Before the 1999-2000 NBA season started the Portland Trail Blazers assembled a great team full of depth and talented players, starting with adding a six-time champion, Scottie Pippen.
They also added Steve Smith and completed a pretty good starting lineup along with Rasheed Wallace, Damon Stoudamire, and Arvydas Sabonis.
The bench was great also, consisting of names like Bonzi Wells, Brian Grant, Jermaine O’Neal, Detlef Schremp, and Greg Anthony. An all-around very talented team that presented a lot of trouble for the rest of the league.
Led by their head coach Mike Dunleavy, they finished the regular season with a great record of 59-23, being the second best team in the league behind the powerhouse Los Angeles Lakers led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
They would eliminate the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz before an epic clash in the Western Conference Finals against who other than the Lakers.
It was a matchup everybody was anticipating for the whole season. The 2-man show of LA against the team collective of Portland who went 10-man deep.
As expected it was a battle and the series went into Game 7 that was being played in the Staples Center. It would go on to be one of the most memorable games ever.
Going into the 4thquarter the Blazers had a 15-point lead and were with one foot in the Finals. But then they absolutely broke down and blew their lead, as they lost that quarter 31-13, as Brian Shaw hit a few crucial threes and then Kobe and Shaq capped it off with one of the most famous alley-oops ever.
The Lakers would go on to beat Reggie Miller and the Pacers in the Finals and win the championship, as the heartbroken Blazers could only watch and think about how they could have been in their place.
Scottie Pippen and Rashed Wallace recently talked about their regrets in that game on ESPN’s The Jump. Rasheed’s only regret was that they didn’t hit at least a few of the 13 consecutive shots they missed, while Scottie regretted he didn’t fill in the leader role and calmed down his teammates because it was his first year there and they didn’t have enough chemistry.
A lot of things could have been different if the Blazers didn’t break down. Scottie Pippen could have gotten his 7thring, Sabonis could have won an NBA championship after winning everything in Europe, they could have hanged a championship banner finally in the Rose Garden and that team probably wouldn’t fall apart.