It’s become an NBA old-timer’s anthem.
“These guys wouldn’t have lasted in my era.”
In a modern day NBA rife with rules that encourage and perpetuate generally unobstructed lanes to the rim, there’s no shortage of former ballplayers who believe the success of wispy guards such as Golden State’s Stephen Curry would take a hit, literally, if he were to played in the ’80s and ’90s.
As is becoming increasingly typical in modern day sports media, anecdotes of a rough and tumble basketball past have quickly transitioned into hyperbole. To have guys like Barkley tell it, dust-ups, hits, and fights were an everyday occurrence. The league wasn’t really that wild, right?
But then there’s Rick Mahorn‘s four-game 1989 NBA Finals mixtape…
Of course, we know the story of the late ’80s Pistons. Physical intimidation and a general sense of discontent was their calling card. Their ESPN 30 for 30 documentary was literally called Bad Boys.
Yet, being familiar with the Pistons’ greatest hits (see: the Top 15 Fights in Pistons History) really only scratches the surface. One man racking up close to seven minutes of altercations on a stage like the NBA Finals, frankly, is kind of preposterous.
In fact, Mahorn had so many dust-ups during his team’s four-game sweep over the Los Angeles Lakers that it becomes a task to accurately track exactly how many technical fouls he racked up over the course of the series.
Speaking of which, despite numerous instances of hostile takedowns and even a few punches being thrown, this series featured zero ejections. And just like old heads always tell you, fouls like Michael Cooper‘s head-hunting job on Mahorn in Game 3 (2:36) really were just brushed off as tough common fouls.
To be honest, and this may be a local bias kicking in, Mahorn’s Finals exploits become borderline comical when viewed in succession. This dude was in to something Every. Single. Game. (Interesting sidenote: Bill Laimbeer was largely on good behavior this series, even trying to save Mahorn from a tech at 1:56.)
The ’89 Finals would be the last time Mahorn suited up for the Bad Boys (though he returned for the teal era in the mid-’90s). If nothing else, one can’t say he didn’t go out with a bang, reinforcing the legend of ’80s basketball for decades to come.