NBA on NBC Returns?
If you’re a living, breathing NBA fan aged 21-45, you LIVED for the NBA on NBC. You hated ABC and ESPN for giving the NBA the Godfather Offer for broadcast rights in 2002. You were wistful when the 2002 Finals were over, because it marked the end of that particular incarnation of NBC’s coverage of the NBA. I knew things would never be the same. I cursed Disney, ABC and ESPN because of it. How could I not? We LIVED for those Sunday TRIPLEHEADERS. The music. The suspenseful intros by Bob Costas and Marv Albert. The plot lines. The rivalries. The NBA on NBC was an EVENT. You did not miss a game unless you were on your deathbed, or someone close to you was, or you were forced to work or in mid-air traveling. Whenever you heard (and still do) hear the John Tesh jingle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PR7cd_N2LPU, you look for a TV because you could be missing a game. You were programmed for 12 years to think this way. Wives and girlfriends hated Sunday afternoons because you watched basketball from noon until almost 9 pm every week. And even on some Saturdays, there would be doubleheaders. This was the life.
With such legendary commentary game in and game out, from the likes of the aforementioned Costas and Albert, but also Steve “Snapper” Jones and Bill Walton — whose back and forth banter during games became the stuff of legend as well, the NBA took off to unprecedented heights in the 1990s.
Now that the NBA re-upped (all about money, Disney/ABC/ESPN offered more than double what NBC originally offered, and NBC was hemorrhaging losses from 1999-2002 due to Michael Jordan’s second retirement) with ABC until 2015-2016, we will not see the NBA on NBC again — if ever, at least until that time. I hope they bring the music with them. Enough of us should petition the league as well as Dick Ebersol and the other powers-that-be at NBC Sports to let them know how much we HATE watching ABC/ESPN’s coverage of the NBA (apologies to Jeff Van Gundy, the only worthwhile analyst they have other than my other personal fave behind Marv Albert, Hubie Brown).
Such memorable classics as the clinching Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals, including the Phoenix Suns vs. the Chicago Bulls were epic battles in the NBA while airing on NBC. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ3pYT6S2TI .
Another great moment was Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals featuring Portland Trail Blazers vs. Chicago Bulls shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=med9nvhCkao . Marv Albert, the VOICE of New York Knicks basketball from 1967-2004, and the greatest of all time in sports broadcasting, was on the call. His call on Michael Jordan’s 6th three-pointer was epic and still gives people chills (especially those who were watching the game live as I was with my dad and two of my best friends). My dad and I have watched some of the best games in the history of the NBA since 1985. Jordan hitting those three even made my dad shake his head in amazement (as Jordan was not known as a 3 point shooter up until that time). Jordan’s shrug at Marv, the Czar of the Telestrator (Mike Fratello) and Magic Johnson is an enduring image in NBA annals. Marv’s call further drove Jordan’s legend: “DID YOU SEE THAT LOOK??? Michael… INDICATING… HE CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!!”
Some of the other more memorable high points of the NBA on NBC (1990-2002) are as follows:
1991 NBA Eastern Conference First Round. Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks. Game 3. At “The Garden”. Jordan’s famous dunk on Ewing and Oakley. He also had 33 points in the game. Yawn. It was on MSG and not NBC at the time. I miss that old MSG substitution horn and the dim lights at the Garden. God, can we have these days back??? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vysHGJTU1fo. On the Bulls’ local coverage, check out Johnny “Red” Kerr’s reaction (which was typical) to Jordan’s dunk. He sounded like he just got bit by a pack of pit bulls. R.I.P. Red Kerr. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HDdT1oBcXA . I was watching that game live also and I hate how Knick/Pat Ewing haters like to talk about it to this day. No one fouled Jordan on that play.
1991 NBA Finals. Chicago Bulls vs. Los Angeles Lakers. Game 5. This is a classic NBA on NBC intro. Listen to the music. Listen to Costas’ narration. Look at the slow motion images. YOU WERE READY TO WATCH AN EPIC CONTEST after this. The NBA on NBC rivaled the NBA on CBS (for those of us who are able to remember its coverage throughout the 80s with Dick Stockton and Tom Heinsohn, and later Hubie Brown — where he debuted his trademark use of “Second Person/Coachspeak” color analysis in games, which those who know me, know I love and do an excellent imitation of).
Here is the link for that
1991 NBA Finals: Chicago Bulls vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Game 5 (Bulls Clinch). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqXdiz57Jd0 .
This also happened in that series. Game 2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DT1yNyRwd7w My dad said it was “unnecessary” when we were watching it, but my boys Chico and Butter and I all loved it — and proceeded to go outside and imitate it on the basketball court the next day. Again, Marv Albert with the great call. “OHHHHH… and spec-TACULAR move… by Michael… Jordan!!!”
