HaLo’s Hoop History
The Jamla Records rapper breaks down NBA matchups of the past.
by Drey Wingate / @ProStatus85
The release of NBA 2K12 (and SLAM’s NBA BATTLES special issue) sparked a lot of talk about who is really the greatest team of all time. Due to the continuing lockout, gamers are unable to test out the next crop of rookies on the game just yet, but they are able to battle it out with some memorable teams from NBA history. Teams that include the likes of Julius Erving, Earl Monroe and Walt Frazier, Shaq and Penny, Hakeem and Kenny “The Jet” Smith, and last but certainly not least, Jordan and Pippen.
After experiencing the game for myself, I got to thinking how great it would be to see the first three-peat Bulls team matchup against the Houston Rockets that won back to back rings after Jordan retired. Or how high the score would be if Golden State’s ’91 Run TMC squad went head-to-head with the ’01-02 Sacramento Kings team that featured Bibby, Webber, Bobby Jackson and a young Peja. There are plenty of ways to mix and match all of these great teams against one another, so I decided to get the opinion of someone who not only uses a lot of basketball metaphors in his rhymes, but someone who also appreciates history.
Introducing Jamla Records recording artist HaLo, a.k.a Mr. Ben Ready. If you respect intelligent rhyme schemes, then you will absolutely appreciate this guy. Fresh off the release of his latest EP, The Blind Poet, HaLo found time to sit down with SLAMonline to discuss who he believes would pull out the W in the following matchups.
’92-93 Bulls vs ’93-94 Rockets
HaLo: Let it be known that I’m an MJ fan. I used to connect two VCRs together as a kid to edit my own Jordan highlight tapes, but I digress. This was the season that Michael tore the tendon in the arch of his left foot, but worked his way through the injury leading his team to a championship. This was also the year of the infamous “Jordan Shrug,” when it was impossible for him to miss. The Bulls were in a true zone that year. The Rockets had a great squad, with rookie Sam Cassell and leader Hakeem Olajuwon that year, but they would be no match for the Bulls in my opinion.
’07-08 Celtics vs ’01-02 Lakers
HaLo: The Big Three Celtics vs The Shaq & Kobe Lakers, hmm. This is a tough one, because the Celtics found a strong groove amongst each other. The Lakers were a force, but I didn’t sense their team camaraderie on par with the Celtics. This is where a coach like Phil Jackson steps in! Can’t forget the coach baby! I think Phil’s cool head and experience as a player and coach of championship teams would lead the Lakers to victory. Lakers have this one.
’71-72 Knicks vs ’66-67 Sixers
HaLo: Now we’re talking! This was the season when the Knicks’ Walt Frazier was dressed like a flying pimp on the cover of Esquire Magazine (look it up). The Knicks were superbad, but Wilt Chamberlain’s Sixers may possibly be the greatest team of all time. They went against Bill Russell’s Celtics that year for the Championship, which is no easy feat. Russell even walked into the Sixers’ locker room after the series to give the team their props, and that doesn’t happen every day. Sixers for the win, and always remember, “Thieves should be hanged” (Wilt Chamberlain in Conan The Destroyer in 1984).
’10-11 Heat vs ’94-95 Magic
HaLo: This is a battle of the greatest choke artist of all time. The Heat were flashy and exciting to watch, no question. By Rucker Park standards the crowd would rush the court after a spectacular play, hence relieving the Heat of worrying about the final score. Sadly, this is the NBA and fourth quarters do matter. Even though the Magic were “Swiffer Swept” in the finals that season, I always enjoyed the Penny and Shaq pairing way more than the Kobe and Shaq duo found in later years. That year Penny was quoted as saying, “I like getting the ball to my teammates in a comfortable position. Not just giving it to them, but passing to them in a position they can score.” This quote alone sums up why the Magic would win against the Heat.
’95-96 Bulls vs ’71-72 Lakers
HaLo: Salute to Michael Jordan winning a ring on Father’s Day that season. A very emotional win for him and his family. The Bulls were solid that year, with Rodman and Pippen providing priceless support for their team. Emotions also ran high for the Lakers. Elgin Baylor retired a few games into the season due to nagging knee problems, and never received the ring that would have been promised to him. Wilt Chamberlain (from Sixers fame) lead his team to victory, providing Jerry West with his first Championship ring (word to the logo). Even the Bulls/Jordan fan in me believes the Lakers would win in this matchup. Their size, speed, and teamwork that year was unparalleled.
‘91-92 Warriors vs ’01-02 Kings
HaLo: The Warriors had a miniature beast in Tim Hardaway, and Chris Mullin was “The Great White Sniper” from three-point range. You almost would see him turn down an open shot, only to dribble back behind the three-point line and wet it. The Kings consisting of Bibby, Divac, Webber, and Christie that season were a force to be reckoned with. Their combination of strong defense, and fast, efficient offense would put the Warriors to shame.
’77-78 Bullets vs ’94-95 Spurs
HaLo: There is a strong life lesson to be learned from the ’77-78 Bullets. They lost six of their first 10 games, but MVP Wes Unseld picked his team up and carried them to a Championship. This is the definition of a great team! The Spurs had David Robinson and “go getter” Dennis Rodman on their side, but this was around the time that Dennis started to lose a few marbles. His erratic off-court behavior caused some dissension amongst his team, and we must factor this into the fantasy matchup. No matter how good a team is if they don’t work together unconditionally they will never succeed. This is where the Bullets would have the upper hand for a victory.
’99-00 Blazers vs ’02-03 Mavs
HaLo: Pippen with his Championship mind state, along with Rasheed Wallace and Steve Smith made for an amazing squad with the Blazers. The Mavs had sharp shooter and playmaker Steve Nash along with Dirk Nowitzki to slice the court, dismantling the defense during fast breaks. Both teams are strong (as they should be in this conversation), but Pippen’s hand was mighty ringed up at that time. There is nothing like a champion’s mentality, and the Mavs had not tasted the sweet nectar of a ring yet. Blazers for the win!
’02-03 Nets vs ’99-00 Pacers
HaLo: The Nets’ Jason Kidd could read the court like no other, and Kenyon Martin could catch an alley-oop from the nosebleed nacho stand. The Pacers on the other hand had Reggie Miller for a starter and Chris Mullin off the bench, never giving the opponent a break from the three-point line. This, combined with a legendary player-turned-coach in Larry Bird guiding the Pacers, would give them a surefire win against the Nets.
’88-89 Pistons vs ’93-94 Knicks
HaLo: The Pistons that season were unstoppable. Their style was refined streetball with a taste of finesse. Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas on the same team is almost unfair. A young Dennis Rodman coming off the bench only made them more of a threat. The Knicks, consisting of Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley and John Starks, also represented that feeling of “grit” and street toughness in the League. This would be an epic battle of board banging, floor diving basketball. This one is tough…I hate to say it but the Knicks would choke like a hidden fish bone. The Piston’s are just that Ford tough! We must remember these are the same creators of The Jordan Rules, sending Mike to the weight room. Pistons for the win!