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Morgan McKenzie

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LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Benny the Bull and Lil Penny highlight hoop fans’ stroll down ‘NBA Lane’

Written by on October 7, 2021

Can you imagine covering seven-plus decades of history within three minutes?

The NBA, in an ode to its season-long celebration the league’s 75th anniversary, took hoops fans on a star-studded tour down ‘NBA Lane’ with Michael Jordan in the driver’s seat.

Though His Airness’ Team 23XI is basking in the excitement of his first victory as a NASCAR owner, it was actually Michael B. Jordan guiding the NBA’s stroll down memory lane highlighted by an array of present stars (Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball), all-time legends (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, Dirk Nowitzki, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson) and team mascots (Boomer of the Indiana Pacers, Hugo of the Charlotte Hornets, Burnie of the Miami Heat, G-Wiz of the Washington Wizards).

The NBA’s milestone season will include an unveiling of its 75 best players in league history later this month. A panel of media, current and former players, coaches and team executives will be tasked with creating the list. This time 25 years ago, the league recognized its top-50 players in alignment with its half-century anniversary.

Its tradition of recognizing legends dates back to October 30, 1980 with its 35th Anniversary Team consisting of Abdul-Jabbar, Erving, Robertson, Russell, the late Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain.

In the years since, the NBA has globalized behind its star power, the growth of three-point shooting and gravity-defying dunks. Each of those were on display as the league’s landmark celebration tips off.

“We talk a lot about the NBA family, so how do we bring that family to life and welcome our fans into that family?” NBA Chief Marketing Officer Kate Jhaveri explained about the thought process of the video special.

“We thought that there couldn’t be any better place on Earth than a place where legends, current players and up-and-coming players all get to hang out together. NBA lane is just a really great way to do that.”

Fans can also enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of NBA Lane’s neighborhood hoopers. Such specials are only the beginning of the NBA’s efforts to highlight its strides since the New York Knicks and Toronto Huskies tipped off the league’s first regular-season game on Nov. 1, 1946.

To recognize the NBA’s original franchises, the three teams that have played in every NBA season (Knicks, Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, who began as the Philadelphia Warriors) will face each other in three nationally televised games over a five-day stretch during December.

Fans can watch Stephen Curry and Golden State visit Jayton Tatum’s Celtics on Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The following month, on Jan. 7, the Atlanta Hawks will host the Los Angeles Lakers 50 years to the day of the latter’s NBA-record 33rd straight victory.

The NBA’s 75th season tips off Oct. 19 when Durant’s Brooklyn Nets visit Giannis Antetokounmpo and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.

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