Ray Allen’s corner 3-pointer in the waning seconds of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals was one of the biggest shots in the league’s storied Finals history. The Miami Heat were down by five points with barely 28 seconds to go — less than a half-minute from being eliminated by the underdog San Antonio Spurs in six games — before The Shot tied the score with 5.2 seconds left and forced the two teams into overtime, where the Heat won, 103-100. Miami finished the job two days later in a memorable Game 7 in Miami.
As the two teams prepare to square off again for the title — the 2014 NBA Finals start Thursday in San Antonio (9 p.m. ET, ABC) — we asked NBA.com’s writers to offer up their recollections of that indelible moment.
(And for a detailed look at those final, fateful 28 seconds in Game 6, check out Jeff Caplan’s blow-by-blow in the Hang Time archives.)
One thing that we seem to forget is that the Heat’s comeback from a five-point deficit was preceded by an equally thrilling comeback by the Spurs. Miami looked to be in control (up three with two minutes left), but after a couple of huge shots by Tony Parker and three straight turnovers (two that would have had LeBron James tossing and turning all summer) from the Heat, the Spurs were suddenly 30 seconds from winning the championship.
Leaving the arena that night, I was thinking about how devastated the Spurs had looked and wondered how they could ever recover, not just for Game 7, but long-term as well. They recovered just fine. They were in position to win Game 7 and have been the best team in the league over the last seven months. The determination to right what went wrong overcame the devastation and disappointment. That says a lot about Gregg Popovich and his players. — John Schuhmann, NBA.com
You know how the Miami fans took a lot of flak for leaving the arena with the Heat down five and the game looking like a sure Spurs win? There but for the faulty wireless internet service inside AmericanAirlines Arena went I.
I thought the game was over, too. We all did. And I had a flight reservation to change — for a trip home following Game 7. So as the fans streamed for the exits, I was on Delta.com trying to switch my seat and get home the next morning. And then LeBron hit the three to cut it to 2 with 20 seconds left. As Kawhi Leonard went to the free-throw line, the internet flickered and my request timed out. I took it as a sign from the basketball gods, so I closed the browser window and waited to see what would happen.
Allen’s shot happened on the opposite end of the floor from where I was sitting with John Schuhmann, and I saw it unfold like I was watching a video game — the ball tipped out to Allen, then his perfect and reflexive stepback-shot-swish. There’s no cheering at the press table, but there’s no rule against yelling in shock. I know there were some Miami fans who left early, but there were enough who stayed behind that when that shot went down, all I remember how loud it was in there, and how it felt like the mezzanine level where we were sitting began vibrating.
I’ve seen some incredible stuff at NBA games in my lifetime, but that was the greatest shot I’ve ever seen. And I’m not sure how anything will ever top it. – Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog
I just remember thinking that the Heat were finished. Done. And what a way to go out. On their home floor at the hands of the Spurs. Then Bosh grabbed that rebound and found Ray. I knew the ball was going in before he stepped back. The fact that he knew exactly where he was on the floor and that he needed to step back … it’s like he has a sixth sense of where he is on the floor in situations like that. Remarkable poise. The shot was money, I knew it before the ball left his hands. — Sekou Smith, NBA.com’s Hang Time blog
I can still see the yellow rope, laid on the floor and around the corner of the court Ray Allen would make so famous. It didn’t need to be manned and pulled taut for two more nights.
I remember uttering something like “Nooo!” or “Ohhh!” as the ball got to Allen, anticipating pretty much what we got. My first thought was, “Spurs? Done.” My hunch was, Miami would assert itself in overtime and, as far as Game 7, well, has there ever been a traumatic Game 6 experience where Game 7 swung back to the unfortunate team? Just in MLB, I’m thinking Don Denkinger‘s blown first-base call in ’85, the ball through Buckner‘s legs in ’86, the Bartman game in ’03 and so on. All those gut-wrenching turning points seemed to grab their series by the throat.
Allen’s did too.
His bucket reminded me soon enough of Robert Horry‘s 3-pointer in Game 5 of the 2005 Finals in Auburn Hills, Mich., San Antonio vs. Detroit. When Rasheed Wallace inexplicably left Horry alone on the perimeter, Big Shot Bob essentially closed out the defending-champ Pistons, giving the Spurs a 3-2 lead that they nailed down in seven.
Oh, and just before OT began after Allen’s ring-saving shot, I remember thinking of the many Miami fans who left the building early. I imagined them in their cars, banging on their dashboards over what they’d missed. Turns out, it was worse than that — they were banging on the arena doors but weren’t being allowed back in. My sense is, south Florida fans at AmericanAirlines Arena learned a hard lesson and maybe are a little better for it today. Bet hardly any of them admit they left early anyway. — Steve Aschburner, NBA.com
I am still amazed by the shot, maybe more than any basket in recent years and even recent decades. Look at Allen’s feet. After having the veteran’s presence to quickly head to the right spot, he has to know exactly where to get to while also thinking about backpedaling, squaring his shoulders and running the clock in his mind. A step closer to the basket, it becomes a two-pointer and history is changed. What a mix of composure and execution. — Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com
As someone who picked the Spurs to win in six games, I was reaching to pat myself on the back when I saw Chris Bosh’s pass go to a wide open Ray Allen in the corner and immediately thought: “Uh-oh.” It was the quick release in the face of a too-late Tony Parker that was most impressive. For the situation, it reminded me of Mario Elie’s “Kiss of Death” shot at Phoenix in 1995. For that release, nobody was ever quicker and sweeter to watch than Doug Collins. — Fran Blinebury, NBA.com
I was at home watching the game and marveling how the Spurs were going to win another championship six years after their last one over LeBron James with Cleveland. I remember the arena crew making the last-minute preparations for the visiting team to celebrate a championship on Miami’s home floor for the second time in three years. I remember LeBron making a couple of seemingly fatal turnovers, and thinking how he would criticism would crash down on him like never before. And then Allen, with that quick rise and flick-of-the-wrist release he has, just buried the thing from the corner, an impossible shot and the most improbable moment that changed everything we would talk about until now. — Jeff Caplan, NBA.com