to downplay the game or turn the channel altogether, got dressed, showered, was ready to head out and Joakim Noah STILL hadn’t gone coast-to-coast yet.

12. Phil Jackson
He’s the Liam Neeson of the NBA. First, he taught Obi-Wan the Force, taught him how to be mindful of the future but not at the expense of the moment. Obi-Wan was persistent, but he wasn’t inpatient. He knew right from wrong, and just needed some guidance. That was Mr. Neeson.

Then, Liam taught Batman. Batman had a fragile foundation, a past that nearly drove him insane. He was often his own worst enemy. He looked for shortcuts, quicker ways to get the revenge he wanted. By this point, Neeson, or Henri Ducard, taught him well, but didn’t cover everything. He had done this before and blindly believed Batman would just follow along.

Phil coached two of the greatest players ever, and made them even better. And they won.

11. Nick Anderson
If Anderson never slaps the ball away, never tugs on Superman’s cape, never beats Chicago and makes MJ look mortal, maybe we never see 72 wins, another MVP and the most dominating season in NBA history.

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  • Nick

    I’m going to be 25 in two weeks. I couldn’t of summed it up any better myself with the intro. Man, I miss those birthday parties. We had two adjustable hoops in the neighborhood and ran 3-on-3 dunk hoop leagues all summer long. When it got too dark to play we got the keys to the parents’ cars and played by headlight until the neighbors came out and said it was too loud.

  • gMuNeeKLIK

    Wow what a great article… That was simply amazing and reminds me of why I fell in love with the game. My fondest memory of basketball was meeting the raptors in 96; my first game ever this was when they were playing at the skydome. Thank you Sean for reminding me why I love this game, keep it up with the great articles!

  • Chris Mosca

    Just turned 25 3 weeks ago. Great article, all to familiar to me. Basketball Sunday-Monday. May not have been like that without a guy like MJ. Also, Lebron haters: chill out. Too much. Too much.

  • sh!tfaced

    well played. cheers.

  • north

    I love/d White Chocolate but how can anyone throw a JW mixtape together without the elbow pass?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-Vq-DO86RE

  • Bks1358

    Great article. I’m from argentina, and I have 27. Feel the same in many things you said. Specially hating 2008 celtics… Add to the list 2000 san francisco slam dunk contest, and red/white tai chi’s…

  • Celts Fan

    nice article Sean. I was at that Bulls Celtics game. We left with such hope for the future. It was the high point of the Pitino era. smh

  • M.L.

    I would say T-Mac 13 points in 35 seconds, i turned from the game. A lil later i turned back couldn’t believe what i was seening. J Rich when he won the slam dunk Championship some of the stuff dude did was insane. Ai carrying those wack teammates of his to the Finals in 01.

  • LFP

    @north

    great shout, such a sick pass. Jason Williams is one of the most fun NBA players ever, most of his passes were ridiculous!

  • SkyGriever

    Man I was tearing up watching the GOATs intro and the J-Will video. Being here in Puerto Rico I never could go to one of the games but I always watched them on tv. I remember having that blind faith that Jordan wouldn’t let his team lose those Finals. Great article man.

  • Ugly

    Just turned 25 on Thursday. I can’t tell you how many weekends I spent watching NBA games on abc and NBC while my baby teeth fell out. MJ drove so many to play ball til your parents were ready to put a missing persons call out. Ive been checking out dime since the day you guys first came out and continue to do so everyday. Don’t usually post much but a great article and know there are plenty out there who feel/think the same way.

  • bigger_dady

    i see that some of the regular posters here are not commenting, probably the ‘age’ factor… haha.

    as always, good article man. i started to love the nba when my old man showed those clips of pistol pete and magic runnong the show.

    prime love was when shawn kemp entered the sonics and when jordan left the bulls leaving pip to carry the bulls. never had the feeling that i liked jordan, although he was good, guess too good that i had already this mindset that no one can beat him, and therefore proudly rooted for utah to beat them on the second attempt.

  • https://www.sportsbetting.com.au/basketball_betting dcyrilcasa

    I had fun reading this entry. Great Job. Michael Jordan is the reason I love the game of basketball.

  • http://www.conradburry.com Conrad

    Great read…I turned 25 this past March, and I am with you on all of your points. I’ll 2nd the above comment about the 2000 SDC being amazing. I’ll also say that The Diesel has been a favorite part of my NBA memories, with his dominance and entertaining personality (even though i HATE the lakers). Finally, a comment about the future of the game: Thank you, God, for Blake Griffin, who i hope follows in Shaq’s footsteps with dominance and a winning personality…Thx again for the retrospective, Sean.

  • True words

    Wow I turn 25 next week, & this article was on time like an MJ fade away. Fondest memory Utah vs Chicago mj’s 1st last go, every one in my crib was in they space watching the same game: pops, mom dukes, lil bruh, & big sis! Next thing you know mj cross-over/ push off on b Russell pull up jumper splash with the pose crazy!!! every body in the crib running around going crazy & we sixers fans! That was what Mj did every one watched the game because of him. So thank lebron b/c with out him you & your mom couldn’t talk about basketball!

  • beiber newz

    pippen retracted ! go jordan !!!!!!!!!!! good picture