As we honor our fallen heroes on this Memorial Day, we can take a moment and remember the best of the NBA on this holiday. Remembering also brings hope that the 2019-20 season will continue sometime soon.
The Memorial Day Massacre
In 1985, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers embarked on another epic NBA Finals. In Game 1, Boston exploded for 79 points – an NBA record – in the first half on its way to a 148-114 Memorial Day victory.
The Lakers didn’t care much for the 34-point defeat. They went on to win the series 4-2.
Jordan Celebrates Memorial Day
The Chicago Bulls won a then-NBA record 72 games in 1996 led by Michael Jordan. Having lost to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference semifinals the year before, Jordan made sure that wouldn’t happen again in ’96.
In the ’95 Eastern Conference Finals, Jordan scored 45 points in Game 4 on Memorial Day to lead Chicago to a 106-101 victory … and a four-game sweep of the Magic.
Bulls Sweep Pistons
The Bulls learned the Memorial Day sweep five years earlier when they faced the “Bad Boys,” the Detroit Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. Games 2 and 3 of the series had been closer contests, but Jordan and teammate Scottie Pippen left no doubt who the best team in the NBA was.
On Memorial Day of ’91, Jordan scored 29 points to lead Chicago to a 115-94 win over Detroit. The Bulls would go on to defeat the Lakers in five games in the NBA Finals.
One More Jordan
When you’re good in the NBA, it means you end up playing on Memorial Day quite often. Jordan and his Bulls were down 2-0 in their Eastern Conference Finals series with the New York Knicks in 1993. So, on Memorial Day that year, Jordan simply took over.
His 54 points that day would give Chicago a 105-95 win over the Knicks and even the series up at 2-2. Chicago, of course, would win that series 4-2 and go on to win a third straight NBA title.
The Memorial Day Miracle
In Game 2 of the 1999 NBA Finals Portland appeared to be headed to evening up the series at 1-1. The Trail Blazers led by as many as 18 points over San Antonio in the third quarter. The Spurs never held a lead in the game until late in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 85-83, San Antonio inbounded the ball with just 12 seconds remaining in the game. Sean Elliott caught the inbounds pass and launched a 3-pointer over the outstretched arm of Rasheed Wallace. Elliott’s make gave the Spurs an 86-85 win. They would go on to sweep Portland and win the NBA title.