Category Archives: Reminiscing

The top 10 players from the 1994 NBA Draft

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

Hoop Dreams, the Fab Five, the cabbage patch, a web site devoted to his overreactions; solid career, Juwan Howard.

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.

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Life when the Spurs last made the NBA Finals

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Geoff Livingston | Flickr

Before finishing the sweep of Memphis last night, 2007 was the last time the San Antonio Spurs made an NBA Finals appearance. That feels like yesterday and forever ago at the same time. For someone now approaching their mid-20s (really depressing admitting that), 2007 to 2013 were times of major change that happened way too quick. Most of my best friends back in 2007, both in high school and college, are ones I haven’t spoken to in years.

But there’s more to 2007 than just depressing memories, and that’s what the NBA is for! Here’s how I looked at the NBA and other aspects of life back then:

NBA

If I have a soft spot for anything in 2007, it’s that Kevin Garnett was traded that off-season to a contending team. Trading Garnett is all I ever wanted after Minnesota imploded in 2005 followed by the likes of Ricky Davis, Marcus Banks, and Marko Jaric playing at the Target Center the next two years. I don’t know how Garnett put up with it, but I’m glad 2008 happened. That’s all at another post for another time, specifically when Garnett retires.

Back to 2007.

Dirk Nowitzki being awarded as the 2007 MVP got awkward really fast, right? I remember the feeling of doom for the Mavs as they were being overtaken by Baron Davis and the Warriors. It was like they would never be the same and Dirk was going to be the next Karl Malone. That’s before he was even named MVP. It was similar with the Miami Heat last year after losing Game 5 versus Boston, but both the Mavericks and Heat bounced back. It took Dirk and Dallas four years while LeBron and Miami only needed two days.

But back in 2007, both Dirk and LeBron were at a weird stage in their careers. Dirk had an unfair Karl Malone tag on him while LeBron put in one of the greatest playoff performances ever in Game 5 at Detroit. The expectations of LeBron being the next Michael Jordan went from ridiculous to still ridiculous to believable, but still a bit ridiculous for many reasons. Now both players have their own places among the NBA’s best ever. Six years ago, there was a chance they would’ve been remembered differently.

Also having its place in history is this highlight from the 2007 playoffs:

What else was the NBA like in 2007?

  • Brandon Roy was Rookie of the Year. Sigh.
  • Caron Butler made the All Star Game along with Josh Howard, Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur. Only the last two were injury replacements. Really.
  • Walter Herrmann made the All-Rookie 2nd Team. So did Adam Morrison.
  • The Hornets/Pelicans played their final season in Oklahoma City.
  • Did I mention Kevin Garnett was still a Minnesota Timberwolf? Pau Gasol was also a Grizzly.
  • The Toronto Raptors won more games than the Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics combined.

Actually, look at the records of the top eight Eastern Conference teams that year. Only three were in the playoffs this season:

1. Detroit Pistons 59-23
2. Cleveland Cavaliers 50-32
3. Toronto Raptors 47-35
4. Miami Heat 44-38
5. Chicago Bulls 49-33
6. New Jersey Nets 41-41
7. Washington Wizards 41-41
8. Orlando Magic 40-42

The West wasn’t as different as it is now. Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and Dirk remain on the same teams though Phoenix was still chasing a title at 61-21, Utah won 51 games, and the Lakers were just 42-40. Wait, that’s like this year’s Lakers. The Spurs were just being the Spurs: winning in not-so flashy ways all the way up to their championship. Like ESPN, I kind of buried them in this post even though they were the champs of 2007. I’ll never understand why ESPN treats the Spurs like they’re in the NHL.

Also, Miami’s title defense in 2007 was a joke. They suffered a sweep to Chicago and started their season with a 42-point loss against them. Dallas performed a similar crappy title defense five years later, though their roster went through major changes. 2007 Miami was probably what a few people continue to expect from San Antonio each year: For age to kick in.

Last but not least, here are some notable players who retired following the 2007 season:

It was also Chris Webber’s last relevant year. He only played nine games in 2008 for Golden State.

Overall, 2007 was the last of what felt like a three-year NBA grace period, in my casual-fan opinion. The end of the Lakers’ Kobe-Shaq era in 2004 started it and the Celtics’ Big Three era ended it. Just look at the Finals matchups from 2005 to 2007. Three of the possible six teams were the ’05 and ’07 Spurs and the ’05 Pistons. They weren’t exactly must-see TV for the casual fan. The other three: the ’06 Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks and the ’07 Cavaliers, and it was inevitable that the Spurs would sweep Cleveland in 2007. But that summer was David Stern’s wet dream. Basketball in Boston came back. Eventually, the Lakers would turn into a contender too.

Freaking Kwame Brown.

