Ok where was I? I’m starting to understand what D’Angelo must have experienced when he took almost 15 years to release a follow up to the classic Voodoo album.
19. Len Bias: Just Say No To Drugs! The greatest basketball tragedy of my lifetime is the death of Len Bias before he ever stepped foot on an NBA court. During this era many kids in our area were acting out Less Than Zero every Friday night, but with thoughts of Bias always on my mind, I viewed snorting as a game of Russian roulette and steered well clear. So sad that we never got to see Bias in the Garden going head to head with MJ. Celtics history may have looked different had Lenny survived that fateful night.
18. Hoya Paranoia: Billed as the great showdown between Ewing and Olajuwan, the only thing that I can remember from the ’84 title game was freshman Michael Graham (pictured below) throwing down dunks on anybody in Houston red. Where did he come from and why wasn’t he a 16 and 10 guy in the NBA? The box score shows he was only 7-9 with 14 pts but I can still picture all 7 fg’s thirty something years later. With a little help from Reggie Williams and David Wingate, the Hoyas were able to capture that first title for Coach Thompson.
17. USA Ice Hockey: Do You Believe in Miracles?? Yes!! This was a moment in time when even sun drenched kids in California who had never laced up a pair of ice skates suddenly became hockey fanatics. Watching our amateur boys go beat the evil USSR at their own game was the underdog story of the Century. Within a week I made the trek to Gemco for a hockey set and we had the Los Robles Ct roller hockey league in full swing with pucks flying everywhere.
16. Ewing and Thompson with The Gipper: Do I really need to say anything here?
15. McHale: Disclaimer- I used to have a hard time rooting for the Celts because of my deep dislike of McHale, perhaps because of his likeness to a cross between Frankenstein and Lurch from the Adams Family, but as the years pass I grow more and more appreciative of the amazing post skills that the Celtic great possessed. And wouldn’t it be a treat if the NBA had a modern equivalent to the Celts/76ers rivalry in the first half of the 80’s? I swear the 6 teams added to the league since ’88 really served to dilute the depth of talent on the good rosters.
14. Dr J: There is no denying that watching the Dr dunk on Boston would send me into fits of hysteria and lead to an attempt at popping, locking, dolphin dives and a cubert. For a musical treat, here is Grover Washington Jr’s tribute to Julius Errrrvvvvinnng:
13. Joe Montana: Now we are getting into the heavy stuff. Joe Montana made growing up in Menlo Park, CA in 1982 feel like the center of the universe. There will never be a better QB in my opinion unless somebody goes 5-0 in the big one. Sorry Tommy Brady.
12. Jordan/Sleepy Sam: It doesn’t get any better in my sports universe than Tar Heel basketball in the Jordan/Perkins era. As amazing luck would have it, the ’83-84 team played in my backyard at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion. I remember it felt like The Stones were coming and I had my mom race me over from school to sit in line for about 5 hrs to get some general admission seats. I was hoping to see total Carolina domination, but the Tar Heels had to grind out an 88-75 victory over the pesky Cardinal.
11. Jordan ’84 Olympics: Before there was the ’92 Dream Team, there was the ’84 amateur dream team lead by MJ. Coached by Bobby Knight, the team featured MJ, Ewing, Perkins, Mullin, Wayman Tisdale, Alvin Robertson and the beef of Joe Kleine and Jon Koncak. This team was so good future ’92 Dream Team members Charles Barkley and John Stockton were cut. I remember racing for the sports page on a daily basis to read about the trials and then their run through the Olympic tourney to Gold.