Harris’ Walk-Off Dunk Is A Keeper

VIDEO: Tobias Harris dunks to defeat the Thunder as time expires

As long as they keep putting air into basketballs and taking time off the clock there will be buzzer-beaters.

Nothing tops the gasp of the crowd, the jaw-dropping shock on the faces of the victims, the unexpected thrill of the moment.

There have been so many memorable ones down through the years, but very few like Friday night when the Magic beat the Thunder at the buzzer with a slam dunk.

It began with rookie Victor Oladipo making a defensive play and tipping a loose ball to gain control.  He passed it to Mo Harkless for what looked like a layup.  But Harkless instead turned and fed to a charging Tobias Harris who stuffed it home with 0.1 seconds ticking off the clock.

The game has given us plenty of last-second heaves and prayers and maybe even blind tosses. But this was the basketball equivalent of Kirk Gibson’s homer with two out in the bottom of the ninth — a walk-off slam dunk. A rarity, indeed.

Here’s a look at some of the other famous buzzer-beaters down through the years.  But as far as we’re concerned, only Lorenzo Charles’ dunk to win the 1983 NCAA championship for North Carolina State beats Harris for a resounding, rim-rattling finish:

1970 — NBA Finals Game 3Jerry West takes the inbounds pass from Wilt Chamberlain, one dribble and lets fly with a 60-foot heave that ties the Knicks at the end of regulation time and the Lakers go on to win Game 3.  The Lakers win in overtime 111-108, but lose the series 4-3.

1976 — NBA Finals Game 5 — After John Havlicek gives the Celtics a two-point lead with one second left in the second overtime, Garfield Heard catches the inbounds pass at the top of the key, turns and buries the jumper.  The Suns eventually lose in 3 OTs and lose the series 4-2.

1983 — NCAA Championship Game — Dereck Whittenburg heaves up the most famous air ball in history, Akeem Olajuwon leaves his defensive post, Lorenzo Charles catches the ball and slams it home to give North Carolina State a 54-52 win over Houston in one of the greatest upsets in tournament history and sends Jimmy V dancing across the floor in Albuquerque.

 1989 — NBA playoffs, first round, Game 5 — The Shot.  It’s where so much of the legend began.  Michael Jordan gets the inbounds pass, lifts up like a rocket off the launch pad and buries the jumper over the Cavs’ Craig Ehlo for a 101-100 win to close out Game 5 of the first round playoff series for the Bulls.

1992 — NCAA Tournament East Region Finals — Grant Hill lines up on the far baseline and throws a perfect strike on his length of the court pass to Christian Laettner in the key.  He turns and fires to give Duke a 103-102 win in what has been described as the greatest college basketball game ever.  Duke goes on to win the national title.

 2002 — NBA Western Conference finals, Game 4 — The Lakers were trailing 2-1 in the series and down 99-97 when Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant both missed layups.  But the rebound came bouncing straight out to Robert Horry beyond the top of the key and Big Shot Bob calmly pick it up and nailed the 3-pointer for the win. The Lakers won the series 4-3 and beat the Nets in The Finals for their third straight title.

2004 — NBA Western Conference Semi-finals, Game 5 — Down 73-72 with just 0.4 seconds showing on the clock in San Antonio, Derek Fisher gets the feed on the run from Gary Payton, turns and fires in the kill shot to sink the Spurs on their home floor. The Lakers go on to win the series 4-2, but were beaten by the Pistons 4-1 in The Finals.


  1. Messed up says:

    I can honestly say I know my history.
    Eat this, Fran. 🙂

  2. Messed up says:

    Didn’t the Lakers loose the game in OT after Jerry West made that legendary shot?
    I seem to recall a storyline on nba.com quoting him on saying how terrible it was to let such a beautiful shot go to waste….
    Maybe in my own imagination…. 🙂

  3. bf3legend says:

    C’mon KD play defense u could of caught up with that fast break you could of got the block or the foul if u want to get the mvp or championship show a little more effort don’t just stare from half-court this is why lebron is ranked higher than you but your only 26 still time to improve

    • OKC says:

      But Lebron isn’t ranked higher…. in any way. KD is considered first in line in the mvp race, he is the top ranked fantasy player, and his team has higher seed than LBJ’s. Lebron fanboys are about to be the new Kobe fanboys.