Other notable sporting events in 2007

  • Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and the rest of the Florida Gators repeated as NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball champions. Kevin Durant and Greg Oden were freshmen in college.
  • Candice Parker was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament.
  • The Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
  • Track and field star Marion Jones surrenders the five Olympic medals she won in the 2000 Sydney Games after admitting to doping.

Notable video games

  • Guitar Hero II
  • Mario Party 8
  • Halo 3
  • Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground
  • Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
  • Need for Speed: ProStreet
  • Rock Band

Notable albums

  • Graduation, by Kanye West
  • Taylor Swift, by Taylor Swift
  • Minutes to Midnight, by Linkin Park
  • Konvicted, by Akon

Notable hits that radio may or may not have killed

  • “Ayo Technology” – 50 Cent featuring Justin Timberlake and Timbaland
  • “A Bay Bay” – Hurricane Chris
  • “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” – Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em
  • “This Is Why I’m Hot” – Mims

Notable films

  • Spider-Man 3
  • Transformers: the very first one!
  • 300
  • Freedom Writers
  • Blades of Glory
  • Knocked Up
  • SuperBad
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Saw 97 Saw IV
  • Juno
  • Charlie Wilson’s War

2007 in television

  • Bob Barker hosted The Price is Right for the final time in June. Drew Carey announced as the new host in July.
  • The Big Ten Network launches, with the first game featuring Appalachian State upsetting Michigan 34-32 at Ann Arbor.
  • The Writers Guild of America commences a strike against production studios.
  • Poker After Dark debuts on NBC.
  • Mad Men debuts on AMC.
  • The Big Bang Theory debuts on CBS. Bazinga is born.

Notable shows and their awesome titles that either ended or were cancelled in 2007

  • Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks
  • Catscratch
  • The (White) Rapper Show

    • Um…
  • Acceptable TV

    • How ironic.
  • Anchorwoman

    • Hey, real original.
  • Slacker Cats

    • How could this not be exciting?

It’s astounding how many shows are cancelled in their first season. They’re like newly hatched turtles trying to make it out to the ocean. Only a few will survive, even fewer will survive predators such as big-ass birds (or in this case, studio execs?), but after that it’s totally tubular and whatever else the turtles on Finding Nemo said.

Myspace

Can you put me in your Top 8?

Put me in your Top 8!

Myspace in 2007 was today’s Twitter and Facebook in terms of popularity. You could customize your profile, take quizzes that show what kind of person you are, choose your own theme music, and a couple other cool things I’ll go into detail. Basically, Myspace was a dream for a high school student, which was perfect since that’s who I was until graduating in 2007.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s profile was always #1 on my Top 8. It was likely one of the reasons why my girlfriends during the Myspace years dumped me. Well, that and “Hypnotize” by Young Jeezy was my profile music through most of 2007. What in the world…

You know how unfriending someone on Facebook can legitimately destroy friendships? The same could’ve been said when ranking someone too low on one’s Myspace Top Friends list, better known as the Top 8. Ranking them too high quite possibly could’ve had a similar effect, like whoever did that would come off as clingy instead of nice.

Along with the Top 8, everyone–yes, everyone–posted self-fulfilling surveys on the bulletin board, and Myspace’s versions of subtweets. (This happened on Facebook too.) I took way too many hours out of each day to read surveys from girls I liked, hoping when they answered a question that involved naming their crush that it would be me. It never happened, at least until I was in a relationship. Then it had the opposite feeling I hoped for when I was single. Typical high school dramas.

Coincidentally, the site declined as soon as I went off to college. Since then, a sense of creepiness became associated with Myspace. I can’t explain this any better way than a brief conversation a year ago with a blonde lady similar to my age at a college bar called The Press. She was tall, sounded intelligent, and best of all I didn’t have to do anything to get her attention. She just walked right up to me. We talked about photography, which was cool since I had to take a photojournalism class in the fall and it gets tiring always talking about the shitty music played at the bar. I kept thinking to myself why she even came up to me until she asked if I had a Myspace, because that’s where her modeling pictures were. It explained everything, I thought. She had nowhere else to go but to me. It happened more often than I’d like.

Nobody I knew went on Myspace past 2009. Since then, all the news I heard associated with the site had to do with sex offenders. (Seriously, check out that link.) The fact that this girl I met at the bar was on Myspace in 2012 gave me the feeling she was bad news. I was probably going to be abducted that night, either by her or some middle-aged creep she probably knew, who knows.

I left and went to Jimmy John’s.

slocum ap

Yeah, I compared Gilbert Arenas’ career to Myspace. I went there and I’m never coming back. (Slocum/AP)

Myspace had an arc similar to the career of Gilbert Arenas. When Arenas was on his game he was one of the most prolific scorers in the mid-2000s, just like how Myspace was one of my favorite websites during the same time frame. Arenas became more of a problem though after 2007, only instead of a Myspace-like creepiness he was involved in a gun-related incident with teammate Javaris Crittenton.

