On Thursday night, Ethan asked The Dream Shake readers to "remember where you were" when the Rockets overcame a 19-point deficit to post a double-digit victory over the L.A. Clippers. The Rockets Game 6 win causes a series defined by lopsided victories to play a defining Game 7 in Houston.
A victory would make the Houston Rockets only the second franchise in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 playoff series deficit multiple times. The Rockets last overcame such a deficit in the 1995 second round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns. The game is known as the kiss of death.
Taking Ethan's proposal to heart, here's where I was when Mario Elie blew the Suns the 'kiss of death.'
Since I've been a TDS contributor, my SB Nation profile has read as follows:
Nearly knocked over the TV after Mario Elie's "Kiss of Death." Listened to the 1994 title over the radio at summer camp. Played backroom poker against Matt Maloney. Attended this game: http://tinyurl.com/cn74kar. Raised in Houston.
It's all true. In 1994, I listened to the first title over the radio at El Rancho Cima Boy Scout summer camp. In 1995, my old man and I brought family members to the Summit when Vernon Maxwell sunk an improbable game-winning three.
One summer, my boys and I spent most of our time around 1/2 no-limit poker tables at card houses inside the Beltway and once found ourselves whispering "that's Matt Maloney." It was. He was retired. And yes, the Rockets were still paying him.
For Mario Elie's "kiss of death," I was young. Ten, to be exact. And it was the summer between fifth and sixth grade for a young suburban Houstonian. Chris Wuyts and I spent the early afternoon playing one-on-one in the driveway at his house.
These games weren't defined by ball control or spacing, they were a pre-pubescent slugfest where victory hinged on offensive putbacks and little else.
These games were defined by role playing and imagination. Imagine picking members of the Houston Rockets to emulate, like a very disappointing game of NBA Jam without dunking or turbo. One rule: No Dream. Hakeem Olajuwon was too good to select and this was an awful driveway game unfit for a fake Dream Shake. Instead we'd regularly cycle our favorite current and former players, Clyde Drexler, Sam Cassell and Robert Horry.
If it were 2015, these games would make golden YouTube fodder.
The last game went long, and we missed the first quarter of the Rockets-Suns game. Winning by two is tough when you're both throwing up hookshots while being shoved.
We mowed through bags of popcorn and sodas while joking a victory would cause us to celebrate with Franzia and dodging intermittent fits of flinging free AOL CDs at one another. Then it happened. The "kiss of death."
Kenny Smith gets trapped while bringing the ball to mid-court. He goes over the top of the double team to Robert Horry who dribbles quickly before making a cross-court pass to a wide open Mario Elie. Shot. Swish. Kiss of death.
The exuberance of this moment created an unavoidable collision course. The kiss of death sling-shotted two caffeine and adrenaline-fueled children at each other from opposite sides of the room attempting a mid-air hug. Instead of embracing in a moment of joy, they struck each other with an unexpected force propelling a limb, like shrapnel, into the TV. It fell backwards into the wall.
We bolted out of the room.
There were seven seconds left on the clock, but we didn't care. We had to evacuate the scene of the crime as soon as possible. We knew the Rockets had won.
It was straight to the driveway for a ten minute argument over who could be Mario Elie in the next game of one-on-one...
Thursday night's comeback wasn't the second coming of the "kiss of death." It was Game 6, not 7. Every Rockets fan has spent the last two days on edge, hoping the next "kiss of death" script can be stirred to life on Sunday.
Game 6 was hopefully the Rockets' Miracle On Ice, the 1980 USA victory in Olympic hockey over the Soviet Union commonly mistaken as the gold medal game, it was actually the tournament's semifinal.
Win on Sunday and Game 6 is the game we'll always remember. Lose and it may be the second coming of Aaron Brooks' 26-point performance on May 14, 2009 when a Yao-less, McGrady-less Rockets forced a Game 7 against the L.A. Lakers. They would go on to lose that series, and the Lakers would go on to win the NBA title.
Thursday's performance was an astounding comeback. But, Sunday's game will define if it as memorable.