Sports Throwback Thursday: 1998-99 NBA Lockout

This week’s Sports Throwback Thursday will touch on the 1998-99 NBA Lockout. The lockout lasted from July 1, 1998, to January 20, 1999, and forced the season to 50 games per team. The lockout affected All-Star Game weekend. Therefore, it got canceled.

The National Basketball Players Association opposed the owners’ plans and wanted raises. The two sides failed to reach an agreement. The dispute received a lot of criticism from sports fans and media. The NBA lost about $500 million in total player salaries and more than $1 billion overall. The league’s reputation took a big hit.

Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, the last NBA game before the lockout, was the end of the Golden Era in the NBA. Jordan hit a game-winning shot, clinching the Bulls’ third consecutive championship and their sixth in eight seasons. To this day, it’s the highest-rated game in league history, 35.89 million viewers watched Jordan’s last game before retiring for the second time. Those are staggering numbers.

16 million viewers watched the San Antonio Spurs defeat the New York Knicks in the 1999 NBA Finals, down 40 percent from the previous year. Knicks made history by becoming the first No.8 seed to go to the Finals. Tim Duncan, in his second season in the league, won Finals MVP. Spurs won their first title in their franchise history. They would go on to win four more in the Duncan/Popovich era.

I have four favorite moments from the 1999 campaign. All of these moments come from the playoffs.

  • Knicks shooting guard Allan Houston hits a game-winning shot against the No. 1 seed Miami Heat in Game 5 of the first round.
  • Brian Grant and Karl Malone trash-talking and battling in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Blazers and Jazz.
  • Sean Elliott’s game-winning three-pointer in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals between the Blazers and Spurs. This game is known as the “Memorial Day Miracle.” Blazers were dominating throughout the whole game up until that moment.
  • Larry Johnson’s four-point play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. He also got fouled on the play by Antonio Davis. The garden exploded when he made the shot. Knicks beat the Pacers 92-91.

The NBA didn’t experience another lockout until the 2011-12 season.

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