Heading into the 2013 NBA Finals the topic of discussion centered around the ages of the veteran-laden San Antonio Spurs. After Game 1, all the talk was about Tony Parker’s unbelievable shot for the ages.
With the Spurs ahead 90-88 with under 30 seconds left, Parker drove to his right and nearly lost the ball as he drove past LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. When he turned the corner he stumbled and nearly lost the ball again when he fell to the ground, but somehow maintained his dribble. Knowing the shot clock was winding down, Parker got up, pivoted around LeBron, released a shot just before the 24-second shot clock expired, and banked home the game-clinching basket.
“It was a crazy play,’’ said Parker, who finished with a game-high 21 points in Game 1. “I thought I lost the ball like three or four times. At the end, I just wanted to get a shot up.”
Parker’s crazy play was reminiscent of a shot most Heat fans would love to forget. On May 16, 1999, New York Knicks guard Allan Houston ripped the hearts of Miami fans when his short jumper bounced off the front of the rim and bounced back in. Houston’s miraculous shot in Game 5 not only bounced the top-seeded Heat out of the playoffs but it ignited an unlikely playoff run for the hated Knicks all the way to the NBA Finals.
Parker’s buzzer-beater may not have eliminated the Heat in The Finals, but it was one of those signature moments that could alter an entire series. It also overshadowed a triple-double by LeBron (18 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists), who had an up-close look at the improbable shot and was inches away from blocking it.
“Tony did everything wrong and did everything right in the same possession,’’ James said. “He stumbled two or three times, and he fell over. When he fell over, I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to tie it up.’ Then he got up, and I was on him, and he doubled pumped. That was the longest 24 seconds that I’ve been a part of.”
If Parker tried it again, he would more than likely miss it.
The Spurs went into South Beach looking to gain a split, and they pulled it off on their first try. Now all the pressure shifts to the Heat to even the series in Game 2 and avoid losing two in a row in their home building.
”Tony’s shot is one of those things that happens sometimes,” Manu Ginobili said. ”We got lucky today.”
But divine intervention had little to do with the outcome of the game. The Spurs put themselves in a better position to win than the Heat because they were more efficient on offense and had just four turnovers the whole game (Parker had no turnovers).
”The Spurs are the Spurs,” James said. ”They’re going to put you in positions where you feel uncomfortable offensively and defensively, and every time you make a mistake, they’re going to capitalize on it.”