"Dream as if you'll live forever, Live as if you'll die today."
- James Dean
What's up with that quote? In basketball, everyone wants one thing, to win. Several young people (myself included) dream about being in the NBA. This quote by James Dean is something that basketball players actually seem to do. They dream of a championship, and on court, the true dreamers push themselves and their teams as if it's their last chance to do so.
However, here's an interesting theory. By those players pursuing their dreams in the NBA, they act like every time on court is their last. Doing so gives inspiration to fans, and especially younger people. These young people pursue their dreams, and those who make it to the NBA follow what the players did and inspire those watching, especially youngsters, and so the process is repeated.
Simply said, inspiration itself inspires.
So, let's get to the action. While watching a few basketball clips, I happen to run into a few that sent chills down my spine. These clips were when the NBA truly lived up to the motto: Where Amazing Happens. They are pure emotion, raw desire and a powerful will to win. I present to you, 10 inspirational player moments.
Just for the record, this is in no particular other. What's inspiring to one, may be more or less so to another.
Kevin Garnett gets the honorary mention here. I originally had Garnett on the list but decided to move him to the honorary spot. I decided that he isn't so much inspirational as he is just downright energetic and passionate.
That being said, I love what Kevin Garnett brings (or used to, considering he didn't look like himself by the end of the season.) to the game of basketball. In 2008, it was his glory year, and he was on top of the world, beating the Lakers in six games, winning a ring he's been trying to get for so long.
Though, his energy and passion can be described as inspirational. They need more players like this guy. Despite this, you won't find him high up in the popularity charts.
Speaking of not well- iked players; Reggie Miller has an amazing performance right here, hitting two clutch back-to-back three-pointers against the Knicks. Scoring eight points in the final 20 seconds to erase an six-point deficit and win the game is simply amazing. It seemed like a sure Knicks win, but once again, Reggie took over the game.
He was a nightly threat from three-point land. He sure did show that in this game. In nine mere seconds, he turned the tables against the Knicks, accomplishing such a feat, does inspire. However, I think being able to shut up the ever loud Spike Lee could also be an inspirational moment in itself.
Speaking of managing to shut people up, this probably quieted down Lakers fans when it happened.
Boy, it has to feel good to do this. I'm sure the game-winner here, Ralph Sampson, must have felt good about this. This may of been the greatest shot in his career, if not one of the best in the history of the NBA.
Having one second on the shot clock and getting off a shot is hard enough, and when you have a 7-foot tall Hall of Fame player right in front of you, you don't have an easy job. To be honest, this shot looked like pure luck and nothing more. However, luck or not, the shot was still worth the same amount, a game- winning shot.
I'm sure whoever saw this felt inspired by this majestic moment.* Ralph Sampson may not of been a tough guy in the league, but this was one tough shot.
*Disclaimer: Lakers fans who watched this may not be as inspired as others NBA viewers.
Speaking of tough shots, here's an infamous one by Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan—his name itself inspires. However, his name isn't all he has. He also has several inspirational games, whether it's the flu game, scoring 64 on a young Shaq with a bad right hand or leading his team to the third most team championships in NBA history (behind the Celtics and Lakers).
It's simple, Michael Jordan is an inspirational person. However, Michael will be on this list twice.
"The Shot" was a result of the Cavaliers quick attempt at a game-winning shot. Michael had scored on one end with six seconds remaining. The Cavaliers were now down by one and on the out-of-bounds play, made an amazing play, resulting in a layup. The Bulls now had three mere seconds to win this game.
Off the timeout, Sellers was to inbound the ball, Michael Jordan wrestled to get open, received the ball around the three-point line. From there, he dashed to the free-throw line. From there, Michael put a contested shot, and it went in as time expired. This shot sent the Cavaliers packing for the summer, and although Michael Jordan wouldn't win a title that season, that shot was a huge stepping stone in his career.
(The Shot III starts at 4:59 in the video)
Here is the other moment by Jordan. During the first shot against the Cavaliers, he was an up-and-coming player with everything to prove in the playoffs. His second "shot" was again against the Cavs, around the same spot, where he was an established player who was en route to a championship.
This shot, No. 3, is his final buzzer-beater against the Cavaliers. Jordan is now 40 years old, in his twilight years in the league but still has something to prove- that he's still as good as ever.
This moment is usually overlooked because of two key facts. One, he's on his way out of the NBA, and two, he's on the Wizards. I find this moment inspirational though, because it seemed like Michael Jordan didn't know his own age. I think he could be 100 years old and still pull a game-winning shot, if you were wearing a Cavalier jersey, anything is possible for Jordan.
Other Inspirational moments from Jordan's Wizard days that I wanted to put on here, but chose this instead:
Michael drops 51 at the age of 38
Michael drops 41 at age 40
Michael drops 35 on KG/Billups and the Timberwolves
Michael drops 25 in his last game against the Celtics (not last game in the league)
Michael beats up Ron Artest (matchup wise)
And the list could go on and on. However, I think the point is clear. Michael is downright inspirational.
Note: If you are someone who doesn't appreciate Michael Jordan's dominating lists, you will be happy to know that this is Jordan's last slide.
Speaking of dominant players, here's some Magic. This video contains 10 moments of Magic Johnson's abilities of clutch performing. Magic was no ordinary person. He had the body of a center and played point guard. Very few centers have the ability to shoot past the free-throw line, yet Magic could shoot three-pointers and even half-court shots.
There was nothing like it, and probably never will be ever again. Easily the most versatile player in the league ever. If you don't believe me, just watch the video, Magic Johnson was truly amazing. If you wanted offense, defense, ball movement, a last second shot, energy, a voice on the team, it was Magic Johnson all the way.
