Loughran: Nothing beats buzzer-beaters (Feb. 14)
Kit Loughran | Thursday, February 13, 2014
No matter what teams are playing or who makes the actual shot, the buzzer-beater is arguably the most exciting play in sports. The pure awe and surprise prompted by a buzzer-beating shot make it a moment like no other.
With just seconds left on the clock, watching the ball leave the fingertips of the shooter and travel through the air makes breath stop and hearts skip a beat in anticipation of the swoosh of the net.
It be at the end of the game, for the win, to send the game to overtime. Or, it might be even just the end of the quarter. The buzzer-beater never fails to make that temporary moment feel like hours. And the reaction after the ball goes through the hoop — priceless.
The buzzer beater didn’t fail to work its magic Wednesday night in the Syracuse-Pittsburgh game. Freshman guard Tyler Ennis nailed a three-pointer just as time expired to win the game for the Big Orange. Syracuse found itself down by one point with 4.4 seconds to go in the game. Ennis took the rebound pass, and with a split second to decide whether to pass or shoot, decided to shoot. The 35-foot basket kept Syracuse unbeaten on the season with a 58-56 win over Pitt. Wow.
Even if you’re a Pitt fan, you can’t deny how remarkable that buzzer beater shot was. Syracuse’s 10-2 run leading up to it, the comeback, the clock running down. The intensity made that shot at the buzzer that much better. As the Syracuse team cleared the bench in its opponent’s home court, there was no denying the magic in that moment.
Whether it’s the NBA Playoffs, the Big Dance, or even a high school game, it’s amazing that a single play can have such an effect on people. And these incredible shots aren’t just forgotten. No, they’re talked about for days, years — even decades to come.
One of the most memorable: Christian Laettner’s buzzer beater that got Duke past Kentucky to make it to the 1992 Final Four. It’s overtime with 2.1 seconds left on the clock, Kentucky up 103-102. The odds of Duke getting the ball downcourt and into the basket in that amount of time? Not high. And yet, Hill gets the ball down court to Laettner at the foul line. He turns, dribbles, fakes right, spins, and shoots. Swish. And that’s the ballgame, ladies and gentlemen.
All of a sudden — the joy, awe, disbelief, and horror of the fans in the arena overwhelms the court. Laettner, with arms up, races to middle of the court, the members of the Duke bench are off their feet. The arena was in uproar — and all over a single shot.
It really doesn’t matter if it’s top-ranked Duke vs. Kentucky, the team’s rookie, or even Michael Jordan — a buzzer-beater is a buzzer-beater. The awe and disbelief, the crowd’s reaction, the players’ tears of joy and pain — they’re all the same. A buzzer-beater makes the game just that much more exciting.
Contact Kit Loughran at firstname.lastname@example.org