NBA Inside Stuff magazine will go behind the scenes to cover the postseason atmosphere at arenas around the league during NBA Playoffs 2001. Here is a look at the scene in Philadelphia during Game 2.
When you go to an NBA playoff game, you expect to see men behaving as warriors. You expect focus, preparedness, and hard fouls. You expect everything to be serious.
But it isn't always that way. Shortly before Game 2 in the Sixers-Pacers series, not far from the Pacers' team bus, the busiest team in the arena was a juggling troupe.
These weren't just any jugglers, either. These were the great Boehmer Family Jugglers, the "largest and most creative family of jugglers in the world." One guy even had a huge, shiney canoe, which he later balanced on his face to the delight of Sixers fans.
The playoff atmosphere didn't get any more intense a few yards down the concourse, where two arena staffers were finishing the job of filling a giant, indoor, remote-controlled blimp with hot air ... and chips. Playoffs or no playoffs, this is, after all, entertainment. And the people need their snack-blimps.
Eventually, however, the playoff atmosphere did become pervasive. A pre-game visit to the locker rooms revealed a number of silent, brooding players. Almost every Pacer was listening to music on headphones. Jermaine O'Neal
watched videotape on a small screen.
Meanwhile, down the hall, the Sixers listened to loud hip hop of DJ Allen Iverson
's choosing -- the sound system is conveniently located right next to AI's locker, and he wasn't hesitating to take full advantage. Jay-Z seemed to be one of his favorites.
Nobody was really talking, but just in case they did, dozens of reporters milled around, idly watching game tape on a big projection TV. A box of pretzels, a bottle of mustard, and an empty pizza box graced the only available tabletop. At one point Iverson livened things up by joining in with the CD, crying at the top of his lungs: "NO MORE MISTER NICE GUY."
Allen was not excessively nice to the Pacers in Game 1, but, just in case, he was downright nasty to them in Game 2. For a guy with so much heart, energy, talent, and speed, it's almost unfair to give him nights where he can't miss a jumper. Forty-five points on 15-for-27 shooting attest to that.
After the game, the Answer was doing everything he could to make sure the serious playoff atmosphere the Sixers had perfected for this night was not lost. Despite the win, he was not laughing. He was dead serious, and he was making guarantees. "There is no way we are coming back here to play again," Iverson told Sixers President Pat Croce while getting dressed after the game. (What? He thinks they're going to lose two in Indy?)
"Until the second round," Ivy clarified. You heard it here first: Iverson predicts the Sixers in four.
Veteran Pacers guard Reggie Miller
wasn't making any predictions after Game 2. Instead, the pensive Miller was sounding more like a head coach-in-training. In his post-game press conference, decked out in a dapper suit and tie, Miller sounded just like a bench leader. Among his thoughts on the loss: "It was good for our young guys. They haven't experienced something like that." Just minutes after suffering a severe playoff loss, very few players see a good side to it. They generally leave that kind of talk to the coaches -- or, in this case, to the future-coaches.