Basketball fans remember the NBA Finals primarily for the teams that win and create dynasties, but these games are also about moments. We remember Michael Jordan's game-winning shot against the Utah Jazz in 1998, Willis Reed playing through a torn muscle for the New York Knicks in 1970, and Julius Erving's swooping reverse lay-up in 1980 as major events in the history of the league. When the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs tip off on Thursday night, they could add to that list of unforgettable plays.
In preparation for that moment, ESPN commissioned London-based animator Richard Swarbrick to put together a montage of some of the most memorable moments from past NBA Finals. All the moments listed above are in there, plus appearances from LeBron James and Tim Duncan. It is very cool and absolutely worth your time.
The best thing about is how Swarbrick's style emphasizes the mythic qualities of these moments. Video is no longer the best method of representing the plays, because simply referencing them calls to mind a vague, artistically inflected memory. Swarbrick gets that, and it's what makes his work so terrific.