POSTED: Oct 3, 2013 7:40 PM ET
Returning for its third consecutive season, NBA TV's critically acclaimed Open Court will tip off Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 6 p.m. ET with the first of four episodes airing each Tuesday throughout the month. The show will once again feature a cast of NBA greats including a mix of TNT and NBA TV analysts and special guests sharing their personal accounts of some of the league's top moments and storylines.
Open Court will be hosted by Ernie Johnson with a combination of analysts including Hall of Famers Charles Barkley, Isiah Thomas, Julius Erving and Dominique Wilkins; NBA Champions Steve Kerr, Kenny Smith, Steve Smith and Brent Barry; seven-Time NBA All-Stars Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady; and former 3-point record holder Dennis Scott.
The first show of the season will reflect on the dynasties and dramatic moments of the 1990s. During the episode, Thomas pinpoints Karl Malone and his free-throw shooting as the "weak link" in the Utah Jazz's inability to win a championship. He also reveals the events which led to the Pistons walking off the court during the final seconds of the Eastern Conference finals against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in 1991.
Isiah Thomas: Malone the Weak Link
The panel also expands on Chicago's focus and drive to win six championships within the decade, as well as the physical play of teams such as the Pistons and New York Knicks, the perimeter play of the Houston Rockets and Seattle Supersonics, and the start of another dynasty, the San Antonio Spurs, in 1999.
Excerpts from the season premiere of Open Court:
Thomas on Malone and the Jazz not getting over the hump: "I thought they had everything that it took to win a championship. I thought they had the system. I thought they had the players, the toughness, defensive-minded and everything ... but I always thought [Karl] Malone really was the weak link because he's wasn't a good foul shooter. Had he been a good foul shooter, they would've beat Chicago. I think they would've beat you [directed at Kenny Smith, a former member of the Rockets].
Thomas on what led to the Pistons walking off the court in the final seconds of the 1991 playoffs: "Before the Bulls swept us in '91, I remember clearly, [Michael] Jordan and Phil Jackson, and everyone, because they swept us in Detroit, and they went on a day, day-and-a-half tirade about how we were bad for the game, we were bad people, how Laimbeer was a thug ... in our town, they were getting ready to win, they were up 3-0. And then they had this press conference just totally disrespecting us as champions. They went on to sweep us and the decision was made, you know, to just walk off."
Isiah Thomas: Shouldn't Have Walked Off
Kenny Smith on the Pistons and culture: "The Pistons were respected, but it was kind of like you were the first rap culture that embraced it and said, 'No, I'm cool with that and actually going to use that.' So for everyone it was a shock. We all grew up in the Dr. J-era, the gentlemen of the game. And you guys said, 'No, [we might] look like gentlemen, but we ain't gentlemen."
Steve Kerr on the drive of the Bulls dynasty: "Well, I got there the second part of the three-peat, so the original kind of push came when the Bulls beat Isiah's Pistons, which they had been trying to do for years and couldn't get over the hump. I think Isiah touched on it. Phil Jackson's presence on the sidelines, the installment of the triangle, helping to kind of balance the offense, and to keep Jordan moving around, that was all huge."