The Lakers-Kings Classic 2002 Conference Championship Series

In 2002 the Lakers were coming off back-to-back titles but were starting to show cracks. Salary cap issues drained the team of depth, Shaq got fat, and Kobe’s Alpha Dog routine got harder to manage. Meanwhile, the Sacramento Kings had won the Pacific Division with 61 wins with a fun, creative team led by Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, and Peja Stojakovic. The result was an unforgettable seven-game Conference Finals series between the two teams, finished off by classic “Big-Shot Rob” Horry jumpshot. Grantland does a typically awesome job of recapturing the moment.

All the Kings’ Men, 5.7.14

The Unfulfilled Promise of Shaq and Penny’s Magic

The Orlando Magic won the Shaquille O’Neal sweepstakes in 1992, drafting him first overall, and flipped Chris Webber at the draft the next year for Penny Hardaway and three future first-round picks. Everyone agreed that the Magic were set for a meteoric rise, especially when they were surrounded by quality role players like Dennis Scott, Horace Grant, and Nick Anderson. The impending championship run short-circuited, however, when Shaq bolted for Los Angeles and Penny’s chronic knee troubles slowed his roll. Grantland looks back at the dynasty that never was.

Blue Chips: An oral history of Shaq, Penny, and the Orlando Magic’s lost NBA dynasty., 4.6.15

Scott Skiles Dishes Out a Record 30 Assists

At the end of 1990 Scott Skiles and the Orlando Magic took advantage of Paul Westhead’s frantic (and misfiring) Denver offense to run a fast-break clinic, winning a shootout 155-116. That amazing score was not why the game is remembered today, however, as Orlando’s tough point guard tallied a NBA-record 30 assists, a mark that still stands today. The Orlando Sentinel produced a 25th-anniversary tribute to that record-setting day.

Scott Skiles’ 30-assist game: An oral history of an NBA record, 12.26.15

The Incredible Beginnings of the Charlotte Hornets

When the NBA decided to expand for the 1988 season the Charlotte Hornets were one of 11 teams in the running for the new teams. The oddsmakers had them bringing up the rear, but an incredible sales job and the NBA’s love of being the only big league in town led to the Hornets being born. The little big city embraced the new team with enthusiasm unknown to a continually losing expansion team (354 consecutive sellouts to start the franchise). Charlotte Magazine details how Muggsy Bogues, Kurt Rambis, and Kelly Tripuka helped establish the NBA in college basketball country.

‘The Place Went Nuts’: An Oral History of the 1988 Charlotte Hornets, November, 2013

Kevin Garnett: Intensely Awesome

Kevin Garnett is by far the most successful player to skip college in NBA history, but that almost sells the future Hall of Famer short. His unmatched intensity, his legendary mouth, and his long career are all covered in this expansive piece by Bleacher Report.

A Man in Full: An Oral History of Kevin Garnett, the Player Who Changed the NBA, 5.18.15

Malice at the Palace: The NBA’s Ugly Player/Fan Brawl

It was near the end of a blowout win by the Pacers on Detroit’s home court, and a few hard fouls resurrected the animosity from the previous year’s rough Eastern Conference Finals. The blood was running, so to speak, and that’s when a punk fan threw a Diet Coke at the infamously volatile Ron Artest. The ugliest brawl in modern U.S. sports history was ignited and the NBA was changed forever.

Malice at the Palace: An oral history of the scariest moment in NBA history, 3.20.12