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Friday, December 18th, 2009 at 3:07 pm  |  46 responses

Links: My Decade

Plus, Horry, GIFs and the Hawks winning a title?!?!?!

by Lang Whitaker

First, an apology for not writing anything here since last week. The reason I haven’t written is because we’ve been finishing the latest issue of SLAM, which we got out the door yesterday. And we got our next cover shoot done yesterday, too. Which means now I can go Christmas shopping. Great.

At the same time, this has been one of the most predictable NBA seasons that I can remember: Oden’s injured and Steve Blake dribbles too much, the Suns can’t defend anyone, the Celtics and Lakers are killing everyone, Stan Van Gundy is about to have to bench Anthony Johnson again, the Spurs are the Spurs, the Heat are once again completely and totally dependent on Dwyane Wade, Dallas is pretty good but not quite dominant, the Wizards are a mess yet they still believe they’re a good team, Ron Artest is saying wacky things…and on and on.

The NBA’s biggest surprise — and I’m as shocked as anyone else about this — has to be my Atlanta Hawks, who are on pace to win a franchise record 61 games. 61 GAMES! Hollinger even has the Hawks pegged at 5-1 odds for winning a title, an NBA title, which obviously means Hollinger’s computer has a horrible virus. Holler at the Geek Squad, John! Quick!

I am thoroughly unconvinced that if this season was played five times, these Hawks would win a title one of those times. They have been playing great all year, and they obviously know how to win and how to get ahead and stay ahead of lesser teams, but I’m not sure that’s going to matter in the postseason against teams like Boston and Cleveland, and definitely not against L.A. The Hawks are still such a young team (Josh Smith just turned 24, and Al Horford and Marvin Williams are both 23), and having watched every game in this painstaking rebuilding process, I’ve learned that getting better does not happen overnight.

For instance, it’s taken Josh Smith five seasons to figure out that he’s an exponentially better player if he doesn’t take 19-foot jumpers from the wings. Yes, he hoisted many of these shots the last few years, but the key thing is that he doesn’t any more. In fact, he’s attempted three 3-pointers all season, and two of those were full-court shots as the end of quarters. Consider three seasons ago Josh attempted 152 threes, and it’s a jarring difference. Now he’s shooting over 50 percent from the floor for the first time in his life, and it’s made the Hawks a better team and it’s going to make Josh an All-Star in a month or so.

(BTW, the Hawks bench is now officially called The Wingmen. Make a note of it and use it as much as possible.)

Anyway, I wanted to write something here as we approach the end of the decade, because I’ve been here at SLAM going on nine years now, so I’ve been here for the entire decade and have seen many things. I know Ryne’s organized another of his themed extravaganzas on the home page with contributions from all of our contributors, and I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.

HOWEVA! I was thinking this week about my favorite stuff of the decade — biggest shots, funniest players, best dunks, coolest moments — and I was at the same time going through stuff on my computer, and I realized I have tons of animated gif files on here.

Oh, wait. One story I want to share about my decade is the best game I saw in person, and I’m sorry Pistons fans, but it was Game 5 between the Spurs and Pistons during the 2005 NBA Finals in Detroit. Khalid and I were in Detroit covering the Finals for SLAM, and we’d been there for about a week, sharing one hotel room that seemed to be getting smaller and smaller each day. I think I wrote at the time that it was almost like a Fox sitcom: white guy and a black guy forced to be roommates in a hotel. Although if it was a Fox show, our maid would have been a million times hotter.

The Spurs had won the first two games of the series in San Antonio, and Game Three and Game Four of the Finals were terrible, both huge Pistons blowouts. And then we had to wait three days until Game Five. The hotel the NBA made all the media stay in was out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do anywhere nearby. On the Saturday night before the game, I couldn’t take it any more and decided to leave and go see “Batman Begins,” which had just come out and Khalid and I really knew nothing about it. Khalid decided to stay in the hotel because he wanted to watch TNT’s “Into The West” miniseries. So I went alone and saw “Batman Begins,” and it was so entertaining, particularly considering how I was about to go stir crazy like Ra’s al Ghul, that it was like the greatest movie I’d ever seen. I actually almost stayed at the theater and watched a later showing of it.