His unique combination of skills made him a true 1980s legend.
Speaking of 1980s legends, here is one. This time it's coming from famous Celtic Larry Bird. As long as Larry was in the game, anything was possible.
Larry goes for the game-winning layup but gets blocked, and the ball sailed out of bounds with about five seconds left. With the Pistons up by a point, all they needed to do was get the ball inbound and away from Boston and just dribble out the clock. Larry Bird had other plans, however and stole the inbound pass, then passed it to DJ Johnson for the game-winning layup.
This moment had it all: energy, determination, passion. Simply put, this was just incredible.
I don't think anyone expected this to happen.
Speaking of the unexpected...
Tracy Mcgrady could of been a lock for the Hall of Fame. Injuries have prevented him from reaching his potential. However, this moment in NBA history shows what Tracy could of been, if he had stayed healthy. This is a very inspirational moment, and if this was ranked, it would probably be in the top three.
No one expected the Rockets to pull out a win from this game, and if anyone did, certainly not from Tracy Mcgrady. Every time I watch this video, it gives me chills, because even though I know the outcome, I'm still amazed the ball goes in. Tracy made four three-point shots. Including a rare four-point play, poor Tim Duncan never saw it, or the loss, coming.
That being said, Tracy probably inspired himself. Who knows what he could of been if he had stayed healthy. All we do know is that in that game, Tracy McGrady was a real bad boy.
Speaking of real bad boy, Isiah Thomas is on this list too. He well deserves a spot on the list with an absolutely astonishing performance. With an ankle injury in the 1988 Finals, Isiah wasn't expected to play. Not only did he end up playing, but he was carrying the team on his back, all while struggling to stand.
He refused to give up, no matter what, he wasn't just a bad boy, he was the leader of and the definition of "Detroit Bad Boy." That name wasn't just a title given to the Pistons. This is who the Pistons were; they were rough, they were tough, they had heart and Isiah Thomas proved it with this game.
He may not of been a very liked player, with his defensive grit and dirty tactics, but he sure knew how to inspire.
Speaking of Pistons, here we have...
OK wise guy! What's the deal? These slides are suppose to be about specific moments! Why do you have the 2004 Detroit Pistons on here? Furthermore, why is there only a clip of Rasheed Wallace?
Truth is, this slide is a bit out of the loop. However, What the Detroit Pistons did was nothing short of amazing. Without a true superstar, but with amazing defense and teamwork, managed to overcome a Lakers team that had four future Hall of Fame players and was only one year removed from a three-peat. With Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'neal leading the Lakers, they seemed unstoppable. They were expected to steamroll the Pistons, with many expecting a sweep, and a majority of experts said the Lakers would win in five games.
As expected, the series only lasted five games. Just like the experts predicted, too bad they got the winner wrong. The Pistons, who probably will only have one future Hall of Fame player (and even that's a stretch, sorry Chauncey), took down the Lakers.
As for the video? It is representatives of the Detroit Pistons. The ball, much like the team, was a longshot for their goal, nobody thought it could happen. However, the closer the ball got, the more people started to believe, when it went in, that goal was reached (championship). By the way, that shot sent the game into overtime, and the Pistons eventually won.
Speaking of being against all odds—OK, you are probably tired of me using that phrase, and I sincerely apologize. It was just a good way to open up the slide.
What is Love?! It's 31 points and 31 rebounds. Everything about this is inspirational, Kevin Love is in his third NBA year, and one of the most special big men in the league. He's unselfish, with those 31 points and rebounds he also had five assists. He doesn't get as much attention as Blake Griffin does but easily has the same potential. I'd call him a young rebounding Dirk Nowitzki, he is a good shooter like Dirk but has a better rebounding ability.
By the way, if you think along these lines:
"Dirk is a future Hall of Fame player! He brought his team to the finals twice! Love has a long way to go to even reach the feet of Dirk!"
While this is true, Love is in good company, all players to have 30 points 30 rebounds are in the Hall of Fame. He also beat another Hall of Fame player, Moses Malone, in most consecutive double-doubles. Coincidentally, Moses was also 6'10".
Maybe this shouldn't just be about this game. Kevin's overall youth, talent, maturity, potential and unselfishness are all inspiring, you wouldn't expect this out of someone this young. He's no ordinary player, and this game proves it.
Before it's over though, here are some questions you may have, that I'll answer:
"Needs more (insert inspiring performance here)"
This list only had 10 slots, there are many others that may be better than what I have, and if you feel you have such a player performance, then by all means, please share. I also wanted to add Magic Johnson, Shaq's game-winning three-pointer, Derek Fisher's 0.4 shot and many others.
"You have Michael Jordan's Shot I and III, where is No. 2?"
I didn't include it for two reasons. One, I didn't find the second as inspiring as the first and third. Second, I figured I could just mention it in one of the two "The Shot" slides.
"I didn't find one of these videos inspirational"
As I said, it may come down to a matter of preference, what someone finds inspirational, another person may not.
"I have an idea or want to hear something about my team, will you write an article for me?"
I'll write for anyone, about any team, as long as it's NBA related.
"Anything else you want to say to us readers?"
Yes, in fact! I really hope you all enjoyed the article!
On an unrelated note, I've never tried this before on Bleacher Report, so I think I'll give it a shot. I'm going to try make a humor article sometime in the future. I've written plenty of articles, mostly about humor and satire, before on other sites. I've never tried it here, mostly because the formula for a successful article is different; On those other sites, it would be more a weekly update of what's going on, while on Bleacher Report, normally an article is about one event. Anyway, should be interesting to try.