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STUDIO: Warner Brothers
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 447 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: none.
Hoosiers meets White Men Can't Jump.
Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, Dale Davis, Antonio Davis, Patrick Ewing's sweat, Larry Bird, Spike Lee, Mark Jackson, Larry Brown, John Starks, Pat Riley, Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Travis Best, Latrell Sprewell, Woody Allen.
The Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, and Chicago Bulls get together to handle each other's balls. And dribble.
The National Basketball League's Indiana Pacers joined the NBA in 1976, after being a powerhouse in the defunct American Basketball Association. After some rough early years in the NBA, the Pacers would become one of the league's strongest teams, even though they have yet to win a championship.
"Dunkin' Dutchman" Rik Smits can't figure out why Americans look at him strangely when he says he enjoys sticking his fingers in dikes.
Indiana Pacers - Greatest Games: Volume One is a four DVD set, chronicling a quartet of the Pacers' greatest games as voted online by fans. Each game – one per disc – is presented more or less in its entirety (pre-game, post-game and half-time interviews, features and analysis have been dropped), as originally seen on the NBC television network.
The games covered here are as follows: Pacers versus the New York Knicks, June 1st, 1994 (Game Five, Eastern Conference Finals); Pacers versus the Knicks, May 7th, 1995 (Game One, Eastern Conference Semifinals); Chicago Bulls at Indiana, May 25th, 1998 (Game Four, Eastern Conference Finals); and finally, the Pacers battling the Knicks yet again on June 2nd, 2000 (Game Six, Eastern Conference Finals).
Since these games were picked by the fans, you're correct in assuming that the Pacers were victorious in all of them. If you wanted to be kept in suspense and are now outraged at the lack of a spoiler warning, don't read the preceding sentence.
"Just one little kiss, please? Come on, it's not like I'm asking you to marry me or anything."
Anyhow, on to the games...
Disc One: Pacers @ Knicks, June 1st, 1994
With a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd behind them, the New York Knicks jumped out to an early lead of Oliver Miller-esque proportions. The Pacers refused to fold though, and managed to avoid getting totally blown out through the first three quarters. In the final period, a combination of stifling Pacer defense and red-hot shooting from Indiana star Reggie Miller would silence the crowd; the Pacers would win this game easily and take a 3 – 2 series lead.
"Apply directly to forehead!"
If you're a fan of defense, you'll like this game, although it's kind of dull overall. Still, it's fun watching Reggie Miller taunt the courtside Spike Lee, and you can pass some time mentally undressing play-by-play announcer Marv Albert, the smoothest, sexiest cross-dressing sportscaster in the business. YES!
Disc Two: Pacers @ Knicks, May 7th, 1995
It's the Pacers visiting those nasty Knickerbockers again, in the opening game of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Unlike the first game in the set, this chippy affair – both teams combined for over 50 fouls - had a bit more excitement, with the Pacers scoring eight points in the dying moments, eradicating a seemingly insurmountable six-point Knicks lead and escaping the hostile Gardens with a win. Reggie Miller was the hero once again, scoring eight points with under nine seconds remaining in the game.
"That's him! That's the guy who keeps playing Three Blind Mice on an air horn!"
This contest is the second-best one in the set, although the constant fouls disrupted the flow, turning a good chunk of the game into a free-throw clinic.
Disc Three: Bulls @ Pacers, May 25th, 1998
The iconic Michael Jordan and his powerful Chicago Bulls travel to Indianapolis' Market Square Arena to take on the Pacers in Game Four of the 1998 Eastern Conference Final. The combination of Jordan, oddball Dennis Rodman, stylish Scottie Pippen, and a fanatical Pacer home crowd give this game a jolt of adrenaline that the first two in the set lacked, and when Reggie Miller – again – provides the late-game heroics, the electricity and excitement in the arena is palpable. Jordan was merely ordinary – by his standards – but he played a key role in the final seconds, and nearly won the game for Da Bullz when all appeared lost.
Thanks to the Pacers having the crowd on their side and the Hollywood-worthy finish, this is probably the best game of the four. The constant fawning over of Jordan by announcers Bob Costas and Isaiah Thomas eventually becomes tiresome, however.
Despite the speed mismatch, Jordan was able to hold Speedy Gonzales to a career-low six points.
Disc Four: Pacers @ Knicks, June 2nd, 2000
After a one game respite, Patrick Ewing, coach-choker Latrell Sprewell, Larry “Grandmama” Johnson, and the rest of the New York Knicks are back, as they host the Pacers in Game Six of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals. This game is noteworthy mainly for the fact that the Pacers' series-clinching win would see them gain entry into the NBA Finals for the first time. Other than that, it's a fairly sleepy game; a see-saw battle for a while, before the Pacers put the Knicks away midway through the fourth quarter and won in a walk. There are no late-game heroics from Reggie Miller, but there was no need for them in this easy win.
Indiana Pacers – Greatest Games: Volume One is a nice collection of games for Pacers fans, but like many other sports videos, loses something in the translation from the “live” setting to the video medium. A big part of the appeal of watching or attending sporting events is being there when the drama happens and being part of it; watching it years later just isn't quite the same as experiencing it “as it happened” the first time around, even if the games themselves are good.
Coach Bird instructs his team on how to best defend against Muggsy Bogues.
It also doesn't help that the NBA didn't seem to put a lot of extra effort into making this set really worthwhile: they basically cut out all the commercials from the original broadcasts, pressed the games onto DVDs, put them in boxes, and shipped them out.
Is Latrell Sprewell going to have to choke a coach?
Slim pickings in regards to extras on Indiana Pacers – Greatest Games: Volume One. Actually, there are no extras at all. You get one game per disc, and nothing else. At least the box is attractive and will look nice on your DVD shelf, sitting alongside Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade.
If it wasn't for the fact that there are no commercials, you'd swear you were watching these games on the original VHS tapes; that's how “good” the picture quality is. The first two games are particularly fuzzy-looking, with the second one actually having a thin distorted line running across the bottom of the screen for what seems like the entire length of the game. The final two games are of better quality and more bearable to look at, but not by leaps and bounds. Everything is easy enough to make out and the action is easy to follow, but the NBA tossed up a brick when it came time to clean these up.
"Raise your hand if you want ice cream! And hate Reggie Miller!"
Audio on Indiana Pacers – Greatest Games: Volume One is presented in standard stereo, but since the sound is mostly squeaking sneakers, bouncing basketballs, crowd sounds, and announcer commentary, there's little room for any fanciful aural goodness, nor is it really needed. Audio levels are fine, and everything can be heard clearly.
6.5 out of 10