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 5, May 29, 2002 (Manila time)
Game 5 is a memorable one, not just because of the tight game, but because of my experience of watching it.
I can still vividly remember the sequence of events that day. It was a rainy weekday. My mom and my brother were out. I think mom brought my brother to his taekwondo classes. I was alone. The game, as was the previous game, was tightly contested. Sacramento was trailing the Lakers by one point 91-90, with 11.4 seconds left to play. The Kings had possession.
The rain outside was strong and it was dark. Soon, a lightning struck, and the rumble of the thunder followed. As play was about to resume, lightning struck — a figurative one: the electricity went out. Just as the ball was about to be inbounded. The final 11.4 seconds are the ones I would miss.
As if to add insult to injury, the electricity came back on less than 10 minutes later. As soon as I heard the sound of the electric fan, I hurriedly got the remote and turned on the TV. I can’t believe what I saw. It was the banner showing “All rights reserved…”. The game just ended. I had to wait till SportsCenter came on hours later to see the highlights of the game.
It was only those precious 11.4 seconds that I missed, and that is a number which has a significant sentimental meaning to me now. Every time I see or hear 11.4, images of Mike Bibby curling around Chris Webber’s screen on the right wing, escaping Derek Fisher, then rising up for this jumpshot, come to mind.