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Blink-And-You'll-Miss-It Moment in NBA Playoffs Is First of Its Kind Since Michael Jordan in 1989

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Few players, if any, have been more mythologized in the annals of NBA history than one Michael Jeffrey Jordan. Considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time, Jordan earned that mythic reputation with an NBA career chock full of iconic moments.

Winning six-of-six NBA Finals (with six NBA Finals MVP awards to boot) is the obvious feather in Jordan’s cap, though that’s not to downplay the numerous accolades and awards he’s won as well. And that’s to say nothing of his individual iconic moments, like the 1987 NBA Slam Dunk Contest (the free throw line dunk) or the shrug against the Portland Trailblazers in the 1992 NBA Finals.

Many consider the first of Jordan’s iconic playoff moments, and the true ascent of his dynastic Chicago Bulls, to be “The Shot” (a moment iconic enough to get its own Wikipedia entry) against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 1989 Eastern Conference Playoffs.



That game saw Jordan and his Bulls bounce the higher-seeded Cavaliers off of a buzzer-beater for the ages. For over 30 years, “The Shot” stood as the last time an NBA player sank a game-winning shot with time expiring while facing elimination and his team trailing in the game. (The Bulls trailed 100-99 before Jordan hit the jumper.)

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While that may seem like, and is, a very specific statistic, it’s noteworthy considering that such a shot is arguably the most pressure-packed in all of basketball. You and your team are literally facing elimination if this shot doesn’t fall, and with no time left on the clock, there’s no hope for a fortuitous tip-in.

Fast forward 34 years, and NBA fans finally have another shot like that — albeit one that is somehow still remarkably different than Jordan’s.

Forty-seven minutes and 59.8 seconds into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday, the Miami Heat held a 103-102 lead over the Boston Celtics. A win would’ve propelled the Heat to the NBA Finals and eliminated the Celtics.

Instead, there will be a Game 7 in Boston on Monday.

Have you watched any of the NBA Playoffs this year?

What happened in that literal split-second? Boston guard Derrick White sank a game-winning shot with time expiring while facing elimination and his team trailing.

Take a look:

ESPN also noted the historical similarity between White’s scampering tip-in and Jordan’s iconic shot:

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Obviously, the actual context of this historic shot from White will largely depend on the outcome of Monday’s game. If the Celtics complete the first 0-3 series comeback in NBA history, White’s shot will be an iconic piece of that inevitable sports documentary.

If the Heat are able to steal a win in Boston, White’s shot will be little more than a footnote.

While Jordan didn’t win a title in 1989, “The Shot” did propel his team to the next round, so White’s shot isn’t quite a one-to-one analog.

And of course, Jordan’s shot was followed by an equally iconic fist-pump. White’s shot was actually met with a lot of confusion as the moment happened so quickly. Some Heat players thought that time had expired before White got his shot off.

Regardless, with White’s historic shot forcing a Game 7, the two teams will meet on Monday, with the NBA Finals beginning just three days later in Denver.

The well-rested Nuggets have not played since May 22, after sweeping LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Birthplace
Hawaii
Education
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, Korean
Topics of Expertise
Sports, Entertainment, Science/Tech




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