Ten years. I am now a college student, my brother’s soon to take college entrance tests. I just left my teenage years behind.
Yet images from the legendary seven-game Sacramento Kings-Los Angeles Lakers Western Conference Finals in 2002 still remain fresh in my mind, as fresh as the wounds which were reopened by watching part 6 of “The Greatest Tragedy In Sports” series on YouTube.
The next week or so will mark the 10-year anniversary of perhaps the greatest playoff series of the new millennium.
It was the series which I really tuned in to from wire to wire of every game, from the opening tip to the final buzzer; from the broadcasts opening billboard to the network’s “All rights reserved…” display on the TV. I fondly remember one game in the series which was scheduled to air on ESPN Asia at 8 am Manila time. I had a dream, and in that dream, the clock showed 8:00 am and I was still in bed. When it ticked one more minute, it was already 8:01 and I was still in bed. I panicked that I might miss the game. “Oh no!” I thought. I bolted up from my bed and checked the time. It was not even 7 am yet.
I was that engrossed with that playoff series it permeated my dreams.
So here’s a series of entries to commemorate each game from Game 4 to Game 7, the most dramatic games of the series.
Game 4, May 27, 2002 (Manila time)
I don’t remember much from the first three games of the series. All I know is the Kings won 2 of those games to take a 2-1 lead heading into Game 4. Heck, I don’t remember much from that fourth game. The only image that mattered to me was this:
Kobe Bryant, with the Lakers trailing the Kings 99-97, drove to the basket trying to draw the foul. No whistle, layup missed. About five seconds remained in the game. The logical thing to do for the Kings, if they can’t grab the rebound, is to tap the ball out as far from the basket as possible. Sadly, it went to the hands of Big Shot Rob, Robert Horry. Three-pointer from the top of the key, bullseye! Buzzer sounds. The red light goes on. Lakers win 100-99 with a shot that lives on as one of the greatest in NBA playoff history.
Horry’s celebration was simple: hands down, bouncing up and down while his teammates parade themselves around him, hugging him, thanking him for sending the series to a pivotal Game 5 with the series tied at 2 instead of being down 3-1.