Taking It Back: 1999's Epic Duel Between Elton Brand and Ron Artest In The Garden

Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

The year was 1999. It was a time Juvenile became a folk hero as he predicted Cash Money Records would be Takin’ Ova for the 99’s and 2000’s. Jay-Z gave us advice we didn’t know we needed as he rapped about Waffle House being the go-to meal after the club. That said, we were nearing the end of arguably one of the golden eras of college basketball.

One thing in sports, we never forget classic games or classic moments.

One of the most unforgettable games from that season happened at the Mecca—Madison Square Garden. It featured the Duke Blue Devils and the St. John’s Red Storm. Duke went on to defeat the Red Storm in dramatic fashion, and there was a bevy of talent on the floor.

The game highlighted two AAU teammates, Ron Artest, and Elton Brand as they starred for St. John's and Duke respectively. Both native New Yorkers were stars at the collegiate level and they carried that claim into the NBA.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been twenty years since this game.

Here are a few things that stood out on that day.

  • For a moment, Bootsy Thornton was the best player in the arena with at least eight future NBA players that night.
  • The Jordan Brand St. John’s basketball jersey was as elite as a jersey one could ever wear. I’m sure if New York-bred rapper Fabolous was relevant at the time, he’d be donning a Red Storm jersey with Jordan’s to match.
  • Mike Jarvis was the man for a brief period. If he had the success he had in today’s era, he’d probably have an endorsement deal with a beard butter company (just kidding). In his first two years as the Head Coach, he led his team to 53 wins, which included one Elite Eight Appearance.
  • Erik Barkley and Lavor Postell were vastly underrated. Barkley was one of the nicest point guards in his era. Though he only played two years, he helped put St. John’s hoops back on the map. Postell was an undersized wing that could score and play defense. Both had brief stints in the NBA.
  • After re-watching this game, it was clear that Elton Brand was in a different pantheon than his counterparts. His feathery touch around the hoop coupled with his rebounding skills and underrated basketball IQ made him a match-up nightmare. It was evident why he was named the consensus National Player of the Year.
  • Ron Artest had a knack for making big plays. The then super sophomore had a huge game as he tallied 22 points and 5 steals, but he hit the three-point shot that put the game into overtime and he had the steal as time expired. The sad part is that those feats will always be overlooked due to the outcome of the game.
  • Trajan Langdon gets lost in the shuffle as a Duke legend. Maybe it’s because of the insane amount of talent that has walked through the Cameron Indoor the past fifteen or so, but Langdon doesn’t attain the respect that he deserves.
  • Corey Maggette was a grown man at age 18. Magette was a role player on this veteran-laden Duke team, but he played a huge role as the 6th man. Fun fact: Maggette was the first one-and-done player in Duke history setting up a long line of players like Luol Deng, Brandon Ingram, Jabari Parker, Justise Winslow, Jayson Tatum, and Kyrie Irving that has transformed Duke to the premier place to be a one-and-done.
  • The Duke Brotherhood is real. If you look at that game, now assistant coaches Nate James and Chris Carrawell played intricate roles on that 1999 team. Other universities preach unity when talking about life after basketball, but Duke lives it. Kudos to Coach K for that.

What was your favorite moment from Duke vs. St. John's? Let us know in the comments section!

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