February 8th, 2009
On February 8th, 2009, the San Antonio Spurs played one of my favorite regular season games of the past few years. The Boston Celtics were hosting the Spurs that particular Sunday afternoon. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker were all well rested; Gregg Popovich had chosen to bench all three in the previous game, a Tuesday night entanglement with the Denver Nuggets.
Promoted as a match-up between the two previous NBA champions, it did not disappoint. Each team made runs throughout the game but neither was able to gain permanent control. With under 30 seconds left to play, the Spurs down by 1, Roger Mason Jr. forwarded the ball up the court, dribbled over top of a Tim Duncan screen and pulled up for a long 3-point attempt.
I was sitting on my girlfriend’s sister’s couch as I watched the ball sail through the net. Moments before I had asked my girlfriend why she had just moved her legs, which had been draped over mine. As I erupted from the couch, startling the cat and nearly spilling my beer, she gave me a knowing look.
Although Mason’s shot may have been exciting enough to lift me from my seat, the next play was so unbelievable I sunk back down in disbelief. As Ray Allen attempted to pass the ball inbounds to Paul Pierce, Ginobili darted in front of the ball, gaining control of it and racing up court. Pierce fouled Ginobili, who had an open path to the basket, immediately.
Two shots and the ball.
Although some bold shooting by Eddie House forced the Spurs to inbound the ball under pressure and nail their remaining free throws, for all intents and purposes Ginobili’s steal ended the game.
If tonight’s contest against Boston is half as memorable, it’ll be a must-see.
I’ll be stopping by ESPN’s Daily Dime live chat this evening during the game. Join me if you get a chance.