Basketball is a unique game. Every sport has its features that make it a beautiful entity and source of fun, but there is nothing like basketball. First, all 5 starters on the floor for each respective team play offense and defense at the same time. There is no “Offensive unit,” or “Defensive Side of the ball” such as in football. Additionally, there the game moves at break neck pace most of the time, as opposed to a sport such as golf.
Basketball has provided me with many moments of intensity- both playing and also watching the sport. In 1994, during the NBA Finals, the Houston Rockets were playing the NY Knicks in Game 7 of the series. I particularly remember this game (Aside from the obvious win or go home nature of the game) for the fact that my neighbor Kim Kun Yang came over to watch the game with me. He specialized in the business of carpet cleaning and tree care, and had come over straight from work. He also brought a bottle of Sake. For those who live under a rock, sake is a rice based wine that one generally sips on while ingesting sushi or some other Japanese dish.
This particular NBA Finals had been the epitome of mid 90s playoff basketball. In other words it was a war! The Knicks frontline was comprised of the late Anthony Mason and Charles Oakley at Forwards, and the Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing at Center. The backcourt consisted of Doc Rivers at Point Guard and John Starks at Shooting Guard. The Knicks in those days were a very physically intimidating team- as embodied by their coach, Hall of Famer Pat Riley. Riley had coached the Los Angeles Lakers to the last 4 of their 5 NBA Titles in the 80s in the decade of the 80s.
On the other side of the hardwood, the Houston Rockets lineup consisted of Vernon Maxwell, Kenny Smith, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, Otis Thorpe, and Robert Horry. This team centered upon Olajuwon’s dominance in the middle and the 3-point shooting of the rest of team that was created via the “inside out” game that resulted from teams doubling Hakeem down low to the basket, and him passing out of these double teams to open 3-point shooters on the perimeter.
This particular game was uneventful compared to the last. In Game 6, Houston had staved off elimination, as Olajuwon had blocked John Stark’s potential game winning and championship clinching 3 at the buzzer. This final and deciding game was rather uneventful from the start. The Rockets had been in control from the start and the party had already started in Houston by halftime. My friend Kim Kun Yang, who had defected from the Orient right before the end of the Cold war was lit up like a flaming Dragon for a Chinese Celebration at the Great Wall. By halftime he had already polished off his bottle of Sake. As a Knicks fan, he had brought this bottle anticipating celebration. However, the celebration he had planned proceeded to turn into a session of yelling and screaming in his native tongue at the game on TV. That being said, this did not derail us from the great time we had watching the last game of the 1994 NBA season.