Orlando traded for him later the same year. Why they would want anything to do with him? It was just like when I asked myself why Myspace Girl, as I now call her, ever talked to me.

YouTube

Like Facebook, YouTube was just starting to catch on in 2007. My friends and I spent way too much time in our college dorms talking about all the cool videos we watched. Basically, it was our alternative to talking about the best porn videos. I soon became an aspiring vlogger, only I didn’t have a camera of my own. When I came home on the weekends I took my dad’s video camera and recorded my acne-ridden face over films my dad taped from the 80s. This really happened. I vented about my roommate and the shitty job I worked at over the past summer, but nothing ever happened with those videos. Five years later, I’m very thankful for that.

Instead, I have this: A blog where I try to write about what life was like back when the Spurs last made it to the NBA Finals. The core of their team back then is the same as it is now, making their last title feel like it was only yesterday. When they meet LeBron James with the Heat or Paul George and the Pacers, it will feel like forever ago.

Also, I’ve gained like 30 pounds since then.

For a shorter, similar post related to 1997, check this out.

What was the NBA like when Golden State last won in San Antonio?

As a basketball fan in Minnesota, I hear a lot about the Lakers’ 22-game winning streak against the local  Timberwolves. There’s hope next year, but I’ve been saying that since 2006.

It’s been even longer for Golden State and their struggles at San Antonio. Their last win came on Valentine’s Day in 1997.

What were those teams like 16 years ago?

  • Three coaches in 2013 played for the Spurs in ’97: Vinny Del Negro, Monty Williams, and Avery Johnson. Avery Johnson was fired from the Brooklyn Nets this year and replaced by P.J. Carlesimo, who was the head coach of the Golden State Warriors in 1997.
  • Dominique Wilkins was also a Spur.
  • The game was played at the Alamodome.
  • Latrell Sprewell was a member of the Warriors. We were still nine months away from his choking incident with Carlesimo.
  • Other notable Warriors: Chris Mullin, Mark Price, and Felton Spencer.
  • San Antonio was in the tank for some dude named Tim Duncan. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves were about to make their first playoff appearance in franchise history. Hmm.

Here were the logos of each team back then:

Golden State's logo back in 1997. It would change a year later.

Golden State’s logo back in 1997. It would change a year later. They still sucked.

The Spurs' logo from 1989 to 2002.

San Antonio Spurs’ logo from 1989 to 2002. Green, pink and orange. Let that sink in.

Since the last Warriors victory in San Antonio, four teams have relocated (Vancouver, Charlotte, Seattle, and New Jersey). One team has been added (Charlotte Bobcats), and there’s been about a kagillion uniform changes.

Here were some notable jerseys that made their debut during the ’97 season:

real97    jazz98         97

What else was the NBA like back in 1997?

  • Tom Gugliotta and Stephon Marbury were Minnesota Timberwolves, Chris Webber was a Washington Bullet, Damon Stoudemire was a Toronto Raptor, and Jalen Rose was playing his first season as an Indiana Pacer.
  • The rookie class consisted of Allen Iverson, Jermaine O’Neal, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, and Kobe Bryant.
  • Kevin Garnett wasn’t even old enough to drink yet, but made his first All-Star Game. Anthony Davis was only three years old and Dikembe Mutombo was only 56.
  • The awesomeness of NBA Live 97 was born.
  • The Clippers (36-46) won more games in 1997 than the Celtics and the Spurs combined.

Other notables in late ’96, early ’97:

  • Bill Clinton was inaugurated for his second term on January 20.
  • Filling up gas didn’t feel like as much of a chore.
  • The Green Bay Packers beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. I was rooting for the Packers.
  • The Yankees won the ’96 World Series with youngsters Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte.
  • Roger Clemens was a Red Sock, Curt Schilling was a Philly, and Alex Rodriguez enjoyed his first full season as a Seattle Mariner. It’s also worth noting that A-Rod wasn’t really that hated back then.

I would go into a novel about how awesome life was back in the ’90s, but there’s some basketball to watch. Speaking of television, here are some quick hits on some TV shows back in ’97:

  • King of the Hill premiered on January 12. Recess premiered on ABC nearly eight months later.
  • Fox’s first Super Bowl telecast. Still five years from dealing with Joe Buck.
  • We were still six months from South Park airing on Comedy Central.

Notable films in ’97:

  • Titanic
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  • Men in Black
  • Tomorrow Never Dies
  • Liar Liar

Unfortunately, all of them debuted after the Warriors’ last victory in San Antonio.

And now, a potential 30 for 30 about the Warriors’ 16-year drought at San Antonio. Will it continue to 17?

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