The locker room was full of excitement champagne was spraying everywhere. The players were overcome with joy, excitement, and laughter. They had just accomplished their goal in becoming the 2004-2005 NBA champions.
The series was a grueling seven-game series one of the best in NBA history. In fact, it out did last years finals, that was deemed a classic.
In the other locker room, there was total despair. They had just lost one of the toughest, most well-played finals in history. After hoisting the Larry O’Brian the previous season this year there would be no laughter, no champagne, and no hoisting of the trophy.
For the last three seasons, the Phoenix Suns and the Orlando Magic have met in June to decide the World Championship of basketball. The two greatest players of their generation, and perhaps to ever play the game have battled each other for the title.
Those two players are Grant Hill and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Both players up to this point have had illustrious careers. Both winning championships, and every individual accolade a player could win.
Hill had won two MVPs he was 12x All-Star, 12x All-NBA, two finals MVPs, and now two championships.
Hardaway has been equally impressive being named to the All-NBA team 11x, 11x All-Star, one finals MVP, one MVP, and one championship.
Hill was now 2-1 over Hardaway in the finals. Hill won their first final matchup in six games. He was super dominant showcasing one of the most versatile skill sets the game has ever seen.
Penny came back the next season with a vengeance and something to prove. He was named league MVP, and this time he would get the best of his long term nemesis Hill winning his first championship and being named finals MVP.
Now Grant Hill was able to be victorious in third and final matchup between these two all-time greats.
This would be their last matchup, because in an unexpected turn of events, while on the podium accepting his finals MVP trophy Hill announced his retirement from the game.
He received a boisterous, deafening, resounding round of applause from the home crowd in Orlando. Just like that the career of one most versatile players to ever play the game was officially over.
After learning about Hill’s retirement during his post-game press conference. Hardaway was explaining how much Hill meant to the game and how he pushed him to become the best player he could possibly be, and the game will definitely miss him.