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When I say the name Mo Williams, what comes to your mind?
For me, a lot of things. First, those glorious purple and green uniforms that we’ve all come to miss, even after the Bucks knocked their recent rebrand out of the park a few years ago. The Mo Williams Show also stands out, as at a time in which the product on the court from the Bucks was very mediocre, the off-court entertainment really meshed well. But by far, the moment from Williams that stands out the most is his incredible game-winner vs. the Pacers, a shot that capped off one incredible comeback. Let’s do a deep dive on that November night.
The date? November 12th, 2005. One of the top songs in the country at the time? Gold Digger by Kanye West. The Chicago White Sox had recently swept the Houston Astros in the World Series. I was a fourth grader at the time. As for the Milwaukee Bucks, they had an above .500 start to their new campaign and were heading into this matchup sitting at 3-1.
Milwaukee’s opponent was the Indiana Pacers, a team who had come off a 44-38 record the previous year and the No. 6 spot in the East. This marked the first time the two teams were squaring off against one another in the fresh year.
Long-time Indiana Pacers executive Donnie Walsh is stepping away from the team, he told IndyStar on Wednesday. Here are 5 things to know about Walsh’s contributions to the franchise:
Reggie Miller after being selected by the Pacers in the first round of the 1987 Draft.
1. He drafted Cheap Reggie Miller Jersey
This story is well known. Pacers fans wanted the team to take hometown hero Steve Alford with the No. 11 pick in the 1987 NBA Draft. Alford starred for New Castle High School, winning IndyStar Mr. Basketball in 1983, then led IU to the 1987 national title.
Walsh took Reggie Miller.
“Upon General manager Donnie Walsh’s announcement, the reaction from the 5,000 spectators in MSA was predictable: boos,” then IndyStar beat writer David Benner wrote.
Miller, of course, went on to stake his claim as the greatest Pacer of all-time. He joined a team that had made the playoffs twice in 13 seasons – losing in the first round both times – and was the centerpiece of a franchise that made the playoffs in 14 of 15 seasons, including six Eastern Conference finals and the 2000 NBA finals. He played all 18 of his seasons in Indiana so he dominates the career leaders lists: games (1,389; Cheap Rik Smits Jersey is second at 867), points (25,279; Smits, 12,871), assists (4,140; Cheap Vern Fleming Jersey, 4,038) and steals (1,505; Fleming, 885).
And it happened because Walsh made an unpopular decision.
Jermaine O’Neal reacts after a shot against the Celtics in the 2005 playoffs.
2. He traded for Jermaine O’Neal
Dale Davis was at the heart of some of the most successful Pacers teams in history, had just made his first all-star team … and Walsh traded him for a player who had played 11.5 minutes per game and averaged 3.9 points over the four previous seasons.
But Jermaine O’Neal quickly became the foundation of another successful run of Pacers teams.
He averaged 12.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in his first season then made six consecutive all-star teams, led the franchise to six playoff appearances and finished third in the 2003-04 MVP voting, the highest a Pacer has ever placed.
5/13/00. Pacer Jalen Rose talks over a play with coach Larry Bird. Pacers/76ers second round game 4. First Half action. (Robert Scheer Photo)
3. He traded for Jalen Rose
This deal demonstrates two levels of Walsh’s success: Trading for Rose, then holding on to him until he could reach his potential.
Walsh traded Cheap Mark Jackson Jersey, Ricky Pierce and a first-round pick for Rose, Reggie Williams and a first-round pick.
Rose was not immediately successful as he clashed with coach Larry Brown, averaging 9.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists. The fact Walsh traded the popular Jackson has been speculated to be one of the reasons for the friction. But Walsh then traded to get Jackson back and eventually replaced Brown with Larry Bird, who unlocked Rose’s potential.
Rose was the best player on the Pacers’ NBA Finals team, averaging 18.2 points on 47.0% shooting, 4.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists. He was even better the next season — 20.5 points on 45.7 percent shooting, 6.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds — but the Pacers lost in the first round of the playoffs.
“As soon (as Larry Bird was named Pacers coach), he was like, ‘I’m going to turn that guy into a player,'” Rose told SI.com. “He gave me a bigger role. I made another sacrifice that normally four-year players that were lottery picks don’t make, I actually went and played in Summer League in Orlando. Just to show Larry I appreciated him and his belief in me.”
Chicago Bulls Dennis Rodman (91) shots for two around Indiana Pacers Cheap Antonio Davis Jersey (32) during the first half of Game One the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday, May 17, 1998, in Chicago.
4. He traded for Cheap Detlef Schrempf Jersey and Antonio Davis
Cheap Herb Williams Jersey was one of the Pacers’ best players for some lean years, averaging 15.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks over 7-plus seasons.