Anyway, we’d been in Detroit for a week and were assuming that game 5 was going to be another blowout Pistons win. It was a close game through three quarters, and then Robert Horry became otherworldly:

Watching it on video now it’s still pretty incredible. I love how Al Michaels and the usually unflappable Hubie Brown are howling in disbelief, because that’s exactly how we were reacting at the press table just behind the Spurs basket. Each of those three-pointers went in just in front of us, each with an increasing degree of difficulty. You know that with each make, there’s a diminishing chance the next one will go in, but Horry just kept banging them home, eventually sending the game into overtime. And then in OT, when Horry pump-faked Prince, drove into the lane and tomahawked the ball in, Khalid and I nearly fell over. Who expects that to happen? Anyone?

Lost in all of this is that Detroit kept scoring and taking the lead. And the Detroit crowd was really unbelievable, screaming and chanting, with Mason egging them on over the PA system. Each one of Horry’s shots broke the hearts of the Pistons fans, little by little, which only added to the drama.

Current Hawks coach Mike Woodson had been an assistant with Detroit the season before, and he brought Detroit’s defensive principles with him to Atlanta. I got to sit in some team meetings with the Hawks a few weeks ago in Dallas, and one of the things Woody stressed was double-teaming a guy when you had the opportunity. With 8 seconds left in OT and Detroit sitting on a 2 point lead, the Spurs inbounded the ball on the wing. Horry threw it to Ginobili, and Rasheed ran over and double-teamed him in the corner. It was a pretty good trap, but it wasn’t good enough (Sheed didn’t really seal him off). Horry was open enough, and with 8 seconds left in OT, it was finally over. The Spurs won the game 96-95, and then won the series back in San Antonio.

I’ve seen a lot of amazing basketball players over the last decade, from MJ to Kobe to LeBron, but that was probably the single greatest performance I’ve ever seen in person. It was such an emotional roller coaster — even for Khalid and I, who weren’t even rooting for either team — that after we left the arena, we just sat in our rental car for about 10 minutes and listened to Lenny Williams and tried to calm down.

OK, anyway, back to the animated gifs. Some of you guys out there might be too young to remember this, but way, way, way back in the day — you know, like five years ago — before it was simple to embed video like I did above, animated gifs were the ish. Web sites were all static text and images, so if you had anything with any movement, it was like you were looking at a time machine. When I moderated that panel at Blogs With Balls out in Vegas, current ESPN.com E-I-C Rob King told a story about how he had a personal website many years ago, and when he figured out how to put an animated gif of a barber pole on there it was the coolest thing ever.

Many years ago, when I began regularly spilling words across SLAMonline, I discovered animated gifs. I couldn’t embed video of stuff, but occasionally someone would send me animated gifs, and I’d run them on here. So, in honor of the end of the ‘00s, here are some of my favorite animated gifs, basketball and non-basketball, from the last decade. Consider these my holiday GIFs to you…

kobe

Kobe went on to bigger and better things. This is mostly what Chris Childs is remembered for.

jopunch

There are many images from the brawl in Detroit that are seared into my brain, but Jermaine O’Neal’s sliding roundhouse to that poor kid along the sideline was almost as brutal as Snooki from Jersey Shore getting popped.

shaq

Shaq dunks in Jersey, brings the basket with him.

 

szczberiak

Hey, anyone remember Wally Sexyback? Bruce Bowen definitely knew how to stop him — kick him in the face!

chuck

During Yao Ming’s rookie season, Charles Barkley bet Kenny Smith that Yao wouldn’t score more than 19 points in a game, and if he did, Charles said he would kiss Kenny’s ass. Of course, Yao immediately scored 20 in a game. To make Chuck make good, the TNT crew brought in an ass — a donkey, hilariously named Shorty — and Chuck puckered up. (Kenny always says the best part was that Chuck kissed it on the ass, even though he didn’t have to. I like that the donkey was named Shorty. Also, that Jesse Ventura was there.)

kidmissespoolanim

Kid tries to jump into a pool and misses. Nothing to do with basketball, but the non-hoops ones are some of my favorite gifs.

christie

Doug Christie hits Rick Fox with the uppercut. Hello!

foxshaq

Later, Shaq showed Fox his love during the postgame interview.

kgpeeler

You know how people say nobody ever responds when KG talks trash? Anthony Peeler did. Gotta love the multiple angles in the gif.

vick

This was supposed to be the start of something special, instead of the end of something special.

asg06-intros

All-Star Weekend. Vegas. This is about all I remember from that weekend.

Anyway, I could go all night, but let’s end with a few funny ones to give you a laugh. Besides, it’s FRI-DAY! YES!

Catch you guys next week…

585catattack

gangsta

pedro

penguins


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  • Ken

    Loved the Chris Childs punch. Lots of fun memories here.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Classic material. We should figure out a way to run this column on the old site layout. Black and gray all day!

