As NBA TV shows custom programming during the summer hoops vacuum, the show that really stands out is the story of the late 1980s Detroit Pistons--the Bad Boys. The first thing that strikes any contemporary NBA fan is how much the game has changed. What's striking isn't so much the oft-cited improvements in the all-around "athleticism" of the players, but the physicality of the old game--how much rougher it was. It's like the NBA has been in lockstep with Times Square for decades--what was once rough and dangerous is now pristine and safe. (And worth a lot more money.)
Dedicated hoops fans know this story--how Isiah Thomas, coach Chuck Daley and company finally got over their Celtics nemesis, figured out a way to semi-control Michael Jordan, and made the Lakers look old to win back-to-back championships. But there's one moment that makes everybody who ever took a shot smile in disbelief: during a playoff game in Boston, Dennis Rodman air-balled a free throw--an exceedingly rare occurrence after the 5th grade. And then he air-balled the next one, too. This surely makes Dennis Rodman the ONLY player in the NBA Hall of Fame to have air-balled consecutive free throws in a playoff game. The Hall of Famer didn't graze the rim with either try.
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