  4. okc2014 says:

    I am not surprised he got away with that dunk, and nobody chased him down the court (well, actually 2 OKC players were right there). I watched (like I always do) that entire game. Orlando Magic was allowed to win that game beginning from the 1st period. I guess even the best teams have bad days and that was certainly one. But, it was a good win for the Magic and to be quite honest, it was refreshing to see a team like THAT be so happy to have beat OKC. I saw a similar reaction with the Wizards, who I do like. It’s only temporary people. This is where Russell Westbrook is missed. Do you think he could have made that sort of fast break w/ Russell on the floor? NOT EVER GONNA HAPPEN! OKC2014.

  5. Bird33 says:

    Too bad the Raptors clip had Devlin and Jack as the announcers. They’re working on becoming a better team and they’re making progress. But they can’t seem to realize they also need to upgrade their announcers. Real basketball fans just can’t stand listening to them. If I want to hear about hockey, I’ll turn to the hockey game. If I want to hear someone say “Airrrr ball” after a Raptor bricks a shot, I can tune into the visitor broadcast. Yes – that’s right – they are not even good “homers” – often praising the other team, saying how good the other players are and then they use terms like Air Ball when the Raps miss.

    Would someone at MLSE with some knowledge of basketball please review your game tapes. You have the only team in the entire country. They are really coming together / improving. You have a prime opportunity to expand your fan base. You won’t maximize this opportunity until you get rid of your announcing team. (Leo and Rod aren’t too bad)

    Driiiiiiiiving…..Reeeeeaching…. for my remote to turn the channel so I don’t have to hear those two talking about “taking a steam” or whatever else they did the night before.

    I’m outta here.

  6. Monek says:

    Nice defense KD

  7. wew says:

    how about lebron’s buzzer beaters? haha, joke. i haven’t yet seen lbj had buzzer beater in the play-offs

  8. coombsart says:

    What about John Stockton’s buzzer beater that sent the Jazz to the finals? That surely is worthy of mention here.

  9. NBAFan says:

    Where’s Ray Allen’s three pointer last year against the Spurs?

  10. JM says:

    that is just clutch and power at the same time…. good play…. oh that is a great play…. dunks as game winners are rare

  11. thingnamer says:

    The Lakers LOST game 3 of the 1970 Finals after West’s 63 foot jumper at the buzzer forced overtime, dammit.

  12. Josh says:

    How about Dwight Howard’s alley oop dunk win over the Spurs in ’07?

  13. KD Watching says:

    I’m wondering why KD didn’t even sprint back for defense. He just watched after missing that jump shot..

  14. Big Euro says:

    Most of those are playoff BBs so of course they are more memorable. However Fran, the best in-game buzzer-beater dunk was by Vince Carter for the Nets against the Raptors. A reverse-dunk alley-oop, at an away game that completely suffocated the Raptor fans.

    • Kalbo!! says:

      OMG! Are you ok man? This is not even literally a buzzer-beater. about 2 seconds left in the game clock. Do you even read before you comment? I’m not saying your stupid but you look a hell like one with your uneducated comment.

  15. soyouu514 says:

    ANOTHER REASON WHY KD should win MVP over Lebron.
    HE was absolutely great defense on that last play, starring at his teammates and never cross the half-court.

    Lebron would have NEVER GAVE UP on that play. He would at least try to chase it down.


  16. Chris says:

    I only caught the end of that game, but so glad I got to see that dunk. The “WTF just happened?” look on the OKC players’ faces was priceless.

  17. Docsteely says:

    Jerry West made that play in 1970, not in 1960. Wilt wasn’t a Laker in 1960.

  18. NBA2K says:

    It would’ve been a good lesson learned had the decision to dunk instead of lay it up cost them the game (and I hope he was at least reminded after the game of how costly that decision could have been). But as it stands, I watched it live, and it was enthralling to have seen (and it doesn’t hurt that I’m a Magic fan). One of the, if not the, most exciting moments I’ve witnessed since becoming an NBA fan.

  19. mee(a)t says:

    that must have hurt

  20. CLD says:


    • derpderp says:

      I think you mean “fourpeat” :s

    • To CLD,
      If you are looking for an actual answer the lakers lost to san antonio in the second round of their fourpeat. The parker and duncan pick and roll was the major reason. The year after, the lakers upgraded at the pf and pg positions defensively with karl malone and gary payton and got revenge on the spurs eliminating them in the second round! Didnt matter though as the lakers lost to the pistons in the nba finals that year. Been reading phil jackson’s the last season good read this is how i got the scoop! Hope that shed some light to the why didnt the lakers quadrapeat or fourpeat.

  21. CheezDoodle says:

    If they didn’t beat the buzzer with the dunk, Harkless would’ve been to blame for not just going for the layup. Still not sure why he didn’t, would’ve at least gotten the foul if Lamb reached in time.