Greatest Pacer Games: You Decide
The Pacers are releasing a DVD set with the greatest games in Pacers NBA history and are letting the fans select which four games should be included in the set. You can go here to look at the options and place your vote. There were a couple of tough omissions, but here are the games I voted for:
- May 7, 1995 vs. Knicks: Reggie scores eight points in the final 8.9 seconds. This is the signature game of the Reggie era Pacers, setting the tone for beating the Knicks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. I've always wondered what would've happened if Spike Lee's exasperated towel wave would've actually hit Reggie as he was lining up that last three.
- May 29, 1995 vs. Magic: "Memorial Day Miracle" game with Rik Smits hitting the game winner. Living out in D.C. at the time, I recall driving home from the Indy 500 and listening to this game on the radio. The lead changes and huge shots by both teams in the final minutes of this game seemed implausible while listening. Usually you can put together a pretty accurate visual from hearing the action on radio, but this finish didn't compute until I actually saw the replays. As expected, Mark Boyle called it perfectly and what seemed impossible to the ear actually did happen.
- May 25, 1998 vs. Bulls: The "chicken fight" with MJ and the Bulls was officially on after a hobbled Reggie pushed MJ to free himself for the game winning 3-ball. This tied the Eastern Conference Finals at 2-2 and made many Pacer fans (and probably a few players) truly believe they could beat the Bulls. MJ pulled out the series late in Game 7 but the intensity of the last three games was incredible. Back to the game at hand, three other memorable images after Reggie's shot fell: 1) Reggie jumping around on one foot as delirium broke out around him, 2) Larry Joe Legend showing absolutely no reaction as the game winner fell and delirium broke out around him, and 3) MJ rimming out a desperation shot from near half court that probably would've set the Pacers franchise back ten years had he made it.
- June 2, 2000 vs. Knicks: As milestones go, this was the biggest for the NBA Pacers. They finally reached the NBA Finals and did it by beating their 90's nemesis, the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden. The game itself wasn't exciting in the sense there were no last second shots, but getting over the hump to actually win the Eastern Conference Finals made it nerve wracking until the final buzzer. The Reggie celebration piggy-back ride is the image that always comes to mind with this game.