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).