While driving down the Princes Highway from Bulla to Geelong today I turned my radio dial to Gold 104.3 FM (for those non-Melbournians that is the station where you get your fix of 60s, 70s and 80s music) expecting to hear some old-school mellow tunes to soothe my soul. Instead I was shocked to hear Alanis Morissette blasting out “Hand in My Pocket” at a pitch that threatened to implode the crappy sound system on my seriously old Saab. My immediate reaction was to yell ”What the f–k is this doing on this station?!” but then I spent five seconds quietly reflecting on my teenage years when the sounds of Jagged Little Pill were wafting out of every music store in town. It was weird. I quickly dismissed it as a Gold 104 mistake – the kind of one in a million song a radio station plays when they’re hoping no one is listening.

Five hours later on my return voyage, stuck in peak hour traffic, I switched back to Gold hoping for some decent Zeppelin or Hendrix. You’ll never guess what I heard… it was Alanis freaken Morissette again with “You Learn” whose message was surely directed at me for not learning from my earlier mistake. Seriously, what are the odds of that? Equally disturbing was the fact that this “oldies” radio station was playing tunes from my adolescent youth. These songs were released in 1995… you can’t put them back-to-back with the all-time classics from the Stones, Beatles and U2!

Sitting there stunned in my Saab, I was left to ponder the only three possible meanings of this unlikely event:

  1. I am much older than I think I am, and 1995 is a lot further in the past than I thought it was. Could it be that Gold 104 is perfectly entitled to play “classic” Alanis Morissette songs? After all, there isn’t really any other station that could get away with it now.
  2. It was a sign that this twelve year-old album perhaps contains a secret meaning that I must pursue at this stage in my life. When I got home I quickly Googled the album in the hope of finding some hidden reason why it haunted me on this day, but I couldn’t really find anything of note apart from the fact there was a guitarist on the album called Basil Fung, and Basil Fung happens to be a fairly hilarious name.
  3. It was a sign from the basketball Gods that I should jump on the Kickz podcast page and write a blog for all the NBA fans out there commemorating the 1995 NBA season.

As “You Learn” was left pumping on my stereo, it dawned on me that number 3 was the obvious choice, and it was the last verse that gave it away:

You grieve you learn
You choke you learn
You laugh you learn
You choose you learn
You pray you learn
You ask you learn
You live you learn

If that isn’t an ode to the game of basketball I don’t know what is. So with that in mind I jumped into the history books to find out what we’d all forgotten about the 1995 season so many many years ago (cue flashback music)…. 

  • It was the year MJ came back as a Bull wearing the 45, dropping the 55 at MSG, then dropping out of the playoffs against the Magic.
  • It was the year the Houston Rockets finished 6th in the West and went on to win the Championship after going through four 55+ win teams in the playoffs.
  • It was the year Hakeem followed up his embarrassment of David Robinson by embarrassing Shaquille O’Neal and immediately stamping himself as one of the all-time best centres. It was the most dominating performance by a centre I’ve seen in a Finals series. Shaq in 00-02 doesn’t come close because he didn’t play against any MVP caliber centers… Hakeem certainly did.
  • It was the year Nick Van Excel built his clutch legacy by hitting the game-winning three in OT to give the Lakers a 98-96 win over the Spurs in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semis (after hitting another three in the final seconds of regulation time to force the extra session).
  • It was the year of Reggie Miller’s famous 8.9 seconds where he scored eight points in one of the most improbable finishes to an NBA playoff game you’ll ever see.
  • It was the year Grant Hill and Jason Kidd shared Rookie of the Year honours
  • It was the year Clyde Drexler’s NBA legacy was saved by crossing over the line from “one of the most athletically gifted shooting guards with a total choking problem” to “champion”. Funny what winning a title can do.
  • It was the year the Bulls set out on their historic 72-10 season
  • It was the year Joe Smith, Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, Damon Stoudamire, Michael Finley and Fred Hoiberg came out of the draft
  • It was the year Robert Parish played his 20th season in the league (how is that possible?)
  • It was the year Magic Johnson came back to the Lakers from the HIV scare
  • It was the year Scottie Pippen finished the season leading the Bulls in EVERY major statistical category – only five guys have ever done that
  • It was the year the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors entered the league
  • It was the year Isiah Thomas actually made a good decision as GM by selecting Damon Stoudamire with the Raptors first pick, who would go on to win Rookie of the Year in ‘96
  • And in perhaps the biggest news of the ‘95 season, it was the year when Thunder Dan Majerle was traded to the Cleveland Cavs and ended up hitting only 146 three-pointers (when he had made over 190 in his previous two seasons… the man was a freak!)

So there you have it. The year 1995 was certainly a big one for the NBA with the return of MJ, the birth of two new teams, a high-quality draft, and the Majerle trade. If it wasn’t for Alanis I probably wouldn’t have bothered reading about all that, but just like earlier in my car today, it felt good taking a trip down memory lane. If you’re like me and you remember “You Learn” and “Hand in my Pocket” from the days your young sister had it blaring out her stereo across the hall, it’s nice to think that KG, Sheed and Dyess were making a whole lot more noise across the other side of the world. When I think back to MJ’s return and Rudy T making the unforgettable “heart of a champion” call in the ‘95 Finals, it doesn’t make me feel old. It just makes me kind of mad that I didn’t take more of it in. I don’t want 2007 to be forgotten like that because it might be the biggest year the NBA has seen in a while. The year Oden and Durrant take over, the year Lebron gets his killer mentality, the year the Spurs embark on their unresolved back-to-back quest. I’m gonna savor it for all its worth, just as every NBA season should be. And it’s not gonna take hearing “Sexy Back” on Gold 104 in 2019 to make me realise that.

 


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