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On This Day in 2004: Tayshaun Prince blocked Reggie Miller

Zack Geogheganby:Zack Geoghegan05/24/23

ZGeogheganKSR

Tayshaun Prince is one of the all-time greatest players to ever come through the Kentucky men’s basketball program. He’s also one of the most important players to ever suit up for the Detroit Pistons, which he proved 19 years ago to the day.

On May 24, 2004, Prince and the Pistons went up against the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Detroit was coming off a tiresome seven-game series victory over the Brooklyn Nets in the round prior, coming back from a 3-2 deficit to advance in the bracket. The Pacers, led by eventual Hall of Fame shooting guard Reggie Miller, had already taken Game 1 of the ECF and were looking for a commanding 2-0 lead over the Pistons.

With under 20 seconds left in Game 2, Miller, who finished the night with 21 points and six rebounds, had what looked to be a wide-open chance at a game-tying layup on a fastbreak. But Prince had other plans, chasing down Miller with blinding speed and using his gigantic left mitt to swat Miller’s clean look off the backboard before diving into the crowd. Prince managed to keep the ball in bounds as the Pistons recovered and went on to win not only the game, but also the entire series and eventually the NBA Finals over Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

When Miller first received the ball on the fastbreak, he was several steps ahead of Prince, who was only a few feet over the halfcourt line at the time. But Prince, who boasted a 7-foot-2 wingspan, timed his jump perfectly to record what many believe to be the greatest block in NBA history outside of LeBron James’ chase-down of Andre Iguodala in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals.

Nearly 20 years later, it still doesn’t seem possible that Prince was able to pull this off. He finished that game with just five points and five rebounds, but the last of his four blocks etched his name into Pistons’ lore forever. This was just his second year in the NBA too. Prince was a fresh 24 years old when he executed this historic chase-down block. He then went on to defend Bryant with much success in the NBA Finals.

Aside from Prince’s insane rejection, there’s so much more about this clip that doesn’t seem real. For starters, the score being 69-67 in the closing moments is something you might see at halftime in today’s NBA.

In fact, throughout that six-game series, neither team managed to record more than 90 points in a single outing. The most scored was 85 by the Pistons in a Game 3 win. During that entire NBA Finals run for Detroit, they only broke 100 points on four separate occasions across 23 games, one of which came in a triple-overtime contest. For reference, this season’s Denver Nuggets, which just advanced to the NBA Finals, have scored at least 108 points in all 15 playoff games except for one.

The times have certainly changed.

The Pistons would go on to make another NBA Finals appearance in 2005 but ultimately lost to the San Antonio Spurs in seven games. After a successful four-year career at Kentucky that saw him win SEC Player of the Year in 2001, Prince went on to have a long and fruitful NBA run. The Compton, CA, native played 14 seasons in the league, 12 of them in Detroit, making four All-Defensive Teams along the way while playing over 1,000 career games. Now 43 years old, he works in the Memphis Grizzlies front office.

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2024-05-29