While hockey has its indelible moments—Bobby Orr’s Flying V, Bobby Clarke’s toothless grin and Ken Dryden’s show-stopping debut—this is an area where the NBA has it beat. Big time.
The speed and volume of hockey plays combined with the size of the puck make it difficult to measure up. At its best, the game seems slow to a player but moves at a frenetic pace to a fan. By contrast, hoops showmen are able to slow time and defy gravity.
Hockey will never have a Julius Erving figure, cradling the rock like a golf ball for a jam or gliding along the baseline with unimaginable body control for a reverse layup. There will be no “Human Highlight Film” vs “Larry Legend” duels—even Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin’s 2009 matching hat tricks could not measure up. In the end, hockey is brutal beauty and basketball is just plain beautiful.