  • KHALID SALAAM

    classic material. yes langs right that game was epic. the best game i witnessed during the last decade as well. into the west was awesome btw though they didnt go into depth imo. plus i knew i was gonna see batman begina when i got home and i could not spend anymore time with lang! lol. i needed a break….regarding the pics where s mr.ping?. and that penquin almost made me spit up juice. why does he just fall into the water like that??

  • underdog

    “the Spurs are the Spurs” – well, I think they just want to be…

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Ah, the Chris Child’s two piece. One the NBA’s most enduring moments. I remember that game like yesterday. Pretty much solidified what I’d already thought about Kobe.

  • TONEY BLARE

    i remember the first time i met you and khalid, y’all were like, do you have any lenny williams? it really confused the hell out of me.

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    T.GIF!!! (lame but still.) THANKS LANG. this was so fitting for Friday! The Bruce Bowen kick is all that I think about when people say he doesn’t play dirty. TGIF! Man I love Fridays.

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    Man, I’m still laughing at the penguin one.

  • http://myspace.com/brandnew Bryan

    Chris Childs was so angry that JVG was forcing him to walk the ball up and dump it into a washed up Ewing instead of pushing it with Allan Houston and a not quite dead yet Larry Johnson that he snapped and beat up Kobe. Oh and being benched in favor of Charlie Ward was also a contributing factor. Someone make Charlie’s name red for old times sake.

  • t-rocc

    hahaha i actually still have a bunch of these myself from when you posted them, Lang. big fan of the Doug Christie uppercut!

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    God, I’m crying at my desk. All is forgiven from your Heat insult with the Chris Childs “Beaning”, the Christie punch, the Peeler forearm, the cat jumping on the kid, the ball bouncing off the little girls dome and the penguin slap!!!!!!!!! Proud to say I’ve been with the site since the beginning and hope to get another decade of fantastic reporting from you guys. Still my favorite moment in SLAMOnline history is Lang’s 9/11 coverage. Poignant and real, I felt it through Lang’s words more than any network tv coverage.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Oh yeah…..love the Jersey Shore reference too.

  • http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3445/3357407353_c868c2d95c.jpg larrylegend

    thanks for the horry link…after i mentioned it a hundred times. and the peeler punch, well, weren’t kg and PEEler teammates!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    I also had a gif of one of the girls from Destiny’s Child falling down as they walked on stage, but the file size was too large and our server wouldn’t let me upload it.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    anthony peeler, i remember that! him and zaza, sorry zpac should start a club, we aint fraid of ol g@y kg. francisco elson could also join.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    that game 5 performance by horry is very special to me. earlier in the day i found out one of my best friends lost their 3 year old daughter via some truly horrifying $hit. i was just in a daze for a very long time. i really wanted the spurs to win the game, and title. and it just gave me something to take my mind off what happened. horry is simply amazing

  • Bruno

    vikings are my team in the nfl but that Vick play damn … Vick was fast

  • http://fashionsensei.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/jackie-moon.jpg Jackie Moon

    “You know that with each make, there’s a diminishing chance the next one will go in” … sorry to bust out the math, but if you assume each shot is independent, then the probability is the same … but if the defense tightens up after each make, then the shots aren’t independent, then it would get tougher to make the next one … The non-basketball gifs made me smile the most … love how Vick got two guys on the same team to crash into each other, that’s almost cartoonish

  • http://slamonline.com Adam Fleischer

    Wow this was awesome.

  • http://www.twitter.com/PDXGayBball dma

    the soccer ball was hilarious

  • http://images.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://slamonline.com/online/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/kobe_bryant_top_50.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/nba/slamonline-top-50/& James the Balla

    I am only 23 but have been with the mag since LJ, and Kemp. And I have been on the site for a long time. I have commeneted under the following names: james, James, james the baller/balla, re-action, james sceviour, lakers, kobe, kobe bryant … maybe even a few more. I love this d@mn site.
    Thanks lang and thanks SLAM. Everyone have a Merry Christmas!!! Do NOT drink and drive and always wear a condom … unless she is on the pill.

  • http://hoopmixtape.ning.com/ Simon S.Y Lawy

    Gotta love the penguin …

  • http://hoopmixtape.ning.com/ Simon S.Y Lawy

    Peace …

  • http://www.another48minutes.com Gerard Himself

    loved the pieve, the gif’s, and Lang’s dislike for everything that has the word “child” in it. Whether it’s basketball or something else.

