I fear that because it wasn’t technically a game-winning shot, history might not end up acknowledging Tony Parker’s bucket last night with 5.2 seconds to go in Game 1 of the 2013 Finals as one of the greatest shots in NBA playoff history. Make no mistake — it absolutely was. True, the Spurs were already up two with the ball, and even an offensive rebound at that point would’ve been just as deadly to the Heat as a made basket. But if he misses (with three Miami players in rebounding position), the Heat have five seconds and LeBron James to make up a two-point lead, and there’s little doubt in my mind they would have done it. Even if they were already leading, I have no issues with calling Parker’s shot a game-winner.
And holy hell, what a shot. The number of factors that added to the degree of difficulty are basically countless, but let’s see if we can count them anyway:
- The shot was taken with less than a fraction of a second remaining on the shot clock, close enough to a violation that even though he appeared to get it off on time, had it been ruled no good on the floor, it’s uncertain if that decision would have been overturned on replay.
- Even with time dwindling down, Parker had to go right, into his defender’s body, then pivot left for his leaning jumper, before just barely get the ball off underneath the jumping defender’s outstretched arm.
- That defender was LeBron James, arguably the best (and definitely the toughest) perimeter defender in the entire NBA.
- This all happened after a wildly broken play resulted in Parker dribbling manically around the right wing, at one point even losing his footing and slipping to the floor, but somehow maintaining his dribble throughout.
- It was the final seconds of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, on the opposing team’s home court. Worth mentioning.
There are probably a whole lot more minute factors that I’m missing, but those are most of the big ‘uns.
So yeah, it was an absolutely breathtaking moment in NBA Finals history, one that deserves to be anthologized and replayed to death and should undoubtedly make an appearance in next year’s pregame Finals history montage. (Hell, ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh has already pieced together an Oral History of the shot from all the postgame comments from players and coaches involved, and it might not be the last one published on the subject matter before all is said and done.) It’s enough to make your skin crawl with anticipation for Game 2 on Sunday night.
All that’s missing now for the shot it is a nickname, a catchy, easily identifiable, and preferably alliterative nom de legend for it to be forever known as. I don’t pretend to have the final answer on the matter, and really, stuff like this is often only decided over time, but I’d like to at least get the ball bouncing around the rim on the discussion. Some opening suggestions:
1. The Broken Banker
Feel like you should have some sort of allusion to the fact that the play leading up to Parker’s jumper was a complete disaster, and “Broken Banker” basically gets at that, while succinctly describing the shot and throwing in a little alliteration to boot. It doesn’t cleanly describe the shot or play for someone who doesn’t already know about it, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as opportunities to relive the play in all its gory detail should be treasured by all (assuming you weren’t rooting for the Heat for some reason).
2. The 0.1 Prayer
This might be the catchiest of the nicknames I’ve thought of — kind of rolls off the tongue, though it’s a lot less graceful in text than it is said aloud. (You could write out “The Point-One Prayer,” but that makes it sound like a history lesson in Catholicism or something.) Not perfect, since a “prayer” should be more of a three-point heave than a rushed banker, but it’s certainly identifiable. Derek Fisher might already have copyright on all decimal-named shots, though, we’ll have to check on that.
3. Up-and-Under, Around-and-In
Not all shots have to be named like The Adjective Noun, and this could be a more fun way at describing the motion of the play entire (the move Parker put on LeBron and the bounce of the jumper, respectively) than just getting at one part of it. You get a picture of the whole thing as you’re saying it, and it’s pretty fun to say, too.
4. The San Antonio Stunner (or The Sitting-Down Stunner)
“Stunner” is just about the best one-word descriptor for the shot, since it looked for all the world like Parker wasn’t going to get off anything even remotely credible within the 24-second clock, and going back further, it seemed like Miami had the game fairly well in control for a good chunk of it, even if they never managed to pull away. I’d also love to get in there somewhere that Parker was actually sitting down with just seconds to go on the shot clock, since good lord is that incredible, but I’m hesitant to fully endorse “The Sitting-Down Stunner,” because that makes it sound like the shot was actually taken from his ass. Arguably no more incredible than what actually happened, but still misleading.
5. The Globetrotter Game-Winner.
This one comes from Adrian Wojnarowski’s excellent post-game recap of the play, in which the Yahoo! writer compared Parker’s shot to Harlem Globetrotters-esque razzle-dazzle, with Parker even telling Woj that he “loved Curly Neal” as a kid growing up in France. Of course calling it this makes it sound like the Spurs actually called Curly off the bench to spot up in the corner on the final play and he drained a go-ahead three, but again, it’s OK to require a little storytelling. It’s not like the Memorial Day Miracle is all that self-explanatory either.
6. The Everything-Wrong, Everything-Right Play
Courtesy of LeBron James, who perhaps described the Spurs’ final possession better than any writer could by saying “Tony did everything wrong and did everything right in the same possession.” Too true, LeBron, too true. You wouldn’t mind if we used that, would you? It’s a little cumbersome to say, but there just might not be a nickname that gets at the heart of the play’s craziness quite like this.
It’s a start, hopefully. Let me know the far-superior stuff that you guys come up with.