Twitter: born March 2006.
NBA Finals: born April 1947.
Nowadays, Twitter explodes with NBA Finals coverage: Photos, data, rumors and footage from fans, players, coaches and owners. So one can only imagine the lurid pics, sensational gossip and gripping taunts that would have made the tweeting rounds in NBA days of yore.
One need imagine no longer. Time to anachronize Twitter and impose it into the days of Russell, Bird, Magic, Jordan and Barkley. Or, said differently, for the purposes of this article, the Flu Game really is viral.
The 1970 NBA Finals is best known for Willis Reed limping onto the court with a torn thigh muscle, inspiring his New York Knicks to a Game 7 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers. But Game 3 had a moment that would have slowed wireless routers across the nation.
With three seconds remaining in the game, West launched a 63-foot prayer that hit nothing but nylon, prompting the teammate who threw him the inbounds pass to tweet this:
In the 1975 Finals between the Washington Bullets and the Golden State Warriors, the heavily favored Bullets were down three games to none when Washington's Mike Riordan—desperate to do something to fire up his team—tried to purposely start a fight with Warriors star Rick Barry, who was averaging 35 points a game.
Riordan's crafty plan was to get Barry ejected so the Bullets could get something started.
Barry shoved Riordan, but before the brawl could begin in earnest, Barry's coach Al Attles ran onto the court and started his own fight with Riordan. It got Attles tossed, but it saved his star player from ejection. After the final buzzer, Barry tweeted this beauty:
Game 5 of the 1976 Finals is often considered the greatest NBA game ever played. The first Finals game to go into triple overtime, it would have never made it that far were it not for an incredible shot by the Phoenix Suns' Gar Heard. It led to a collective groan from the Boston Celtics—as well as this groaner of a tweet from the hero himself:
A year later, there was a brawl in the 1977 Finals that made the Malice in the Palace years later look like the "Small World" ride at Disneyland. The Philadelphia 76ers' Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins started a fight by throwing a punch at little Bob Gross of the Portland Trail Blazers (he missed and hit his own teammate, Doug Collins), then backing away quickly.
Maurice Lucas ran up to Dawkins and shoved him from behind, and the two put up their dukes Muhammad Ali-style. But again, Dawkins, known as one of the physically toughest guys in the league, backpedaled after he threw his only punch at Lucas.
Dawkins' reticence to stay in there and mix it up prompted this tweet from Lucas:
Amazingly, Dawkins drew a mere $2,500 fine and there were no suspensions. Guess the game was more physical back then.
In Game 2 of the 1984 NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers had a two-point lead with 18 seconds remaining, and simply had to dribble out the clock for the win. But the Lakers' James Worthy made an ill-conceived pass to Byron Scott, and little-known Gerald Henderson of the Boston Celtics picked it off and laid it in to force overtime.
It was a moment as sweet as this tweet:
Everybody knows Michael Jordan's famous Flu Game, in which Jordan overcame a 103-degree temperature to score 38 points. The unforgettable contest ended with Jordan collapsing into teammate Scottie Pippen's apparently supportive arms in this iconic image.
It sure seemed touching. But not if you read Pippen's postgame tweet. Scottie earned the nickname "No Tippin' Pippen" for his lack of generosity, and this tweet is in keeping with that moniker:
In Game 5 of the 2005 NBA Finals, Robert Horry singlehandedly kept his San Antonio Spurs in it with 21 points after halftime—including, with six seconds left in overtime, draining this trey that drained the color from the faces of the Detroit Pistons.
Afterwards, Horry—known as "Big Shot Bob" for his ability to hit in the clutch—got no disagreement when he tweeted this:
What's your favorite pre-Twitter NBA Finals moment? And what would the tweet have said?