Things Every Sports Fan in Their 20s Remembers
Have you ever yelled "Click-clack!" after tackling someone?
Do you consider Space Jam a cinematic masterstroke? Is there a pair of PF Flyers sitting in your attic?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you've come to the right place.
Today is about us—the 20-something-year-old sports fans going through a weird, transitionary part of life where the world says we're people, but we're still not entirely comfortable with that idea.
We're a generation in flux, and while they can stuff us in offices, bury us in debt and tell us to be grateful—they can't take our memories.
With that said, these are the sports memories of a 25-year-old fan who still believes the apex of life involves a pair of Reebok Pumps and high-fiving Muggsy Bogues. Maybe some of them will be your memories, too.
Fleer Metal Cards
Shiny plus sports plus collectible equaled "Take my parents' money. All of it."
Fleer Metal cards were worth their weight in myrrh, and they were by far the most entrancing sports card a kid could own in the '90s. I remember having a Jerry Stackhouse Fleer Metal rookie card that I wouldn't have traded for a hoverboard that also made pizza.
I was sure he was going to be the next Michael Jordan, and that one day I would retire to an island to spend all my Fleer Metal/Stackhouse money. That venture has since fallen through, but then again, no one said trading in Fleer Metal futures would be easy.
Burning Warm-Up CDs for Games
Kids these days...they'll never understand the painstaking joy of crafting a warm-up CD featuring "Bring 'Em Out" by T.I..
CD's labeled "Boys B-Ball Mix 1" now sit behind desks and speakers at high school auditoriums and announcers' booths across the nation, collecting dust. Eventually they will fossilize, and millions of years from now when man is long gone, aliens will find these discs and try to decipher their function.
Eventually one of them will figure it out, and our first true communication with other intelligent forms of life will be "SWIZZY!"
The Introduction of Under Armour
As some of you will remember, we didn't always have Under Armour clothes—much less Under Armour shoes.
Synthetic fabric workout clothes weren't popular or in vogue for most of the '90s, until Kevin Plank invented Under Armour and sparked a fashion revolution in athletics in the early 2000s.
We all reaped the benefits from his discovery, and by the time we were hitting high school, this stuff was all the rage. Remember trying to explain to your parents that the "cold" gear kept you warm, and the "warm" gear kept you cool? It was like explaining Pogs to a giraffe.
John Stockton and Karl Malone Were Unstoppable in NBA Jam
Chuck up the three and let the big man get the rebound.
Playing against John Stockton and Karl Malone in NBA Jam was like playing against a loaded deck—the cards were already stacked against you going into the game.
If the gamers playing NBA Jam were anywhere near equal in skill, chances were whoever played with the Utah Jazz would win. Stockton was near-automatic from three, and anything he failed to sink was automatically rebounded by Malone, who could dunk it or pass it back out for another trey.
While we're here, I have an issue to address: Why was John Stockton not allowed to dunk in Jam, Midway Games? The ball could catch on fire and other players could fly out of the screen, but John wasn't even allowed a simple tomahawk. Sigh.
Marshall Faulk and Eddie George Were Monsters in 'Madden'
Marshall Faulk made the the circle button sing, and Eddie George was a wrecking ball with the truck stick.
Both running backs were extremely highly-rated in Madden during the early 2000s, and when used properly, could average over five yards a carry—something Faulk did in real life during his best seasons.
They also pioneered a path in football accessories, considering both men wore GIGANTIC mouthpieces. Also, Faulk became one of the first guys to ever make a Breathe Right strip look cool.
Subterfuge. Romance. Desperation.
Sandlot was our generation's Casablanca—you know, besides the vacuum explosions, toe jam references and extended dog chase scenes.
Vince Carter's Dunk over 7'2" Frederic Weis
On Sept. 25, 2000, the world stood witness as Vince Carter consumed a man's soul.
The involuntary foot kick: Never. Forget.
GIF via B/R
You could pump them twice to fly, or you could pump all day long because it was a compulsion nothing short of a wildfire could stop.
Reebok Pumps were all the rage in the early '90s—the days when no one gave a damn about shoe-weights and 90 percent of the sneakers laced up to your mid-shin.
The Culpepper-Moss-Carter Connection Was the Best Combo in Football
It was like watching a Howitzer passing to fighter jets.
Put simply, the Minnesota Vikings offense of the late '90s/early 2000s was a surface-to-air barrage. Daunte Culpepper's arm combined with Moss' speed and Cris Carter's hands was an all but unstoppable combination.
All you could do was drop everyone and hoped Culpepper missed the mark or couldn't find a window.
It wasn't a high probability bet, and even if you covered all receivers, you were still prone to the "Daunte Scramble"—a situation where a very large and athletic quarterback outruns a defensive end and mows down a linebacker for the first down.
If there's one movie out there that's exclusively palatable to people in their 20s, it's Space Jam.
Older people think it's stupid, younger kids can't watch 15 minutes without tweeting about it being "totally random and lame." Us 20-somethings, however, we're in the sweet spot.
We appreciate Warner Brothers and its last wild stab at a 2D/3D movie, and love them for putting Michael Jordan—the biggest sports hero of our generation (and maybe anyone's generation)—on the same screen with Bill Murray and our favorite (now-extinct) Looney Tunes characters.
It was the end of an era, but we'll never forget the Jordan arm-stretch. Never.
Reggie Bush USC Highlights Are the Raunchiest of All Football Porn
If you played high school football from 2003-2005, chances are you occasionally locked the door, lit a candle and got wrist-deep into some Reggie Bush highlights.
"Filthy" and "disgusting" don't even begin to capture the moves Bush displayed with the Trojans, and to this day some of the runs still don't seem entirely possible.
Bush was a unicorn among mules in college, and if you're one of the people who called him a bust three years into his NFL career, you can go eat a bowl of macaroni without cheese.
The Advent of Fitted Football Jerseys
Long and loose—that's how jerseys used to be
Much has changed over the past 15 years, however. The poofy, long-sleeved jerseys football and soccer players used to wear have been slimmed down, thanks to new fabrics.
Take a peek at the jersey Jerry Rice wore during his rookie year in '85. It's nothing like the gear he was wearing in 2002.
Of all the jerseys in sports, however, basketball might have changed the most dramatically. More and more teams are switching from the U-necked jerseys of old for the snare-drum tight, V-neck style jersey—and it all happened on our watch.
The '96 Dream Team
Don't get me wrong—the '92 team was the best basketball team of all time, but don't sleep on the '96 team.
You had Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon, Grant Hill, John Stockton, Mitch Richmond, Reggie Miller, Scottie Pippen, Anfernee Hardaway, Gary Payton, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and David Robinson on one team. They're often overlooked, but they are probably the second best accumulation of basketball talent to ever play a game.
I was fortunate enough to watch them play against China in Atlanta, and as you can see, it was rout that even an eight-year-old mind could never forget.
The Vortex Nerf Ball
I've said it before and I'll say it again—the Vortex Nerf ball is the most beautiful football ever made.
It has a crossbow bolt in one end and whistler tips cut in the sides. No matter how terrible a quarterback you were, this thing made you look like John Elway.
The Original NFL Blitz
No rules, just rib-breaking and butt-pounding with Shannon Sharpe.
NFL Blitz was a violent game that taught you nothing about football or sportsmanship, and reveled in unnecessary human aggression. One play was actually called "Da Bomb."
And it was great.
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