(1) Last-second layup in Game 2 of the Finals (2011)
This probably isn't too ancient a recounting just yet, but if you'll allow me to set the stage a little: Miami -- the most anticipated team maybe in sports history -- had just completed their rampage of the Eastern Conference, winning all three playoff series 4-1. In Game 1 of the Finals, LeBron James made four of five three-pointers, and Miami won convincingly 92-84. They had now won 13 of their 16 playoff games.
After essentially playing each other to a standstill through three quarters of Game 2, Miami began to pull away in the fourth quarter. A Dwayne Wade three and pose put Miami up 88-73 and that score remained until almost exactly six and a half minutes left.
I don't care how optimistic you are. At this point in time, it looked pretty bad. The clock was striking midnight on the Dallas' unbelievable postseason run. Dirk Nowitzki's shot at erasing the only black mark on his otherwise amazing career was drifting away. For the Mavericks' fans, exorcising the demons of 2006 was looking like less and less of a possibility.
Then that indescribably great comeback happened, which was fantastic in its own right but especially memorable because it served as the prelude to the final 24 seconds, when Jason Kidd handed off the ball to Dirk Nowitzki above the right elbow. Nowitzki used a spin move and hesitation dribble to beat Chris Bosh to the basket for a left-handed layup that changed the course of Maverick team history. I know I can still remember where I was when this moment happened. Can you?
- Alan Smithee (@SmitheeMMB)
(9) Crazy bank shot to beat Orlando (2012)
I remember a lot of things about this shot. I remember Dirk raining hellfire on anyone who dared to defend him. I remember Delonte West hitting huge baskets in the fourth quarter. I remember being annoyed that Dirk took the shot so soon, and then elated when it went in. And then totally baffled on how he even managed to hit it once the replays showed.
I remember that with about a minute left, Hedo Turkoglu drove for the dunk and Ian Mahinmi met him at the apex and earned a ridiculous, ridiculous block. Delonte West collected the ball and was fouled. If Hedo scores there, the game changes entirely. Instead, Hedo can only shrug his shoulders, and probably has never jumped that high since.
Dirk routinely hits shots that would be described as having a "high degree of difficulty," but this shot is something else. I would love to give it to a physics class at my university and let them figure out how hard it is to do that. Dirk isn't even facing the basket when he starts to pull up for this shot, and Hedo has to be pleased with his defense, at least for a moment.
But then the shot drops, and for the umpteenth time, we're asking ourselves, "How did you do that, Dirk?"
- Tim Cato (@tim_cato)