Thursday, April 18, 2013

NBA Finals 1996 Game Three: Bulls at Sonics (Pt. 1)

Well, I was feeling nostalgic and dug through my dusty VHS collection of NBA games. Since the tapes will eventually disintegrate, and there are no plans to convert all of them to DVD or digital... this blog is the next best thing.

The Seattle Sonics (64–18 during the regular season) hosted the Chicago Bulls (72–10) in Game Three of the 1996 Finals. This was one of Chicago's most historic seasons--they broke the regular season mark for wins, and only lost three more games, two of them in this championship series.


In my memory, the title was Michael Jordan's from the moment the playoffs began. Really, most people felt that way from opening night in 1995, but you never know what with injuries and all.

Shawn Kemp admits in the pregame interview with Peter Vescey that the plane trip back from Chicago, down 2-0, was "a little bit quiet." Kemp and a few others on the Sonics squad have let Dennis Rodman, aka the Worm, get into their heads a bit. Plus, the Bulls are just better.

People clowned Greg Oden because he was 18 years old and looked like somebody's grandfather. Kemp was ahead of his time. They just have distinguished, old-school faces. Speaking of older, Vescey complimented Kemp, noting that his early career immaturity seemed to have faded a bit.

Why is it always that people react to the Bulls instead of having them react to their team? Why aren't you the same team that you were against the Rockets, attacking defensively? Vescey asked Kemp. The Sonics swept Houston, last year's champs.

"You have a Michael, you have a Scottie (Pippen), and they're aggressive. They're always attacking, always taking it to the rim... keeping you on your heels... teams have a tendency to lose their confidence."

Just before tipoff, Miller Lite tells us that Life is Good (when you're drinking our beer!) The POV man in the commercial transforms his world by "pounding" a beer bottle on the table.
In reality, 11,873 fatal accidents were recorded the year of 1996 "where at least one driver had a blood-alcohol content of at least 0.08%." But Life is Good... Thirsty yet?

Am laughing at the pregame introductions, because the Bulls are run out onto the court first... then when the Sonics come out, the Key Arena lighting doesn't seem to be quite as good as it was for MJ n' them, the TV production not as crisp and focused.
Luc Longley
Michael Jordan

Gary Payton

Earvin Johnson

George Karl
 It's almost like the NBA admin knows where the bread is buttered.
The Sonics are 44-5 at home going into this game, including playoffs. One of those wins was against the Bulls, early in the season--one of Chicago's ten losses on the season.
Ahmad Rashad, long teased for being one of Jordan's media go-to guys, says that the chance of going up 3-0 in the series is motivation for MJ to have a "statement game"...
Read more about this game here.

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