He Could Have Been A HERO Of The NBA FINALS...
Many fans remember the 2009 Finals as the stage where Kobe Bryant managed to win his first title without Shaquille O’Neal. Yet, despite the Lakers’ 4-1 win against the Orlando Magic, that series was much closer than the score would lead you to believe. And to this day, one of the biggest what if moments is the play where Magic guard Courtney Lee had a chance to win Game 2 in Los Angeles, which would have tied the series.
A forgotten moment that could have changed a lot of things. Let me explain.
What up everybody my name is Stefan and this is Heat Check. Let’s get into it.
In Game 1, Kobe had torched the Magic for 40 points in a Lakers victory. However, in Game 2, Stan Van Gundy’s men came out more focused, keeping the game close all the way, mostly thanks to Rashard Lewis 34-point, 11-rebound performance.
At the end of the fourth quarter, Kobe had a chance to give his team the lead, but his shot was blocked from behind by Hedo Turkoglu. Though the buzzer had gone off, the Magic, thanks to a timeout call, were eventually given 0.6 seconds on the clock.
That meant Van Gundy would have to design the perfect play.
The Magic had had some experience with such plays. In 2007, against the Spurs, though Brian Hill was the Head Coach, Turkoglu, after a timeout, made a perfect alley-oop pass with 0.8 seconds to go. Dwight Howard connected, dunking the ball at the buzzer, giving the Magic the win.
Initially, due to good defensive movement by the Lakers, the Magic called another time-out.
For the second attempt, however, Van Gundy slightly modified the plan. What followed was a moment that all Magic fans most likely want to forget.
Lee, who was in his rookie season, thanks to a Lewis screen on Kobe, used his clear path towards the rim, jumped, got the ball mid-air, tried to bank it in, but the ball went out after touching the front side of the rim.
A couple of things simply must be taken into consideration.
First, the shot wasn’t nearly as easy as it seemed at first glance, so it’s unfair to criticise the player for missing such an attempt from a difficult angle while being contested by Pau Gasol.
Second, purists would say two things.
Number one. That Kobe Bryant actually committed a foul when he grabbed Lee’s arm as the rookie ran by Lewis’ screen to unsuccessfully slow him down. Though they may actually be right, those calls, simply put, aren’t given in the Finals. Had it been called, though, that would be an away from the play foul call. Needless to say the Magic would most likely win it-
Number two. That Pau Gasol actually should have been whistled for goaltending because his right hand grazed the net and his fingers hit the rim. Even Phil Jackson himself said that, though that might have been part of the Zen Master’s mind games to mess with Lee and the Magic. This one, too, though, by Finals standards shouldn’t have been whistled because Lee’s shot wouldn’t have gone in either way.
To add more salt to the wound of Magic, after the miss, Howard had a putback dunk but it came after the sound of the buzzer.
The visitors, though they tried to hide it, were demoralised. They put up a great fight in the overtime period as well, but, in the end, the Lakers prevailed.
Despite their bounce-back win in Game 3, the Magic suffered the backbreaker in the following match, which made it 3-1. That game is most remembered for Derek Fisher’s clutch three pointers, one of which sent the game into overtime. So Orlando once again was in a position to win, but the basketball gods simply had other plans.
A Game 5 victory in Florida saw the Lakers become champions for the first time after seven years.
That Lee miss still haunts Magic fans, mostly because it symbolises that, though Kobe was on a mission to prove that he could win the chip without Shaq, they were up there with the Lakers and could, some would even say should, have at least made it a series.
Definitely an iconic, though somewhat forgotten, Finals moment.
These forgotten moments are super fun for me to make, so let me know if you enjoy watching as much as I love making them. That’s it for now, subscribe and talk to you in the next one. Peace out.