1992 NBA All-Star Game. This stands out because it was just three months after Earvin “Magic” Johnson shocked the world in November 1991 with his HIV diagnosis. Magic did play in this game, however. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd61FTNQw9w . There are 18 total parts to this video, I’m providing the first part.
1992 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks. Player intros by Mike Walczewski. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5TRpklR0eE
1992 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks. We were supposed to beat the Bulls that year. We lose in Game 7. There are MANY enduring images from this series. The biggest being Michael Jordan finishing over Patrick Ewing and Xavier McDaniel, who fouled Jordan — while Jordan seemingly hung in the air for 10 seconds. Jordan comes down, yelling, screaming and pumping his fists at Ewing and McDaniel, who had both fallen while Jordan maintained his footing. I was both pissed and somewhat pleased. It was hard being a Knick fan in the 1990s. MORE SO THAN IT HAS BEEN THROUGHOUT THE 2000s.
Here’s Game 4 of that series, from an electric Madison Square Garden (it’s a mausoleum now). Notice some patented things here: Jordan’s overall excellence. Pippen’s clutch play. Phil Jackson and his fiery temper getting technicals. “Johnnnn STARKS!” (as our Public Address Announcer, Mike Walczewski used to say it at MSG) and his great shooting, and “PAT-rick Ewing” (also a “Wally” trademark call — you can hear it as Ewing hits his PATENTED baseline jump shot at 00:18). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IejJaBdz6W8 . Great game. Great series. I was crushed. No one was beating the Bulls that year if we didn’t.
Game 3 was probably the best. Featuring Jordan standing over Ewing and McDaniel as I previously mentioned. Check that out at 6:29-7:13. By the way, I loved NBC for those still, slow-motion replays with the grainy/jumping footage. WHO DID NOT LOVE THIS? I dare you to stand up. I will eviscerate you. I still get chills. I had that still photo as my profile picture. It is forever etched in my mind. We weren’t going to beat them. Even though this was ONLY Game 3. Ewing had a terrible game, I do recall. I watched this game with my dad and my boys, as usual, but I felt very sour after this one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GcsNhxezpU
1993 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Game 5. Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks. Jordan kills us with 54 points. I want to kill someone. I was a Jordan fan. I liked to see him do his thing, just NOT AGAINST US. A lot of people thought I was a Bulls fan, but I wanted to do someone harm after the ’93 ECF. We were SUPPOSED to win that year. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKOkNZ4Yzto .
1993 NBA Finals. Chicago Bulls vs. Phoenix Suns. Game 6 (Bulls Clinch). Jordan had five great games leading up to this. He also had scored all nine of the Bulls’ points in a pitiful 4th quarter until John Paxson hit the 3 point shot heard ’round the world. Marv Albert: “Here’s Paxson for threeeeee… YES!!!” LOL@Costas’ intro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ3pYT6S2TI .
1994 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Game 5. Reggie kills us in the 4th. BTW, I always loved the organ that old man Eddie played after Patrick Ewing scored. “Pa-trick Ewing (two beats on the organ). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7L1lruNCfk .
1994 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Game 7. We clinch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xei7sJimqzI
1994 NBA Finals. Houston Rockets vs. New York Knicks. Game 5. Series overshadowed by OJ’s murderin’ ass. Best Knicks Intro. EVER. “ANNNNNNNNNNND at center, at 7’0″ from Georgetown…. Number 33, COOOO-CAPTAIN… PAAAAAAAA-TRICK EWING!!!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0RwVBgIfew .
1995 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Game 1. Reggie Miller scores 8 points in the last 8 seconds of the game. Pushes Greg Anthony after making a 3, and hits another (along with 2 FTs). “TIE GAMMMMMEEE-UH!!! No need to foul in THAT situationnnnnnn-uh!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCEsVa3ZBZA
1995 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Game 7. Patrick Ewing misses an EASY layup that would have won it for the Knicks. I nearly busted my TV set at my parents’ BBQ that day. Memorial Day Weekend, 1995. SHEESH. I cannot find video for it and rightfully so. It would be like watching Lawrence Taylor break Joe Theismann’s leg all over again on Monday Night Football in 1985. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yn9wj3e6Uw. Imagine being 6 years old and seeing that, as I did?
1997 Regular Season. Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks. Typical Knicks/Bulls game. Typical NBA on NBC intro. Typical NBA on NBC buildup. TYPICAL GREAT GAME. Pat had it “taking place” (as Kenny Mayne says). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwBtey9cnDM
1997 Regular Season. Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks. A compilation of that season. This is posted just to show you Wally’s PA skills when introducing my Knicks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8Y_P3hpeNQ .
