With very rare exceptions (David Zirin, I'm looking your way), an abiding interest in labor strife is not what brought most fans to the NBA. Of course, when necessary, we can verse ourselves in the vagaries of BRI, sort through the various permutations in any band split and brush up on the way that Henry Clay Frick played the steelworkers' union during the 1892 Homestead riots. But, utltimately, it was never collective bargaining that got us to fall in love with the NBA. It was collective gasps, collective joy and collective heartbreak at the inimitable and unbelievable moments that we've watched on the court for decades.
Rather than continue to divine winners and losers in the labor deal that was tentatively agreed to over Thanksgiving weekend and answer the more pressing question of whether this process was ultimately worth it to either side, most NBA fans are just happy to get back to the game they love and happy to be talking about crossovers and dunks instead of system issues and decertification.
One hashtag among many floating around on Twitter at any given time, #FAVORITENBAMOMENTS was embraced by the vibrant community of NBA tweeters, bloggers and fans, who unleashed a torrent of affectionate memories over the past few days. Presumably due to the ages of many of the tweeters wearing out the hashtag, the results certainly skew recent. It's a crowd far likelier to sight Space Jam and Teen Wolf as iconic hoops movies over, say, Hoosiers or even The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.
Needless to say, George Mikan and the Minneapolis Lakers come up slightly less often than Allen Iverson. Likewise, Havlicek stealing the ball and Willis coming out of the tunnel don't get nearly as much love as Shaq finishing that ally-oop from from Kobe against the Blazers. Perhaps, the date range will expand after NBATV begins its NB80's series tonight.
The late 1980s are when I first began cataloguing my own favorite NBA moments. As a suburban kid who grew up in New Jersey looking forward to every-so-often trips to Madison Square Garden with my father, grandfather and uncle to cheer the Knicks, I've got more than a few moments that I recall fondly. Charles Oakley figures in many of them. But, for whatever reason, #MyFavoriteNBAMoment struck me as a list composed of collective experiences via television. Maybe I feel this way because the YouTube clips of many of the highlights feature the announcers and camera angles of the TV broadcast rather than cluttered angle from a seat in the stands and a soundtrack of my grandfather's curse words. Perhaps, it's my abiding passion for the NBA On NBC theme that had me thinking this way. Either way, my first jump-out-of-my-seat NBA thrill probably occurred in Game 5 of a first-round playoff series between the Knicks and the Celtics in 1990.
While lifting the 'Bockers to an upset over Larry Bird and the Celtics, Patrick Ewing nailed a dagger of a corner three as the shot clock expired. Before the shot I was nervously asking myself "Are the Knicks really going to beat the Celtics?" After it dropped, I was telling various family members "THE KNICKS ARE REALLY GOING TO BEAT THE CELTICS!" My most emotional -- well, in a positive sense -- sports moment also involved Ewing. When he raised and extended his arms to embrace the crowd at the Garden following the Knicks clinching the Eastern Conference crown in 1994 it felt to the junior high version of myself that I had also been validated in some way. I was going to the Finals. Of course, John Starks' 2-for-18 performance in Game 7 against the Rockets made certain I wasn't walking around feeling undeservedly worthwhile for too long.
Sadly (for me), the favorite moments of many of the tweeters over the past few days are also some of the most heartrending hoops memories I have. From Reggie's explosions at the Garden, Pippen's emasculating dunk over Ewing or the eternal shame of the Charles Smith lay-up line, there is almost enough painful memories to make me start another hashtag.
Until then, we've compiled video of many of the most frequently tweeted about moments (along with a s/o to the fan who shared it). Scroll through and let us know about your favorite moment.