I’ve been on YouTube since its birth and I’ve picked up on more than a few of the site’s most obscure, bizarre videos. Today we dig into the cellar to examine an inexplicably strange basketball highlight video.
From a cursory search on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, it appears that HoopChina.com started in 2003, shortly after the Houston Rockets drafted Yao Ming with the Number 1 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. Currently, the HoopChina name and branding is gone, as the URL redirects to the NBA vertical for HUPU, a Chinese sports media site that seems to be similar to a Bleacher Report or SB Nation in American terms.
At some point, HoopChina.com hosted a watermarked recording of a SportsCenter Top Ten segment from the episode taped on March 30th, 2006 covering the greatest plays of former Indiana Pacers shooting guard Reggie Miller. On October 22nd of 2006, that video was uploaded by user kphaitao to a fledgling young video streaming site by the name of YouTube.
Reggie.Miller.Top10.Moments is a truly bizarre experience if you don’t know what’s coming. It starts normally, with the familiar cadence of SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy listing off Miller’s best highlights. A 52-point outing against the Charlotte Hornets. A clutch shot against Detroit in Game 3 of the 2005 Eastern Semis.
And then, number eight. A clip from Game 3 of the 2000 NBA Finals. Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana. Reggie drives baseline and steps back and elevates for a jump shot over Brian Shaw. As the ball leaves his hands, as Levy announces that it was Miller’s only trip to the finals… his voice… just drops.
Levy undergoes what sounds like a second-stage puberty over the course of moment number eight. By the time he discusses Miller’s 41 points against the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2000 playoffs, he’s dropped from the affable voice of a long-tenured sports anchor into the register of the devil that eighties suburban moms swore you’d hear if you played a Stryper album backwards.
It continues through number six, Miller’s 38 points in Madison Square Garden during the 1998 playoffs. Levy drops a guttural “Oh Yeah” befitting a Kool-Aid man full of lean at the mere thought of the event. Even Mike Breen isn’t safe when the clip cuts to his calling a late dagger three.
It’s during moment number five, as Miller torches the Knicks in the Garden with 17 points in the fourth quarter of game six of the 2000 Eastern Finals, that things return to normalcy. Levy’s brief dip into Satany comes to a close as soon as he mentions Spike Lee.
Slick Watts is spared the vocal dip during moment four. Moments three, two, and one continue as expected. He hits the game winner against the Bulls in the 1998 Eastern finals, he scores eight points in 9 seconds against the Knicks in the 1995 Eastern Semifinals, and he scores 25 in the fourth quarter in the 1994 Eastern Finals, all while jawing with Spike Lee. The video comes to a close with a watermark, fading out right as Miller would make the famous ‘choke’ sign at Lee, immortalized in the above image.
The experience of watching the video is one thing. I used to show this video to friends without giving context, and they’d think I was just, like, showing them a clip of some basketball highlights for some reason until the 25th second, as Levy’s voice drops and they’d understand.
The most bizarre thing about Reggie.Miller.Top10.Moments is not limited to the video. This video as of writing has gathered 2,065,682 views over the course of fourteen years. That number is larger than the population of the Indianapolis-Carmel, Indiana metropolitan area that Miller called home for so many years by about a half million people.
And yet, looking through the comments at one point gave you virtually no indication that anything was wrong with the video. The comments from years past are full of praise and support, congratulations even as if Reggie’s ever going to click on this video. There are references to Levy’s voice dropping, but they’re vastly outweighed by people discussing the video as if we hadn’t just experienced an inexplicable chop-and-screwing of an NBA Highlights package.
Outside of the question of how precisely the video ended up this way in the transfer between ESPN, HoopChina.com, and YouTube, the comments are the most affecting aspect of Reggie.Miller.Top10.Moments. I remember the first time that I saw this video scrolling down, expecting to see people reacting the way I was reacting, and not seeing it almost at all. It had me wondering for a while if I was the only person experiencing this video like this, if everybody else’s version of this video was fine and somehow it was just my understanding of time and audio shifting every time that I clicked on the video. That’s part of the reason why I’m writing this post, I just want to make sure I’m not alone.
How many other videos from October 2006 do I remember this specifically? How much of the year 2006 do I remember this specifically? Looking back, October 22nd, 2006 was a banner day for YouTube uploads. Someone uploaded the video for Presidents of the United States of America’s Peaches. The band Mastodon put a significant amount of their catalog on YouTube that day. Clips from Friends, MadTV, and Sex and the City were uploaded, and somehow have avoided the deadly copyright takedown over the 14 years. This bleak monologue from writer Timothy Furstnau was uploaded.
But none of these have haunted me the way that Reggie.Miller.Top10.Moments has, and I just needed to pass this video on to the public in order to find peace.