Saturday, December 19th, 2009 at 8:00 am  |  15 responses

Decade’s Most: Memorable Shot

by Aaron Kaplowitz

It was a shot that meant everything in a game that meant nothing.

Trailing the Western Conference All Stars by two points with under ten seconds of overtime remaining in the 2003 All-Star Game, Jason Kidd delivered the basketball to Michael Jordan on the right wing, and like everyone else on the court, stood around and watched the master go to work. Jordan, having just turned 40 years old and playing in his final all star game, was given the opportunity to deliver a parting buzzer beater on the grand stage.

In a scene that we had witnessed on so many unappreciated occasions, Jordan caught the ball and, with his unmatchable determination, commenced his final soliloquy that would pave the way to a stage exit.

Guarded by Shawn Marion, a most unpopular task, Jordan feigned a backdown dribble with his left hand, and quickly – although less quickly than in year’s past – spun to his right and took one dribble toward the baseline. He composed himself, squaring his body to the basket, and elevated for an astonishingly difficult fadeaway over the sinewy six-foot-seven Marion. Falling back, with his right leg kicked forward, Jordan lofted a high-arcing shot over Marion’s outstretched arm, sending the ball on a 1.5-second flight high over the rim before it impossibly splashed through the net.

So fitting. The greatest basketball player of all-time would leave his final mark against the best of the next generation. Steven Spielberg couldn’t have directed it more poignantly, but, this script was Shakespearean, wrought with irony and tragedy. Instead of hitting the game-winng shot, Jordan watched helplessly as Jermaine O’Neal fouled Kobe Bryant on a last-second three. The 24-year-old would hit two of three free throws, enough to tie the game and solidfy his role as the heir apparent.

It’s fun to romanticize about Jordan’s final stint in the Wizards uniform that clashed so drastically with his likeness. Who can forget the block on Ron Mercer? Or how he managed to reinvent himself as a small forward? His 43-point game against the Nets…And of course, his final All Star game…

But there’s always that pang of doubt about MJ’s decision to come out of retirement for a second time as a Wizard. Who could have asked for a more perfect final act than The Shot over Byron Russell? Of course, the answer to that is Michael Jordan. And of course, things don’t always work out like they do in the movies.

But for those 1.5 seconds, we got one more chance to experience that knowing feeling that the greatest ever was going to do it again. Granted, the shot was a production of sorts with everybody knowing and accepting that Jordan would get the ball. That, however, doesn’t detract from the sheer wonder of the shot, it only enhances it.

For the game Jordan shot an UnJordanlike 9-27 from the floor, as he struggled to keep up with the athleticism and length of those stars enjoying their prime. But he was able to hang with them and restore his pride with the unforgettable shot over Marion.

For those who grew up on Jordan, this was a final bittersweet display of an aging genius holding onto his unwavering determination. One person can only get so many storybook endings, but reminding a transfixed generation of fans that he can still capitalize in the clutch was an epilogue for the ages.


For more Decade Awards, check out the archive.

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  • http://nicekicks.com MeloMan2.0

    AGREE AGREE AGREE… watching that shot still gices me chills….i had a feeling t it would be Horry, or Dfish… but i’ve definetly had Enough of the Lakers this decade..

  • http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3445/3357407353_c868c2d95c.jpg larrylegend

    mhn, jordan vs. horry in the nba finals…too bad, that this never happend.

  • Michael Scorn

    Kobe is probobly the only player in NBA history that could have spoiled Jordan’s momnet. No one else would have been able to draw a foul 25 feet from the basket, falling out of bounds, with 1 second left. He is amazing. And remember, that was Jordan’s second try at the game winner. The first one in regulation got blocked.

  • http://www.another48minutes.com Gerard Himself


  • Michael Scorn

    Thank you Gerard

  • Josh

    I’m leaning more towards D-Fish’s .4

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    marion didnt defend him as hard as he could have. 9-27? wtf in an allstar game? wow, mike. maybe pass a lil. id go with horry’s dunk on rip in ot of game 5 of 50 finals. or the game winner.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    05 finals

  • http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3445/3357407353_c868c2d95c.jpg larrylegend

    i like tarzan!

  • Pic

    pretty irrelevant shot imo

  • MikeC.

    @Josh – I second your motion. Fish’s 0.4 was an amazing shot, and it followed what seemed to be another amazing shot by Timmy D. that seemed to have sealed the win for the Spurs. Clutcherific, in the playoffs, for the win. That has to be the best. But these are opinions, everybody has one, and we’re all having fun talking about our favourite plays.

  • http://dyalekt.blogspot.com d.Y.

    No. With this and the loser one, it looks like you’re trying too hard to not be predictable. This makes no sense. I remember nothing about this shot. booooooo.

  • chintao

    Jordan’s an idiot. Stay retired, dummy.

  • http://nicekicks.com MeloMan2.0

    i never seen so much Mj hate in my life… @Michael Scorn: Are u nuts?? ANYONE could have drawn that foul!.. its just that Kobe had he ball at he time… almost every wing player in the league can do that… it was just a dumb foul by JO

  • http://myspace.com/mcnarrative Kieran

    co sign Melo that was JO’s sheer stupidity that led to that foul.