On Saturday night, the Washington Wizards beat the Atlanta Hawks to take a 2 to 1 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Paul Pierce, who is already a legend, became even more of one with a buzzer beater to end the game and hand the Wizards the victory.
The shot Pierce took was about a twelve footer from the left side of the free throw line that banked off the glass as time expired. Most people familiar with game would immediately recognize that the angle from which the shot was taken is not one that is conducive to a purposeful bank shot. It's not that you can't make a shot off the backboard, or bank it, from that angle, it's just that it's not ideal under the circumstances. That's a shot to be used in a leisurely game of H-O-R-S-E with your friends, not as time is winding down in a pivotal game three of an NBA playoff series.
That notion wasn't lost on Chris Broussard, who fancies himself a hip sideline reporter, as he asked Pierce during an immediate post game interview if he "called 'bank' on the shot". Pierce's responded with a quote for the ages when he said, "I called game, game!" What he didn't say to Broussard but might have been thinking was this, "Yeah, you can call it luck if you want to Chris. But the fact is coach drew up a play to get me the ball. I wanted to take the shot, I took the shot, and I made the shot I don't care that I didn't swish it. Hell, even in this age of advanced statistics they don't have a 'pretty shot' stat. So again, you can call it luck if you want and seem like an informed reporter when you file your story, but I call it a made shot and a win. And the playoffs are about wins, not shot types. Try to keep up Chris."
I suspect that anyone watching who has played the game had an immediate and visceral appreciation for what Pierce actually said and for fact that he had the presence of mind to say it. It was the most perfectly timed, simply stated, and forcefully delivered four word sentence I think I've ever heard.
And I only speak of it here because his words were the second time this week that I've observed something said so powerfully with so few words. Oddly enough, the first observation was basketball related as well and it came out of a twitter conversation from a few weeks ago, that I only stumbled across this week, from a long time Division 1 college basketball coach named George Raveling. I'll save Coach Raveling's full story for another time as it is worthy of lots of attention and consideration. For now I want to focus on the tweet he put out in response to a very serious question. Here's the question posed to Coach Raveling in an online Q/A session he calls #AskRav:
Now for Coach Raveling's response:
Paul Pierce has Coach Raveling beat if you measure by word count. But in my opinion, Coach Raveling's words were no less timely, simple, and forceful. What he didn't say but might have been thinking was, "Yeah, you can send him to one of the powerhouse basketball schools if you'd like, Chris. There are a few that come immediately to mind, but you don't need me to rattle off that list for you. You also don't need me to tell you that one day your five star son is not going to be playing basketball anywhere, even if he is one of the lucky few that makes it to the NBA. Then what will he be prepared to do? But since he's a five star recruit and since even the most elite academic schools in our country, which happen to be the most elite in the world, have basketball teams too, I bet the Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford teams know all about your son and would be thrilled to have him. And I bet that your son, if he graduated, would go on to have a very productive and rewarding life with or without basketball in it. So I think the best advice you can give him is to place a high value on getting the best possible education at the least possible cost, not where to play basketball. Lucky for you, it sounds like he's gotten himself in position to take full advantage of that advice so try to keep up Chris."
I could be wrong about what ol' coach Raveling was thinking, but I doubt it.
Stay tuned though, maybe I'll ask him about it and report back.