  • http://www.nba.com/playerfile/sean_marks/index.html Michael NZ

    ‘Your daily look at everything b-ball related, fresh each afternoon since 2001′. Just change ‘daily’ and ‘afternoon’ with ‘monthly’ and ‘month’ then we’re cool, Lang. Cat attacking kid by far the best gif.

  • k.a.

    I was going to reminisce about how ive been following the links from the start, through times when and1 posted videos and kicksology.nets active tenure, but all I can do now is laugh at the kid getting beamed in the head.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Those GIFs are so classic, especially the Chris Childs one! Good old grey background / black text days… and I think I somehow remember Lang writing every Childs (or Ward?) quote in red font, like Jesus? Haha.

  • http://Www.lacuevacrosscountry.com Slick Nick Da Ruler

    Thank you Lang, it’s been a pleasure to read The Links.

  • nastierthanu

    Yo that penguin is grimy. Its the set up that gets me. He’s chillin on the edge just before its too thin. He or she thought that out. Flat out hystetrical

  • Trout

    My overiding memory of the beginning of the decade is that SLAMonline with one grey page and some dude trawling through the Internet for basketball news and all types of good stuff. It’s been a good old ride here on SLAM thanks to all ya’ll you helped get me through some real bad times, long spells in hospital and rehab from cancer and the after effects etc. A good job well done LONG LVE SLAM!

  • Rachel

    I’ve been reading you since 2003, Lang, but I’ve missed some columns because the funny quotes have disappeared and I don’t know why… you always used to list most ridiculous stuff that had been said around the league. Great gifs today! I remember when many of them were originally posted

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    upon further review, that was a phantom foul call on the penguin, there was no contact on the play. penguin no. 2 began to face plant itself through the ice before the swipe happened. looks funny, but no contact

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    As a Pistons fan, I hate remembering that game 5 and I hate Robert Horry. If it wasn’t for that game I believe that Detroit would have repeated. Other than that, all the Gif’s made me smile and laugh some. I definitely needed that.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    That Bruce Bowen/Bruce Lee jump kick was sensational…so Wally gets called for the travel straight after?…’The Wingmen’ suits and I’ll use it often. Big Shot Rob was straight up beasting and that flush basically capped off an amazing career for him.
    ___
    @TARZAN – I think Joey Crawford would have made the call because penguin 2, sold that flop like it was a boxing day sale.
    ___
    @LANG – Perhaps you should write up a script for that ‘white guy/black guy in a small holiday flat that perpetually gets smaller thus comedy ensues’ pilot – Fox need something for the holidays.
    ___
    GIFs were sensational, does anyone recall the “dancing spiderman” GIF?? Hypnotic.

  • MikeC.

    @TADOne Just think, Houston tried to trade Horry to Detroit for Sean Elliott, but Sean failed the physical and the trade was rescinded. If Sean hadn’t had a bad kidney, Horry might have been drilling those clutch 3s for Detroit. Ponder that, and remember, your team has won titles in your lifetime. I’m a Knicks fan. Things could be much worse for you.

  • Trav

    Kings and Bucks are easily bigger suprises than Atlanta this year.

  • ab_40

    funny how two of the most amazing playoff games happened with the spurs winning. this game and game 1 of the phoenix spurs series in 2008 duncan hitting that three was as crazy a sequence as you’re ever gonna see

  • Chazz Michael Michaels

    Can someone tell me who is all in the all star video? Like that starters that are dancing…

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne
  • Hussman25

    This has been the best so far this year Lang! Great way to end the year off… I am tearing up @ work!!! LMMFAO!

  • paco23

    That Bruce(LeRoy)kick on Wally world crcks me up everytime!

  • paco23

    That Bruce(LeRoy)kick on Wally world cracks me up everytime!

  • dieter

    love the GIFs, still got them on my computer from back in the day. the penguin one is still great!

  • dieter

    the Penguin game was also big on the links, back in the day. lost countless hours swinging at them! and you also tried to get the word ‘penguin’ in the magazine – dont remember if you pulled it off :D
    also, the word ‘gangsta’ popped up a lot more than it does now.
    gangsta post lang, you penguined it!

  • http://detroit4lyfe.com/articles/michigan-wolverines/ toasterhands

    That penguin must have seen the Peeler-Garnett skirmish or something

  • German Reignman

    Ahhh, good times … bring back the gifs !!!!!!!!!

    And bring back: I`m just saying

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