Walsh dealt him to Dallas for Detlef Schrempf and a second-round pick that became Antonio Davis.
Schrempf averaged 8.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in four seasons in Dallas but quickly became the Pacers best player, averaging 17.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists while spending most of his time as the sixth-man. He was traded for Cheap Derrick McKey Jersey to give the team a defensive boost in 1993-94.
The Pacers also acquired a second-round pick in 1990 in that deal and used it on Davis. He didn’t join the Pacers until 1993-94 but, along with Cheap Dale Davis Jersey, was the heart and soul of a very successful run of Pacers teams.
Mark Jackson (13) cheers on his teammates from the bench as the Pacers play in 1998.
5. He traded for Mark Jackson … twice
The deals Walsh made around Mark Jackson are a class in how to run a professional sports franchise.
First, Walsh acquires Jackson for Eric Piatkowski, Pooh Richardson and Malik Sealy. Jackson helped the Pacers reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive year in 1994-95 but was then dealt after the 1995-96 season when the Pacers lost in the first round.
Jackson, Ricky Pierce and a first-round draft pick that was used on Efthimi Rentzias were traded to Denver for Cheap Jalen Rose Jersey, Reggie Williams and a first-round draft pick that became Erick Dampier. (The Pacers dealt Dampier for Chris Mullin after one season.) Rose eventually blossomed into the best player on the 2000 NBA Finals team.
“We’ll be talking about whether this is right or wrong until we start playing and then it will tell us,” Pacers executive Donnie Walsh told IndyStar at the time. “I just sensed we needed to do something just to change the nature of our team.”
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But when the Pacers started slow the following season (25-27), Walsh brought Jackson back. Eight months later, the Nuggets dealt Jackson back to the Pacers (with Cheap LaSalle Thompson Jersey) for Vincent Askew, Eddie Johnson and two second round picks (Jason Lawson and Tremaine Fowlkes). Denver was looking to clear room under the salary cap due to its struggles and the Pacers had their point guard back.
Walsh was willing to acknowledge a mistake and not only got Jackson back but surrendered little in return.
In a six-year period, the Pacers received five-and-a-half years of Jackson, Rose and Mullin for 50 games of Jackson and spare parts. Oh, and four appearances in the Eastern Conference finals, with one trip to the NBA Finals.
Indiana would gain control early on throughout the opening two periods, utilizing their talent between Jermaine O’Neal, Stephen Jackson, and Ron Artest (boy, you also get quite the trip down memory lane when I mention those names). At halftime, the visitors would lead Milwaukee by 16 points, 56-40. A big difference was the differential in free throws between the two teams. Indiana sat at 14-of-16 from the strip, while Milwaukee converted just 5-of-12.
The Pacers would keep things chugging along until the Bucks began to come alive in the third quarter, rattling off a 21-5 run. Following a pair of free throws from TJ Ford, Milwaukee knotted it all up at 61 apiece.
Despite the strong efforts by the Bucks that had put themselves back into the game, it wasn’t long before Indiana regained control. Ron Artest had a small run to begin the fourth quarter, which helped inspire Jermaine O’Neal to provide a spark with seven points of his own. In the blink of an eye, the Pacers were back up by double digits, 92-79.
However, the Bucks wouldn’t say die. Led by Michael Redd, Milwaukee would scratch and claw their way back into the thick of things. Following an 8-0 run, the Bucks found themselves back in the single-digit range at 96-90 with just over two minutes remaining in the game. Redd’s 12 points down the stretch would be crucial, especially as he knocked down three free throws after being fouled by Cheap Anthony Johnson Jersey behind the 3-point line.
Those free throws sliced Indiana’s lead to just a single point at 101-100. On the Pacers’ next possession, Cheap Fred Jones Jersey was fouled, which resulted in him splitting a pair of free throws (Indiana missed ten down the stretch). Then, with no timeouts remaining, Bobby Simmons got the rebound and the following chaos unraveled:
There are so many things to take away from that video. Williams’ celebration of crouching down to the floor as the shot was in the air was iconic. I remember my brother and I mimicking it in our driveway on our hoop for weeks to come. Jim Paschke absolutely killed the call, even though he just used three simple words: “Williams, three…YES!!!!” And how about Johnny Mac just losing his mind and yelling out “THEY WON THE GAME…UNBELIEVABLE…THEY WERE DEAD!” at the top of his lungs? Man, what a night at the Bradley Center.
What do you remember about this game? Let us know in the comments! Our Brew Hoop Co-Editor Mitchell Maurer was actually at this game…and says he blogged about it on his MySpace! Look at him connecting with Bucks fans before the existence of Brew Hoop.
Also, if you have any suggestions of a deep dive you think would be fun to go back and take a look at, suggest it as well! Hope you’re all staying safe and healthy.