Fave 5 - Basketball moments

In about 40 minutes, the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship tips off, and Team USA plays its first game tonight at 11 p.m. (live on ESPN Classic). I’m excited not just because Team USA should roll through this event, but because I get to watch basketball again. I’ve been stuck with nothing but baseball (and some lame preseason football) for two months now.

With the return of competitive basketball to our world, it seemed like a good time to reflect upon my favorite basketball moments that I’ve seen live. Now, when I say live, I mean “as it happened” not “in person.” I haven’t been to many memorable basketball games in person, so this list is pretty much just stuff I was watching on TV. It doesn’t make them any less special.

Plus, thanks to the magic of iWeb 2.0, I can embed YouTube clips of these moments. Go iWeb!

5. Rik Smits’ game-winner vs Magic in 1995 Eastern Conference Finals
This was a great shot that came at the end of a great sequence, where each team had thought it already hit the game-winning shot. I was rooting for the Magic in this one, and couldn’t believe that freakin’ Rik Smits beat them. Orlando did go on to win the series.

4. Derek Fisher’s game-winner vs Spurs in 2004 Western Conference Semis
I was watching this one at home and I remember my immediate thought after Duncan made his shot (after thinking “holy crap, how’d he make that”) was “there’s still 0.4 left -- just enough time for a catch-and-shoot.” Never in a million years did I think anyone, much less Derek Fisher, would make it.

3. Vince Carter wins the dunk contest
OK, I know this isn’t from a game, but anyone who saw this happen live knew they were watching something special. The dunk everyone points to is the bounce pass through the legs dunk, but the one I really remember is the arm in the rim dunk. After he did it, there was just this silence at first like “what just happened?” Then they showed the replay and you knew exactly what happened, and still couldn’t believe it.

2. LeBron James vs Pistons in Game 5 of 2007 Eastern Conference Finals
Speaking of things you couldn’t believe, how about this game? LeBron James scored every point for the Cavaliers down the stretch, proving that yes, you can’t get through Detroit training in a pool. I’ve written about this before, but it bears mention again: in the research room, by the time we’d realize LeBron was on a scoring streak, we figured it’d end eventually. Only it never did. The best part of this video (aside from LeBron winning the game) is seeing Tayshaun Prince cower in fear at the 33 second mark. Give the ball to LeBron and get out of the way.

1. Michael Jordan’s final shot vs Jazz
Seriously, was there ever any doubt. I was watching this in my parents basement in 1998 (my bedroom at the time). I was focused entirely on the TV. The house could have been burning down and I wouldn’t have moved until this shot hit nothing but net.