If you’re an 80s baby, the scene has unique resonance with you and your childhood.
You may have been engaged in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a thrilling series between the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. Suddenly, the screen flips.
One of those “We Interrupt This Program To…” flashes. Then, the sight of a White Bronco cruising ever so slowly down Insterstate 405 jolts you into focus.
It was June 17, 1994. O.J. Simpson, accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her younger waiter pal Ron Goldman, was the only more analyzed subject than the ongoing Patrick Ewing/Hakeem Olajuwon matchup or the fiery backcourt battle between mercurial hotheads John Starks and Vernon Maxwell.
Simpson was the focal point of this low-speed chase. The disgraced former gridiron great, Hollywood actor, Hertz pitch-man, and known woman-beater sat in the backseat of the white Bronco. In a fragile state of constant emotional despair, Simpson kept a gun pointed to his temple.
Childhood friend and former USC teammate Al Cowlings (O.J.’s loyal and unwavering lapdog through the test of their friendship) was driving, trying desperately to shield Simpson from the LAPD.
Millions were suddenly captivated by this otherwise boring chase and Simpson’s massive fall from national hero and media darling to vindictive and enraged murderer.
The events which took place before and after the “Trial of the Century” and Simpson’s botched armed robbery in Vegas are all well-documented in the five part 30 for 30 documentary, “OJ: Made In America."
While the events surrounding such a monumental event have been revisited and dissected countless times, few seem to accurately recall the Knicks/Rockets series.
A veritable iron man, the 6-foot-10 Otis Thorpe is known for his sustained hustle and clean bill of health throughout a 15-year NBA career. It was Thorpe's interior hustle and rebounding which complemented the crafty post game of Hakeem Olajuwon, en route to Houston's 1994 NBA championship.
Thorpe shot the ball at 55.9 percent clip, the Rockets' highest-ever post-season field goal percentage. He was a stabilizing force for the Rockets throughout the playoffs, averaging 11.3 points to go with 9.9 boards. Thorpe enjoyed his best statistical season with the Sacramento Kings during the 1987-88 season, averaging 20.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists.
One of Boynton Beach's favorite sons, Thorpe starred at Lake Worth Community High School. A late bloomer, he didn't start playing organized basketball until age 16. From there Thorpe took off, eventually earning a scholarship to Providence College.
A one-time All-Star, many attribute Thorpe's NBA longevity to his high shooting percentage and tenaciousness in the post. Gobbling up most of his points from high-efficiency and point-blank buckets, Thorpe's durability defined his NBA career. For six straight seasons, Thorpe played all 82 games.