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Bulls vs. Knicks

Bulls vs. Knicks

Stir the Echoes
Man the 90’s, right you guys: sky pagers, Girbaud jeans, Sam Elliott as a sex symbol; and Bulls v. Knicks. For anyone who followed basketball in the early 90’s, Bulls vs. Knicks was the defining rivalry in basketball and possibly the second most important one in NBA history. The best team and player in all of sports playing for the “Second City” against their bitter rivals in New York, a consummate team with a mean attitude that matched the pride of the city.
But rivalry only matters when the teams matter which is what made Easter Sunday at the Garden such a nostalgic aberration.

We know the Bulls matter. Best record in the NBA, an MVP, a coach of the year, and enough recent success to make long standing Bulls fans like me forget about the dismal eight years pre-Rose, post-Jordan (I go way back like Granville Waiters bald spot).
Of course a rough patch is not unexpected once a franchise loses the greatest player in league history and its most successful coach.

Then there are the Knicks, a franchise that has been clawing its way back to respectability these last two seasons, using every resource imaginable – house renovations, celebrity recruitment, and quite a lot of coin – anything to erase what came before, a decade of constant losing preceded by a decade of constant almost winning.
Now, despite their tumultuous season, the Knicks are within reach of a #7 or #8 seed, and might be the third or fourth best team in the conference.
Full disclosure, I love Knicks fans. Because they love basketball. It’s one of the most dedicated yet tortured fan bases in sports. And New York was always on the wrong end of razor thin margins against Chicago. Yes, they beat the Bulls, once. But they never beat THE Bulls, not even once.
By contrast, loyal Bulls fans went from ashy to classy so fast it’s like Brad Sellers got mind wiped out of existence. “Weren’t we just an #8 seed? And who is this Scottie Pippen fellow selling me subs?”

Great games, great moments, and great teams now forever encased in amber (YouTube). And be it a Knicks fan or Bulls fans, both sides can simultaneously point to them with either exaltation or regret, but not without a shared respect. I live in New York now. Went to my first Knicks game last month against Orlando where I gave Patrick Ewing a standing ovation (willingly); Carmelo Anthony yesterday afternoon, not so much.
BTW, New York at Chicago tomorrow night at 9:30pm. ESPN. See you there.
@SlapClap

Stir the Echoes

Man the 90’s, right you guys: sky pagers, Girbaud jeans, Sam Elliott as a sex symbol; and Bulls v. Knicks. For anyone who followed basketball in the early 90’s, Bulls vs. Knicks was the defining rivalry in basketball and possibly the second most important one in NBA history. The best team and player in all of sports playing for the “Second City” against their bitter rivals in New York, a consummate team with a mean attitude that matched the pride of the city.

But rivalry only matters when the teams matter which is what made Easter Sunday at the Garden such a nostalgic aberration.

We know the Bulls matter. Best record in the NBA, an MVP, a coach of the year, and enough recent success to make long standing Bulls fans like me forget about the dismal eight years pre-Rose, post-Jordan (I go way back like Granville Waiters bald spot).

Of course a rough patch is not unexpected once a franchise loses the greatest player in league history and its most successful coach.

Then there are the Knicks, a franchise that has been clawing its way back to respectability these last two seasons, using every resource imaginable – house renovations, celebrity recruitment, and quite a lot of coinanything to erase what came before, a decade of constant losing preceded by a decade of constant almost winning.

Now, despite their tumultuous season, the Knicks are within reach of a #7 or #8 seed, and might be the third or fourth best team in the conference.

Full disclosure, I love Knicks fans. Because they love basketball. It’s one of the most dedicated yet tortured fan bases in sports. And New York was always on the wrong end of razor thin margins against Chicago. Yes, they beat the Bulls, once. But they never beat THE Bulls, not even once.

By contrast, loyal Bulls fans went from ashy to classy so fast it’s like Brad Sellers got mind wiped out of existence. “Weren’t we just an #8 seed? And who is this Scottie Pippen fellow selling me subs?”

Great games, great moments, and great teams now forever encased in amber (YouTube). And be it a Knicks fan or Bulls fans, both sides can simultaneously point to them with either exaltation or regret, but not without a shared respect. I live in New York now. Went to my first Knicks game last month against Orlando where I gave Patrick Ewing a standing ovation (willingly); Carmelo Anthony yesterday afternoon, not so much.

BTW, New York at Chicago tomorrow night at 9:30pm. ESPN. See you there.

@SlapClap

(pic: fuckkyeahchicago)
I’m guessing that the guy in this profane t-shirt is not Dwyane Wade’s dad?

(pic: fuckkyeahchicago)

I’m guessing that the guy in this profane t-shirt is not Dwyane Wade’s dad?

