With the 1980 playoffs on deck, let’s do a brief double dip lamenting the loss of two great games from the YouTube library.
The first is a double overtime thriller on Super Bowl Sunday between the Celtics and the defending champion Sonics. Larry Bird had an all-around good game with some fantastic passes, and Boston’s Chris Ford hit five three-pointers, an amazing feat for this era. For Seattle, who muscled their way to the win, Gus Williams dropped 29 and Jack Sikma went off in the early stages of the second half, but the defining shot of the game was Dennis Johnson’s fadeaway three off of a crosscourt pass with just one second to go to send it into overtime.
The blog linked here has the text of the great Bob Ryan’s eloquent recap.
Quick Grade: A-, only knocked down for poor shooting by both sides and a longer time commitment due to the overtimes, but overall, a thrill to watch, especially for those of us who still miss the Sonics.
The other game is the 1980 All-Star Game, a game that’s been on YouTube in a couple different iterations only to keep getting pulled from the site by the league. Not sure why the NBA goes out of its way to restrict certain games and not others, but it is what it is. In the midst of his third straight season leading the league in scoring, San Antonio’s George Gervin dominated the first half to push the East -not a typo, the Spurs at that point were in the Eastern Conference- to a commanding lead and what looked to be a rather lackluster game. That is, until Kareem went into God Mode. If this had been a video game, controllers would have been flying as players accuse the game of cheating. Lenny Wilkens went with a Twin Towers look down the stretch -Magic Johnson, Phoenix’s Paul Westphal and Walter Davis, Jack Sikma and Abdul-Jabbar, with help from Dennis Johnson- which the East, led by Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Gervin and Julius Erving, couldn’t match. However, in overtime, Bird redeemed himself after missing a look that would have won the game in regulation, as he hit back-to-back shots from the corner, one a three, the other his foot just on the line, and put an exclamation mark on his performance with an amazing no look, off the rebound tip pass to Moses Malone underneath the basket.
In lieu of the whole game, a top plays countdown will have to suffice. The most notable among them #4, where the East ends up scoring, but it provides a glimpse at Kareem’s dominance on defense, and the #1 play, the aforementioned tip pass by Bird.
Quick Grade: A, the best players in the world, including a handful of the all-time greats, playing up-and-down ball, with the best player on the planet essentially single-handedly bringing his team back and getting into overtime, where another all-time great steals the show despite being only a rookie. What more could you ask for?
These games have popped up on YouTube before, so hopefully they will get re-posted in the future, as they are both classics. Until then, come back next week for the start of the playoffs.