By Craig Kwasniewski
By now most of you have watched Dan Klores' super fantastic documentary Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks. I watched it, downloaded it and bought the DVD. To say I'm a huge fan of 90's NBA is a major understatement. Jordan in his prime, the Bulls running off six NBA titles, the Knicks revival, Pat Riley vs. Phil Jackson, Pat Riley vs. the Knicks, Miami Heat vs. the Knicks... and in the case of the documentary, the Pacers vs. the Knicks. It's a hell of a show. Well paced, a GREAT use of opera (who knew in a sport that exudes Jazz music in the purest form that opera music would ever fit, but Klores does a great job editing the piece), memorable highlights, cool interviews and the crazy fights. CRAH-AYE-ZEEEE fights! I forgot just how physical the NBA was back then.
Anyway, a few years ago the NBA released a few DVD box sets that include entire games from storied franchises like the Knicks, Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, 76ers and Pacers. (Insert scratching record sound here) Pacers? Huh?
So they're the only team from the group that hasn't won a NBA title... so what! The box set is called Indiana Pacers Greatest Games Collection, Vol. 1 obviously because Volume 2 was sidetracked with a certain brawl and subsequent strip club "incident." And Volume 1 is more a collection of Reggie Miller highlights, but I'm guessing the NBA Entertainment people felt Miller wasn't big enough to carry his own DVD highlights package. Just call it the Pacers Greatest Games and ignore the ABA era or some of the Chuck Person era (come on y'all want at least one game of him doing the "I'm on fire and will bang my head over and over" routine).
Anyway, this DVD contains two of the games that are the main focal point of "Winning Time." Here's a breakdown of all four games on the box set:
Disc One: Pacers @ Knicks, June 1st, 1994 - One of the two games featured prominently and the one that made Reggie Miller, the infamous Spike Lee Game. Reggie drops 25 in the fourth quarter while talking endlessly with Spike Lee leading the Pacers over the Knicks.
Disc Two: Pacers @ Knicks, May 7th, 1995 - The other game covered in the doc. This one propels Miller into a higher level, a legendary Knicks killer. Reggie scores 8 points in the final 16.4 seconds to rally the Pacers from down 6 and steal Game 1 in MSG. The Knicks, the MSG faithful, hell even the Pacers are all shocked in one of the truest, "I have never seen in my life" moments.
Disc Three: Bulls @ Pacers, May 25th, 1998 - Remember the image of Reggie canning a clutch three and doing the "I don't believe I just made this" jump and spin and jump and spin and wave his arms routine? That's this one. The two-time defending champs roll into Market Square Arena for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals hoping to take control of the series and take a commanding 3-1 lead. Except Reggie hits a huge jumper to take the W. Oh and Jordan almost wins it at the buzzer that rims out.
Disc Four: Pacers @ Knicks, June 2nd, 2000 - The is a Pacers greatest hits game because they finally get that elusive monkey off their back and earn a trip to the NBA Finals. Many years of hard work and frustration (four losses in the Eastern Conference Finals in the previous six years) finally pays off. But the MOST interesting part of this game is that it's the last one the Knicks were relevant. They traded Patrick Ewing a few months later and haven't advanced out of the first round since. Even worse, they've only won TWO playoff games since. It marks the end of an era in New York Knicks basketball history. This was the ninth and final year in a row they advanced at least to the second round. Really this game is as much for Pacers fans as Knicks fans. A true memory of what was and may not be for a long time.
You can get this box set at Amazon.com.