It’s either both, or it’s neither. That has been my all-pervading mythology since the playoffs began. We are either on the verge of two empire ending collapses, or two historic, dynasty-affirming comebacks. Large business, either way; and it should end that completely. By fatigue of body, or of will. Either at the hands of an underestimated foe, or some young, spry enemy come crashing through the gates.


Or order will be restored, and the momentum from having survived an 0-2 deficit will carry both franchises back to the Finals. Cloistered foes. But it’s either both, or it’s neither. Fate.
-SlapClap

It’s either both, or it’s neither. That has been my all-pervading mythology since the playoffs began. We are either on the verge of two empire ending collapses, or two historic, dynasty-affirming comebacks. Large business, either way; and it should end that completely. By fatigue of body, or of will. Either at the hands of an underestimated foe, or some young, spry enemy come crashing through the gates.

Or order will be restored, and the momentum from having survived an 0-2 deficit will carry both franchises back to the Finals. Cloistered foes. But it’s either both, or it’s neither. Fate.

-SlapClap

Heat vs. Knicks (The Rivalry)

(O&A)

In this world, there are a lot of things that matter.  Rarely, if ever, do sports fall too highly on that list.  Even most championships, it could be argued, take place once a year, more or less rendering them insignificant, and certainly not unique.
It is this general lack of true importance that allows some events, certain moments and the occasional player, team or game to transcend. Rivalry is an instance where sports cease to be just sports.  In good rivalries, it’s City v. City.  Team v. Team.  Fans v. Fans.  Even still, with the ever changing landscape in sports today, both professional and collegiate, including free agency or early entrance into league drafts, expansion, skyrocketing player salaries or crooked recruiting, performance-enhancing drugs, etc., it’s tough to keep a rivalry heated. One rivalry that far exceeds the boundaries of sport, reaching much further into society than a lot of people give it credit for, is the greatest rivalry ever – The Lakers vs. The Celtics.When I was a kid, like most, not much mattered.  I loved grilled cheese sandwiches, and playing in the backyard.  But when the Lakers and the Celtics played each other, I remember caring because it seemed like everyone else did.  I stopped whatever I was doing in the backyard, went inside, and turned on CBS.
This will be the 64th Championship in the NBA, and the Lakers and Celtics will have won 33 of them.  The Celtics have made the Finals 21 times, and the Lakers 31.  The 2010 Finals is the 12th time these two franchises are facing each other for the title, a record across all of sports.  Each team has 20+ Hall of Famers, a gang of retired numbers, and enough history to choke and kill a large, strong, virile horse.  There is nothing like this in sport.
The Celtics won 11 championships in 13 seasons. The Lakers are going for their 2nd in a row, 5th in their last 11 seasons, and 10th in the last 30.  Let us examine the ‘80’s, or as I like to call it, “The Greatest Decade of Any Sport.” 
From the ten year stretch of ‘79-‘80 to ‘88-‘89, one of these two teams played in every Finals, and between them, won 8 of the 10 championships of the decade.  Larry Bird and Magic Johnson resurrected the league from near financial failure in the 1970’s, and are widely considered two of the 5 greatest players of the sport, at the very least.  Add to them players the caliber of Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott and you see two of the all-time great dynasties, mirroring each other, built to smash each other. 
Take into account the players and teams they competed against including the Bulls and Michael Jordan, the Pistons and Isiah Thomas, the Sixers and Dr. J, the Rockets of Sampson and Olajuwon, the Malone and Stockton Jazz, etc., etc. and their dominance is even more amazing.
What makes this rivalry unique is not just the incomparable statistics and numbers, players and history.  It’s the fact that Lakers v. Celtics represents so much.  From ‘58-‘59 to ‘68-‘69, the Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals 7 times in a row.  At that time, Lakers v. Celtics was about a wood shed ass-whuppin’.
In the ‘80’s, this battle became about much more. Two styles of basketball: fast break v. half court.  Two schools of thought: progressive v. traditional.  Two major coastal cities separated by an entire country-worth of land: sunny LA and the seemingly always autumnal Boston.  Two lifestyles: Hollywood glamour v. blue collar Boston grit.  Style v. substance.  And lastly, to a good and completely fair extent, blacks v. whites.  This rivalry was an allegory for attitudes, cultures and racial equality.  And if you don’t want to take it from me, ask African-American and Caucasian basketball fans of the appropriate age.
And this Finals is no different.  The Celtics are rough and tumble veterans.  Cagey.  Hard nosed.  Physical.  The Lakers are the pretty boys.  Flashy.  A finesse team.  Soft.  The Celtics are playing to cement their return to dynasty status.  The Lakers are out for ‘08’ revenge. 
Garnett wants to prove he still has plenty of gas in the tank.  Pierce wants to prove he should be in the best player conversation with Kobe and LeBron.  Rondo wants to prove he’s as good as Paul, Williams and Nash.  Pau wants to prove he’s not soft.  Ron wants to prove he’s a champion.  And Kobe needs to prove he can beat the Celtics.
(You can’t be the best player ever if you can’t beat your biggest rival when it matters.)
We will never see two teams play each other and mean more to the people watching them.  It was, and continues to be, remarkable. Representative. So, when they tip at Staples tomorrow, stop what you’re doing in the backyard, grab a grilled cheese, get in front of the television, and remember and revere what it used to be, and will always be to me.
(brainworks / @howmybrainworks)

In this world, there are a lot of things that matter.  Rarely, if ever, do sports fall too highly on that list.  Even most championships, it could be argued, take place once a year, more or less rendering them insignificant, and certainly not unique.

