O.J. On the Run
20 years ago, on June 17, 1994, ninety-five million people watched dozens of police cars and helicopters in a low-speed pursuit of a white Ford Bronco SUV down the Los Angeles expressways. Al Cowlings was the driver, and hiding in the backseat of the Bronco was NFL legend Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson. Nicknamed “The Juice” for his orange juice commercials, it was a moment that shocked America. Everything moved in slow motion.
Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals
What I remembered vividly about that day was I sat in the living room of my Harlem apartment watching Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals. Suddenly, the TV fixated on police cars chasing a white Ford Bronco. I thought the TV station was experiencing technical difficulties. I never witnessed anything like it before. The distractions of the Bronco chase frustrated me because I wanted to watch basketball action happening at Madison Square Garden. I thought it was going to be the year that New York Knicks coach Pat Riley and star player Patrick Ewing were going to lead the NY Knicks to their third championship in 21 years.
As I continued watching, I learned that OJ Simpson was the passenger in the white Ford Bronco SUV. According to reporters, he threatened to kill himself after becoming the main suspect of the murders of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. I knew O.J. Simpson was a former football player that played for the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers. He was also an actor with a memorable role in the television mini-series Roots and The Naked Gun trilogy.
The Chase Ends
It was scary watching the Bronco Chase unfold. Like many people, I thought I was going to hear the tragic news that one of the most famous and celebrated athletes in the world was going to commit suicide rather than turn himself over to the authorities for double murder. This real-life drama caught the attention of everyone. Our eyes stayed glued to the TV wondering what was going to happen next.
When Al Cowlings pulled into O.J. Simpson’s driveway, police were waiting. Still holed up in the white Bronco was O.J. Simpson holding a handgun. Police did not approach the Bronco because they wanted to avoid a potentially violent end. Finally, two hours later, Simpson emerged from the Bronco. Clutching family photos, he staggered out of his car and collapsed into officers’ arms.
Thankfully, the Bronco Chase did not end violently. The Knicks won Game 5 with the score of 91–84 to take a 3-2 lead in the 1994 NBA Finals. That Friday night was one of the most historic moments in American history. I’ll never forget that day.
By Shamarie, 16th June 2014