Some things leave an indelible impression. For instance, when man first walked on the moon. People remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when it occurred.
Same way with the NBA playoffs. The memories linger for years, even decades.With another Jazz postseason appearance beginning this weekend, there are sure to be mesmerizing moments. Events that will be recalled with either fondness or frustration. Forthwith are 10 great Jazz playoff moments (and a bonus) that will be remembered in the words of the great Buzz Lightyear to infinity and beyond:
HONORABLE MENTION: SOMETHING FISHY. During the 1997 NBA Finals, Chicago swingman Brian Williams, aka Bison Dele, entertained himself by riling up Jazz fans with references to Salt Lake's night life. He went on to say the place smelled like brine shrimp and the only thing he liked in Utah was the alluring waitresses at LaCaille.Or did he say he say the lake was alluring and the waitresses smelled like brine shrimp? With him it could have been either.
10. STOCKTON-TO-MALONE. Late in Game 4 of the '97 finals, with the crowd going rock-concert delirious, John Stockton one-handed a court-length pass to Karl Malone for the clinching layup. In that fleeting moment, with the series tied, destiny seemed on the Jazz's side.Too bad nobody notified Michael Jordan.
9. BENOIT'S BUST. Having previously been to the conference finals twice, and finished with a 60-22 record, the '95 Jazz appeared a serious contender. But they abruptly found themselves in Game 5 of a brutal first-round series with Houston. With time running out, David Benoit missed three consecutive 3-pointers. Houston went on to become NBA champ and Benoit, who was previously referred to as Ben-waaaasome, instead became Ben-waaaawful.
8. DEREK FISHER'S RETURN. The Jazz were locked into a close Game 2 against Golden State, last year, when Fisher, who had been in New York attending to his seriously ill daughter, walked into EnergySolutions Arena. As he made his way to the court, the crowd gave him a standing ovation.Exactly what made Fisher more heroic for showing up, rather than staying with his daughter, is anyone's guess. Still, it was a made-for-TV moment, and the fans ate it up.
7. HEARTFELT. The Jazz were playoff novices in 1984 and so was their audience. Thus, when Denver Post columnist Woody Paige accused the Jazz of having no heart, that's all it took.
Jazz fans showed up with their hearts on their shirtsleeves and heart slogans on their pants, shoes, coats and foreheads.
In short, they took it personally.
The Jazz went from being down 2-1 in the series to winning 3-2.Sure, it was all sort of high-schoolish, but before '84 it was debatable whether the Jazz could have beaten certain high school teams.
6. RODMAN'S RANT. The Chicago Bulls were all the rage in 1997. They had Jordan. They had Pippen. And they had the ultimate Bad Boy, Dennis Rodman. After playing poorly in Game 3 of the Finals, the Worm told reporters, "It's difficult to get in sync with all of the (expletive) Mormons out here."Good call, Worm. It's not like the gambling, boozing and womanizing could have had anything to do with it.
5. FRANKLY IMPOSSIBLE. Back in 1988, when the Jazz were still considered lightweights, they played Magic Johnson and the Lakers in the first round and nearly won. Frank Layden was a fine coach, but he was also a pretty good psychologist.
Hoping to rally his troops after a Game 1 defeat, he told reporters the Jazz had no chance to beat L.A. in the post-season.This admission royally offended Lakers' coach and uber motivator Pat Riley, and he huffed with indignation at Layden's attitude. Turned out the Jazz nearly scored the upset win, but alas, the Magic was too strong. Los Angeles went on to win the series, 4-3.
4. LARRY TURNS HULKSTER. With the Jazz trailing Denver in Game 6 of a 1994 first round series, a scuffle ensued under the basket at halftime. One of the participants was none other than the guy who owned the building Jazz owner Larry H. Miller.
Miller had walked out of the locker room only to be heckled by a couple of Denver fans. Miller asked them to leave, which wasn't unreasonable considering they were in his private seats. When they refused, Miller tried to throttle one of them. The ensuing photo ended up in every newspaper in the country and Miller was labeled a hothead and a yahoo.
Truth is, considering what the Denver fan was yelling, Miller shouldn't have done what he did.He should have drowned the guy first.
3. THE B-RUSS BUMP. Bryon Russell's most famous moment was actually just part of a sequence of events that deprived the Jazz of a title in 1998. First, Jordan stole the ball from Karl Malone, sneaking in from the backside. Twenty thousand Jazz fans saw it coming and were screaming "Behind you! Behind you!" but Malone never got the memo. Then MJ bumped Russell some say it was routine NBA contact before landing the game-winner. Not nearly as many people remember Stockton missed a makable 3-pointer at the buzzer. So actually, Jordan's shot was only one of three things that doomed the Jazz that day.
2. THE WHOPPER. No Jazz story endures better than the night the Whopper goaded the Dream into sucker-punching him. Billy Paultz, a lovable lunk of a journeyman, had pawed and leaned on Rocket center Hakeem Olajuwon for most of that 1985 first-round playoff game against Houston. Finally, Olajuwon did what any self-respecting star would do: He took a swipe at the big, slow, stiff of a guy.Who says basketball strategy is hard? The Dream lost his concentration, drew a technical, and the Jazz went on to the upset victory. The unsuspecting hero was a guy named after a burger. And Jazz fans began to realize they could have it their way, after all.
1. THE SHOT HEARD 'ROUND THE WORLD. The 1997 buzzer-basket by Stockton that sent Utah to the NBA Finals wasn't especially flashy. Just a straight-up jumper from 23 feet. Still, it took the Jazz where they had never gone. The shot, yeah, it was OK. But seeing Stockton and Jerry Sloan leaping around like kids? Priceless.
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