This past Sunday — sandwiched somewhere in between DJ sets from Derrick “D Nice” Jones’ at his now epic, #FOMO-worthy “Home School” quarantine parties on Instagram Live — CBS did its best to try to help us fill the March Madness void. It aired two instant classics. The first game — Kansas’ 75-68 OT-win over Memphis in 2008 — featured a handful of players selected in that year’s NBA Draft including a future NBA MVP (a young, freaky explosive Derrick Rose) and a future world champion (the underappreciated Mario Chalmers). It will be remembered for Memphis choking away the win by missing what could have been game-clinching free throws, allowing Chalmers to send the game into overtime on a buzzer-beating three-pointer. CBS followed-up with another memorable buzzer-beater: Villanova’s Kris Jenkins pulling up at the top of the key and launching a game-winning three as time expired for a 77-74 win over North Carolina in 2016.
Jalen Brunson was a freshman on that Nova squad. He was watching Sunday’s CBS telecast and couldn’t help but troll his current Dallas Mavericks teammate Justin Jackson.
This is where we’re at. With virtually no live sports airing for the foreseeable future and most of us social distancing as domestic shut-ins, we have to look for other ways to get our sports fix. Recognizing this, many broadcast companies will be featuring hours and hours of oldie-but-goodies throughout this dormant period. Depending on your cable package and the number of streaming services you mooch off of family and friends, there is no shortage of classic games, documentaries, athletes, team profiles, decade lookbacks, etc. to watch or rewatch.
We want to do everything that we can to help you pass the time and fend off cabin fever. So, every Monday, we’ll be scanning weekly programming and streaming libraries to offer you viewing suggestions.
Jason Kidd turns 47, today. In celebration, NBA TV is running an eight-hour block of programming dedicated to the 10-time All-Star, who, for the first half of the 2000s was unquestionably the best point guard in the game (five-time first-team All-NBA), bookended by Gary Payton and Steve Nash. You can watch him racking up a triple-double against eventual champs Houston Rockets during his Rookie of the Year campaign and first stint with Dallas. Speaking of which, you can also catch his “Players Only” one-on-one with his co-ROY Grant Hill. You can watch Peak J-Kidd lead undermanned New Jersey Nets teams in the playoffs, back when Kidd was creating the blueprint for players like court vision-wizards and two-way Tasmanian Devils Ben Simmons and Lonzo Ball; and you can check J-Kidd the Sage in his second stint with Dallas put up 18 in the fourth quarter during the Mavs’ 2011 championship run. “Do the knowledge,” youngsters. “Never forget,” old heads.
(Monday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. EST on NBA TV)
If You Want to Watch, Perhaps, the Cementing of One of Sports’ Great Dynasties…
NHL Network is running its “Raising the Cup’’ programming throughout the week, a series that re-airs series-clinching Stanley Cup Final games. Of particular note is Game 7 of the 1987 Cup: Oilers vs. Flyers. It was the culmination of what’s considered one of the best Finals to ever take place, as the Wayne Gretzky/Mark Messier-led Edmonton Oilers rose from mere greats with back-to-back Cups to a dynasty with three in four years. The Oilers were coming off a shocking loss to the Flames the year before, but the Philadelphia Flyers proved to be the sternest test they would see from the Eastern Conference. A true clash of styles, with the speed and skill and grace of the ’80s Oilers at their peak against Mike Keenan’s roughhouse gang of ruffians and rapscallions, led by chief nut job Ron Hextall in net. Only one game was decided by more than two goals, with the series and this game, in particular, showcasing some of the highest quality and most intense hockey on display to this day.
(Monday, 11 p.m. EST on NHL Network)
MLB Network is airing a doubleheader of Randy Johnson classics, starting with his 20-strikeout game from 2001, a game worth celebrating for its weirdness in that a Hall of Famer struck out 20 batters, and the game still wound up going 11 innings. Among the Big Unit’s strikeout victims: Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin (three times), and NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. Then we get Johnson’s perfect game from 2004, which includes three Chipper Jones strikeouts among 13 total Ks. Johnson was more jaw-dropping in his dominance than he ever was fun to watch, but these two games can put chins on the floor.
(Wednesday, 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. EST on MLB Network)
CBS will come through in the clutch, again. This time with a triple-header. We get started with (apologies to N.C. State over Houston in 1983) what is still the biggest upset in Final Four history — eighth-seeded Villanova’s 66-64 win over the defending champion and Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown in 1985 at the height of “Hoya Paranoia.” Pay attention to power forward Michael Graham, an ornery mofo that was Ewing’s Charles Oakley before Charles Oakley. That’s followed by Arizona’s 1997 upset of the No. 1 seed Kentucky Wildcats, who returned many players from their 1996 championship (arguably the deepest, most talented team of the 1990s). Mike Bibby and Miles Simon weren’t playing around. The afternoon ends with Butler — one of the mid-major vanguard programs — almost beating a starless (but one-seeded, nonetheless) Duke squad in 2010. The game is remembered for a frenetic last minute and one of March Madness’ great near-misses: Gordon Hayward’s last-second, halfcourt heave he nearly banked-in.