In April, we posed a simple question to our NHL writers, readers and r/hockey community: What one video would you show someone to make them a hockey fan? The responses were numerous and quite entertaining, spanning teams, decades and thousands of lost teeth. With the NBA Finals approaching, we decided to pose the same question to our NBA community: What one video would you show someone to make them a fan of NBA basketball? Below are a few of the responses we received from our SI writers (a couple of whom had similar tastes), readers and the r/NBA community.
I probably watched "NBA Superstars," the compilation that the clip above is from, a few hundred times as a boy. The whole thing was great, if a bit hokey in retrospect -- cue Larry Bird to the strains of John Cougar -- but the Barkley video was always my favorite. To me, Barkley was the most entertaining player alive, and this is Chuck at his best. The crazy dunks, the emotion, the Barkley death stare. If you can't get into this, you're not going to like basketball. Bonus points because the woman rocking the vocals, Patty Smyth, is now married to John McEnroe. -Chris Ballard
I can’t help but feel some sympathy for Tyronn Lue when I watch this play. Not only is Lue badly faked out by Allen Iverson’s crossover, he falls to the floor, just in time to watch Iverson’s stepback J -- the lasting highlight of a breathtaking 48-point, five-assist, five-steal performance in a Game 1 win over the Lakers in the 2001 Finals -- swish through the hoop. And then -- and this is the best part -- AI triumphantly steps over Lue while glaring down at him, as if to say, "Why are you even trying to guard me?" Lue probably wishes he would have asked himself that question beforehand. Oh well. In any case, this is at the top of my list of favorite NBA plays, and the main reason it’s there -- and will likely stay there for a long, long time -- is because of something that happened after the play. Confused? You shouldn’t be. Just know that if you’re not an NBA fan, but are sorta-kinda interested in becoming one, there’s an incalculably minute chance you’ll ever see something this awesome. -Chris Johnson
The "NBA Superstars" VHS tape that was released in 1990. This is nostalgia defined. By today's YouTube standards, the actual video reels might not seem all that special, but back then this was the best way for a young kid to get access to three minutes worth of top-shelf highlights for the NBA's biggest stars, including Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Julius Erving and others. Each player's tape was set to a song by the likes of Whitney Houston, Billy Joel and others, just to totally complete the "NBA's Golden Age" experience. I was seven when this tape was released and I bet I watched it 50 times a year for the next half-decade. It goes without saying that the Jordan tape -- set to Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" -- is a standout. It even opens with footage of a fighter jet taking off from an aircraft carrier to get the blood pumping and put Jordan's aerial feats into context. The Bird reel, which really succeeded in showing his passing and his improvisational ability, played out to "Small Town" by John Mellancamp and it included footage from French Lick. Every time I've heard that song in the last 20-something years I have a Pavlovian response where my mind's eye pictures Bird whizzing a no-look pass backwards over his head to Robert Parish for a dunk, as Kevin McHale grasps at air thinking the ball was headed his way. -Ben Golliver
Whenever I’m writing with my comedy partner, Rollie, and he and I get stuck, we watch NBA buzzer-beaters. Since we’re both from Denver and we were both watching this when it happened, this 3-point, game-winning buzzer-beater from Nuggets guard Randy Foye is definitely our favorite. It’s got everything that makes basketball fun – a tense last-minute play, a Hail Mary shot, an overjoyed celebration from the entire team, and a silly announcer singing the Randy Foye version of "Danny Boy." Athleticism, teamwork, and chuckles -- what more could you ask for? -Nicole Conlan
I debated sending in a highlight tape of the 2002 Kings, my favorite team of all-time. I considered a particularly emotional montage of a high-flying, pre-injury Derrick Rose, as a native Chicagoan. But of course, I had to stick with Michael Jordan. In this video you'll find what has proven to be truly the greatest shot of MJ's career, in which he liberated a lovable group of cartoon characters from enslavement and capped off a film that, embarrassingly or not, kick-started a love affair with basketball for an impressionable four-year-old. Others MJ might have inspired include Blake Griffin (Jordan clearly pioneered the drop-it-in-the-bucket strategy) and the creators of The Matrix (who do you think taught Neo to bend reality to his will?). Also: Bill Murray! -Jeremy Woo
Half man, half amazing. Vince Carter's display during All-Star weekend in 2000 essentially ruined the slam dunk contest forever. His combination of showmanship, creativity and otherworldly athleticism set an unfair standard for future slam dunk contestants to match. Carter unleashed a myriad of never-before-seen dunks that he completed to perfection on his first attempt. This performance was special because it wasn't about pushing the boundaries of what we thought possible in a dunk contest so much as pushing the boundaries of what we thought the human body was capable of. Although he never realized his full potential as the heir-apparent to Michael Jordan -- a comparison that was never just to begin with -- for one night, Vince Carter was the greatest athlete on earth, and that's definitely something worth watching. -Dan Treadway
Check out our reader contributions on the next page...
"I'm partial to videos with the original announcer calls still audible." -Prodigy195
"This monster from Kemp always comes to mind. Raw athleticism and just brute force, and the finger point makes it." -mswpinto
"Easy. Tracy McGrady's 13 points in 33 seconds." -@mgwalks
"Probably the best NBA commercial ever" -KalEl1232
"This play has it all." -KittyBacksideRedacted
My devil side says: But my angel side says: -@jakattacks
"A Finish To Remember: Game 6 Spurs/Heat." -BearsNecessity
"I'm biased as a Lakers fan, but THIS was one of the most insane finishes to a game in history. 0.4!" -Major Phaser