The recent retirements of Grant Hill and Jason Kidd brought me back to the first basketball video game I ever played: NBA Live 95 for Windows 95. (Here’s the cover and the back listing all the cool features!) Though much of it is a blur, I still a remember a handful of things from that game:
1. The ugliness I thought of Seattle’s jerseys. No worries, I love them now.
2. The flat top of Alonzo Mourning. Even with the graphics back then, Mourning stuck out like a sore thumb.
3. How confused I was when Michael Jordan wasn’t in the game. My parents bought me the game in 1996, though the version of me back then didn’t remember a time when Jordan wasn’t in the NBA. Naturally, I threw a hissy fit when the Chicago Bulls’ starting lineup featured Will Perdue and B.J. Armstrong. It super sucked. (Something I said, probably.)
4. I thought Greg Anderson, the center for the Atlanta Hawks in 1995, was the same Greg Anderson who was my next door neighbor. He wasn’t.
5. The fun I had with my friends playing the game (and also NBA Live 97 and 98) with no rules. The shoving you could do with players was hysterical.
Both Jason Kidd and Grant Hill were rookies during the 1994-95 season, but I didn’t know they existed when I was ballin’ out on NBA Live 95. In an attempt to make up for that, I decided to acknowledge their impact on the league by making a 10-player Big Board and use it to rank the best players from the 1994 NBA Draft:
1. Jason Kidd – Drafted 2nd by the Dallas Mavericks
His passes were a lot like LeBron’s. They were so good so often there came a point when you took them for granted. Also have to credit him for winning a gold medal for USA Basketball two separate times and eight years apart. He’ll be in the Hall of Fame, just like…
2. Grant Hill – Drafted 3rd by the Detroit Pistons
He could’ve been a better version of Scottie Pippen had his entire career been like his first six seasons. Like what’s already been said many times though, Hill continued playing, despite other opinions from his doctors, and carved out a solid career by transforming his game.
3. Eddie Jones – Drafted 10th by the Los Angeles Lakers
Another one of my favorite players from the ’90s, but I never really paid attention to Jones after the Lakers traded him. He also was featured in this commercial from 1997, starring Shaq. It was way better than Kazaam.
4. Juwan Howard – Drafted 5th by the Washington Bullets
5. Glenn Robinson – Drafted 1st by the Milwaukee Bucks
Every time I look at his basketball-reference page I can’t get over his 30 point-10 rebound average in his last year at Purdue. Robinson also signed the richest rookie contract in NBA history at 10-years, $68 million. Money in the bank.
One of the best mid-range shooters in his prime, Robinson was a two-time All-Star and one of my favorite players of the 90s. I still remember his basketball card and the rest of the Dream Team II in a Sports Illustrated for Kids issue. They were literally made out of cardboard, but I pretended it was gold.
6. Jalen Rose – Drafted 13th by the Denver Nuggets
A versatile player in his prime who could play point forward, Rose played for six NBA teams, though I only remember him on three of them (Indiana, Chicago, and Toronto).
7. Brian Grant – Drafted 9th by the Sacramento Kings
One of the best energy players in his prime with some of the best hair the NBA will ever see. Google Images, man. Google Images.
8. Donyell Marshall – Drafted 4th by the Minnesota Timberwolves
He has a soft spot in my heart because Minnesota traded him for the Googs, Tom Gugliotta.
And then there’s this:
Chill out, LeBron James.
9. Wesley Person — drafted 23rd by the Phoenix Suns.
When I first came across him in NBA Live 97, I thought it was so cool that his last name was actually Person.
10. Lamond Murray – Drafted 7th by the Los Angeles Clippers
My favorite Clipper of the 90s for no real reason other than he never missed a three-pointer for me in NBA Live 97.
Honorable mention: Eric Piatkowski – drafted 15th by the Indiana Pacers
He was the real-life Billy Hoyle from White Men Can’t Jump.