It is this general lack of true importance that allows some events, certain moments and the occasional player, team or game to transcend.

Rivalry is an instance where sports cease to be just sports.  In good rivalries, it’s City v. City.  Team v. Team.  Fans v. Fans.  Even still, with the ever changing landscape in sports today, both professional and collegiate, including free agency or early entrance into league drafts, expansion, skyrocketing player salaries or crooked recruiting, performance-enhancing drugs, etc., it’s tough to keep a rivalry heated.

One rivalry that far exceeds the boundaries of sport, reaching much further into society than a lot of people give it credit for, is the greatest rivalry ever – The Lakers vs. The Celtics.

When I was a kid, like most, not much mattered.  I loved grilled cheese sandwiches, and playing in the backyard.  But when the Lakers and the Celtics played each other, I remember caring because it seemed like everyone else did.  I stopped whatever I was doing in the backyard, went inside, and turned on CBS.

This will be the 64th Championship in the NBA, and the Lakers and Celtics will have won 33 of them.  The Celtics have made the Finals 21 times, and the Lakers 31.  The 2010 Finals is the 12th time these two franchises are facing each other for the title, a record across all of sports.  Each team has 20+ Hall of Famers, a gang of retired numbers, and enough history to choke and kill a large, strong, virile horse.  There is nothing like this in sport.

The Celtics won 11 championships in 13 seasons. The Lakers are going for their 2nd in a row, 5th in their last 11 seasons, and 10th in the last 30.  Let us examine the ‘80’s, or as I like to call it, “The Greatest Decade of Any Sport.” 

From the ten year stretch of ‘79-‘80 to ‘88-‘89, one of these two teams played in every Finals, and between them, won 8 of the 10 championships of the decade.  Larry Bird and Magic Johnson resurrected the league from near financial failure in the 1970’s, and are widely considered two of the 5 greatest players of the sport, at the very least.  Add to them players the caliber of Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott and you see two of the all-time great dynasties, mirroring each other, built to smash each other. 

Take into account the players and teams they competed against including the Bulls and Michael Jordan, the Pistons and Isiah Thomas, the Sixers and Dr. J, the Rockets of Sampson and Olajuwon, the Malone and Stockton Jazz, etc., etc. and their dominance is even more amazing.

What makes this rivalry unique is not just the incomparable statistics and numbers, players and history.  It’s the fact that Lakers v. Celtics represents so much.  From ‘58-‘59 to ‘68-‘69, the Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals 7 times in a row.  At that time, Lakers v. Celtics was about a wood shed ass-whuppin’.

In the ‘80’s, this battle became about much more. Two styles of basketball: fast break v. half court.  Two schools of thought: progressive v. traditional.  Two major coastal cities separated by an entire country-worth of land: sunny LA and the seemingly always autumnal Boston.  Two lifestyles: Hollywood glamour v. blue collar Boston grit.  Style v. substance.  And lastly, to a good and completely fair extent, blacks v. whites.  This rivalry was an allegory for attitudes, cultures and racial equality.  And if you don’t want to take it from me, ask African-American and Caucasian basketball fans of the appropriate age.

And this Finals is no different.  The Celtics are rough and tumble veterans.  Cagey.  Hard nosed.  Physical.  The Lakers are the pretty boys.  Flashy.  A finesse team.  Soft.  The Celtics are playing to cement their return to dynasty status.  The Lakers are out for ‘08’ revenge. 

Garnett wants to prove he still has plenty of gas in the tank.  Pierce wants to prove he should be in the best player conversation with Kobe and LeBron.  Rondo wants to prove he’s as good as Paul, Williams and Nash.  Pau wants to prove he’s not soft.  Ron wants to prove he’s a champion.  And Kobe needs to prove he can beat the Celtics.

(You can’t be the best player ever if you can’t beat your biggest rival when it matters.)


We will never see two teams play each other and mean more to the people watching them.  It was, and continues to be, remarkable. Representative.

So, when they tip at Staples tomorrow, stop what you’re doing in the backyard, grab a grilled cheese, get in front of the television, and remember and revere what it used to be, and will always be to me.

(brainworks / @howmybrainworks)

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