1997 Eastern Conference Semifinals. New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat. The league cheats and suspends all our star players (including Ewing, Houston, Larry Johnson and Stark) for either Game 6 and/or Game 7, meanwhile the Heat only lose PJ Brown, who was only a role player for Miami — along with JVG (Jeff Van Gundy for non-NBA people) hanging by Alonzo Mourning’s ankles ha (albeit that was in the ’98 Playoffs). And we lose the series due to this fight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGD_ym_hb1M
1997 NBA Western Conference Finals. Barkley chokes again. John Stockton makes the most clutch shot in Utah Jazz history to send the Jazz to the NBA Finals for the first time ever. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcVzcPOP0Sw .
1997 NBA Finals. Utah Jazz vs. Chicago Bulls. Game 5. “THE FLU GAME”. We were huddled in a room in Freeport, Bahamas watching this. About 30 of us. Brendan Haywood was in the house with us. Marv Albert: “Jordan… he… he… he looks like…a… a… boxer…” Jordan had a game FOR THE AGES. Malone was a fag for not making the heady play late. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2os-hfXSUlA .
1998 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers. Game 3. Reggie Miller has one of the best games of his life, making it a series again. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJrTGf0Wcgg .
1998 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers. Game 6. Reggie does it again. Pushes Jordan off and hits the clincher. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htSWwyrxUIA .
1998 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers. Game 7. The culmination of a great (and very underrated) series. People did not give the Pacers a shot, but they pushed the aging Bulls to the brink. Jordan was 35 at the time, you will recall. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnKINLUaFj4 .
1998 NBA Finals. Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz. Game 6 (Bulls Clinch). Michael Jordan, with what should’ve been his defining capstone shot for his career, hits the game-winning, SERIES/NBA FINALS-CLINCHING, picture-perfect jumper from 18 (after pushing off Bryon Russell) and poses after the perfect switch. He tarnished the ending of his career by coming back once more to play for the Washington Wizards in 2001, however, this shot lives on in infamy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkDUY6fu7Uk
1999 NBA Eastern Conference First Round. New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat. Game 5 (Knicks Clinch). Allan Houston saves the day with the best Game Winning shot of his career. Payback for the Heat stealing the 1997 NBA title shot from us with the suspensions of our key players. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ex-U50tT4aI . 8th seed Knicks defeat the “Top Seeded” Miami Heat. PAYBACK.
1999 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Indiana Pacers vs. New York Knicks. Game 3. My guys. Latrell Sprewell (who I am nicknamed after by the guys I played ball with from ’00-’04) and my BOY Allan Houston. Knicks at home, with the greatest introductions known to mankind. Pat was out, after that OAF Andrew Lang tried to end his career (and effectively did). LMAO@BILL WALTON. Calling out Rik Smits 4:02-4:18. NAILLLLED to the floor. “A flagrant fouler who has fouled out of both gammmmmmes-uh”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RZJGCCuC7E . NO ONE CAN TOP THE KNICKS’ STARTING LINEUP INTRODUCTIONS. I don’t care WHAT the Bulls did in the 90s, the Knicks with WALLY on the PA was the best ever. I loved how he said “PA-TRICK EWING!” (although Ewing was out with the wrist injury).
1999 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Indiana Pacers vs. New York Knicks. Game 3 — the final minute. Larry Johnson (making the “LJ” sign with his arms, which we Knick fans loved, but BILL WALTON HATED). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yn9wj3e6Uw .
1999 NBA Western Conference Finals. Portland Trail Blazers vs. San Antonio Spurs. Game 2. Back when I thought the Blazers were snake bitten or something. They had some great teams from 1998-2002. Sean Elliott MANAGES to keep his heels inbounds somehow. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1EL38SKyX8 .
2000 NBA Western Conference Finals. Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers. Game 7. I was mad. The Blazers blew this series. They were up 3-2 in the series. Blew Game 6. Blew Game 7 with a 15 point lead. This is the last segment of that game. I was mad because my dude Steve Smith was on that team and I wanted him to get a ring (he eventually did with the 2005 Spurs). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKLg6ewgs20 .
2001 NBA Finals. Philadelphia 76ers vs. Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1. Allen Iverson BUSTS the Lakers for 48 points for the win. ***Listen to PA Announcer Lawrence Tanter, my favorite after Mike Walczewski for the Knicks — calls the names out when teams score. “… Allen Iverson…”*** The only game the Sixers would win, however. Lakers go on to win the 2nd of their 3rd straight NBA titles in 2001. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79WSHpMU894 .
Let’s start a petition to get the NBA on NBC back!