Issue 25: Memorable Moments from NBA Championship Celebrations

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers, who defeated the Miami Heat 106-93 to capture their 17th championship in franchise history.

To say this NBA season (and entire year, really) has been strange would be a massive understatement. The Lakers raised the Larry O’Brien championship trophy nearly a full calendar year after the season started.

And my goodness, the bubble idea actually worked. The league put all of its players in an isolated area in the house that Mickey Mouse built (Disney World, I believe it’s called) and somehow managed to complete the rest of its season. Incredible job all around by commissioner Adam Silver, the players, staff, and media.

Now that the Lakers have won, the celebrations can begin. But before the 2020 Lakers pop some bubbly and have what will no doubt be a subdued championship parade, let’s take a look back at some of our favorite post-championship-winning moments.

Mark Madsen’s Mad Dance Moves

Mark Madsen played in 453 games over nine seasons for the Lakers and Timberwolves, averaging a modest 2.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.

But he perhaps wins league MVP for greatest dance moves.

During the Lakers’ 2001 championship celebration, Shaquille O’Neal launched into a rendition of “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock. The rest of the Lakers jammed in the background, but no one was having more fun than Madsen.

He’s easy to spot – not just from his shirt tucked into his jeans — but because of how much joy is radiating from his body. The moves are unmatched and seeing such enthusiasm coming from a 6’9″ man is infectious.

Other highlights: Rick Fox already preparing for a post-NBA acting/reality show career, and Kobe Bryant wearing a Jerry West jersey while spraying people with a water gun. Simply magical.

Steve Kerr Takes Credit for Bulls’ Fifth Championship

I grew up in Chicago, so my formative years largely revolved around watching the Bulls win a bunch of championships. Things haven’t gone so well for the franchise since the late 90s, but at least we can always live in the past.

In 1997, the Bulls found themselves tied with the Utah Jazz, with only seconds left in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. During a timeout, Michael Jordan discretely whispered to teammate Steve Kerr that if the Jazz double-teamed MJ, he’d look to pass it to Kerr.

Kerr, in an act of brilliant subtlety, yells, “I’LL BE READY.”

And he was! Jordan got double-teamed and he found an open Kerr, who calmly hit the championship-winning shot. Then, at the championship parade, he took credit and told the story of how he had to bail Michael Jordan out once again. Brilliant.

Kevin Garnett Tells Us What Can Be Accomplished (Spoiler: Anything)

The only entry on this list to be featured in a song, Kevin Garnett’s post-championship speech after winning his lone championship in 2008 is just dripping with passion.

“Man, I’m so—I’m so hyped right now,” Garnett begins his interview. And the intensity only rises from there as he looks up to the heavens and yells out something we all need to hear from time to time:


Remember, Garnett toiled in obscurity in Minnesota for more than a decade before getting traded to the Boston Celtics and earning a championship. In 2008, he also won league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. That’s a pretty darn good year.

Kawhi Leonard Laughs, the World Celebrates

When Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors before the 2018-19 season, he held an introductory press conference. A reporter asked what he’d like people to know about him.

Leonard replied with three things:

  • He’s a fun guy.
  • He loves the game of basketball.
  • You’ll have to ask him more questions so he can properly respond.

He then unleashed a remarkable laugh — as one YouTube commenter puts it, it’s like he’s watching a tutorial of how to laugh and is trying to work his way through it, much like you or I might stumble through learning a new language.

The Raptors won the championship in 2019, and at the victory parade, Leonard, in a delightful self-aware moment, mocked his own laugh. The entire country of Canada (and the world, truly) responded with a standing ovation.

That’s all ’til next time. Thanks for reading!


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