On this day in history, May 7th of 1994, the youngest team in the league, no. 8 seed Denver Nuggets, pulled off one of the biggest NBA playoff upsets in history when they beat the no. 1 seed Supersonics in the first round.
The Nuggets slipped into the playoffs with a 42-40 record and lost the first 2 games of the series, including a 24 point loss in game 1, to the Sonics team that just won a franchise record 63 games. Denver responded by winning the next 3 behind the defense of Mutombo and the scoring of Reggie Williams, LaPhonso Ellis, Bryant Stith and 6th man Robert Pack.
“I don’t think anyone got dressed for an hour,” Stith said. “We were just all back in the back reliving every moment.”
Via an interview with Mutombo with Bleacher Report,
“Even though we were the youngest team in the league, playing the top-seeded Sonics, we had this mentality: It was the playoffs, and we were going to step in the ring together even though they may knock us out with one punch. We all thought of Mike Tyson, one of the greatest boxers ever to step in the ring in our lifetime. And we saw him going up in the ring and knocking people down. Some guys didn’t get back up, some guys got back up in one minute, some guys got back up right away. So you just have to be ready.”
The image of Dikembe Mutombo, who had 8 blocks in the final game, embracing the ball on the floor remains one of the most memorable NBA moments.