Today in Sports History: May 25th


(Starks throws it down over Jordan. Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler, Getty Images)

5/25/1981 - Spider Dan scales Sears Tower

Climbing up buildings is hardly a sport, but it is a phenomenal athletic achievement -- especially without the help of a safety valve. In 1981, 25 year-old acrobat Daniel Goodwin did just that. Dressed in a homemade Spider-Man costume, Dan scaled all 110 floors of the Sears Tower -- then the tallest building in the would -- with nothing more than suction cups and grasping hooks. When he finished his ascent seven-and-a-half hours later, a huge crowd had gathered at the foot of the building. Goodwin was instantly arrested by the police and was later given a $35 fine.

Dan became somewhat of an instant celebrity after that. He began appearing on talk shows and stated that his purpose for climbing buildings was to increase awareness in the flaws of skyscrapers -- a concern he developed after watching the MGM Grand burn down. The media dubbed him "Spider Dan," and Marvel, the owners of the Spider-Man character, later sued Goodwin for copyright infringement. The company lightened up when Goodwin stopped performing in the Spider-Man outfit and Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-Man, later wrote the foreword to Goodwin's book, SKYSCRAPERMAN.

5/25/1993 - Starks posterizes Grant and Jordan

In Game 2 of the 1993 conference finals between the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls, John Starks throws down one of the sweetest dunks in NBA history. With less than a minute to go in the game, Starks sealed a New York victory by maneuvering past B.J. Armstrong, charging down the baseline, and slamming it down over both Horace Grant and Michael Jordan with his left hand.

"I saw the opening and there was nobody in the lane," said Starks. "I went up hard, in case I got fouled, and dunked it."

"He just kept elevating and elevating," Knicks guard Doc Rivers said. "It was tremendous. ... That was a highlight reel dunk."

The Knicks won, 96-91, and took a 2-0 lead in the series. Chicago came back and won the next four games to advance to the NBA Finals. New York would have to wait a season to get to the finals themselves.


(Miller shoots over Scottie Pippen. Photo by Fernando Medina, Getty Images)

5/25/1998 - Miller pushes off Jordan

With 0.7 seconds left in the fourth game of the conference finals, Reggie Miller hits a fading three-pointer to give the Indiana Pacers a 96-94 lead over the Chicago Bulls. Miller had been struggling to break free from Chicago defenders, and when he got to the top of the circle, he did the unthinkable and pushed off from Michael Jordan. That slight shove gave him just the room he needed. The ball was inbounded to him by Derrick McKey, and Miller sunk the go-ahead bucket.

''I shouldn't have been out there,'' said Miller, had been limping thanks to a sprained ankle. ''I thought Larry Bird just forgot about me. There's no way I should have been out there for 42 minutes. I thought I was killing us. I was just a stand-alone jump shooter out there.''

Miller scored only 15 points, but 13 of them came in the final quarter.

The Bulls still had a chance to win. On their final possession, the ball was passed to Michael Jordan, who had a decent look at a three-pointer. Jordan's shot was off and the Pacers won. Thanks to Miller's heroics, the series was tied at 2-2.

Chicago came away livid at the officiating. "This was Munich in '72 revisited," said Bulls coach Phil Jackson. "The inadequacies in the officiating were tough to stomach."

"It's us against the world, including the referees," said Jordan. "But I'm not here to point fingers."

In Game 5, the Bulls went out and destroyed the Pacers by 19. Indiana was without Jalen Rose in that game, as Rose was suspended for leaving the bench during a skirmish that took place in the closing seconds of Game 4. In Game 6, Indiana narrowly came away with a 92-89 home win -- setting the stage for a Game 7 between the two teams two nights later.

5/25/2002 - Celtics complete epic comeback

The Boston Celtics defeat the New Jersey Nets, 94-90, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, pulling off the largest fourth quarter comeback in NBA playoff history. Boston was down by as much as 26 and entered the final period trailing by 21 points, three points more than the highest playoff deficit that had ever been rectified. But the Celtics began to drive to the basket and slowly but surely chipped away at the Nets' enormous advantage. They outscored the Nets 41-16 in the quarter, while Paul Pierce, who missed 12 of his first 14 shot attempts, outscored New Jersey by himself with 19 in the quarter.

"It's hard to describe what we just witnessed," Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said after the game. "It was the greatest comeback that I've ever been a part of, especially from the standpoint of how much was riding on this game." It was an unprecedented comeback; teams leading by 19 or more to start the fourth had been 0-171 -- plus it happened against the New Jersey Nets, the best team in the Eastern Conference.

But while the Celtics earned praise for their record comeback, the result was mostly pinned on the complete mismanagement of the Nets, who had put together a pathetic quarter of offense and defense. Offensively, they only managed to score 16 because backup center Aaron Williams became their primary option -- in lieu of a go-to-guy. Their defense was even worse. Of the Celtics' 11 fourth quarter field goals, nine were layups, one was a wide-open jumper by Kenny Anderson, and the other was a wide-open three by Tony Delk. Even Paul Pierce said, "You could see it in their eyes, like nobody wanted to shoot the ball."

"We blew it," said Nets coach Byron Scott. "Plain and simple, we blew it. We just stopped playing in the fourth quarter. We went hard for three but forgot the last one. We went from attack mode to lackadaisical."

"I'm more disappointed in the defense that I had," said Nets guard Kerry Kittles, who struggled all quarter to stay in front of Paul Pierce. ''He was getting to the basket pretty easily on one dribble and spinning and splitting double-teams."

''It wasn't anything he did,'' Kenyon Martin said of Pierce. ''It was us. We knew he was going to be aggressive.''

Although many people saw the game as a turning point in the Celtics' season, it turned out to be the exact opposite. After losing Game 3 and trailing the series 2-1, the Nets won the final three games of the round and advanced to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately for them, no one on New Jersey could initiate their own bucket without point guard Jason Kidd passing it to them -- a flaw that cost them severely against the back-to-back defending champions; in the 2002 Finals, the L.A. Lakers swept the Nets in four games to earn their third consecutive NBA title.

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