Last Saturday night, I saw the venerable Tim Duncan make a classic post move on the much smaller Reggie Jackson to put the Spurs up 3 with less than 20 seconds to go in overtime, pretty much sealing both Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s season. Seeing the reaction of the Thunder fans as Duncan walked to his bench for the timeout was a bittersweet moment for me. As much as I absolutely hate the Thunder because they are, in essence, the stolen Seattle SuperSonics, I actually felt empathy for the fans. Tim Duncan did the same exact thing to the Sonics in a Game 6 of the 2005 Western Conference Semifinals. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the shot that killed the Seattle SuperSonics.
How I first came across this moment? I was actually watching the game. It was Game 6 and the Sonics were facing elimination after getting Ginobili’d in Game 5. Having won Games 3 & 4 on the home court, I felt confident that we would force a winner-take-all in San Antonio…even with Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmonovic sitting out with injuries. The game was actually very exciting. Ray Allen took it to the rack to finish at the 1st quarter buzzer to give the good guys a 5-point lead. The Spurs smoked us with a hot 2nd quarter to go up 5 at the break. We battled back to take a 73-72 lead into the 4th quarter. The final frame was pretty much played in a phone booth with 5 ties and 11 lead changes. Down 4 with 1:22 to play, the Sonics went on a 5-1 run to tie it at 96 with 14.4 seconds to go. Manu Ginobili ate up the clock, drove left and found Tim Duncan for a close-range bank shot with 5-tenths of a second left. After the timeout, Ray Allen missed a game-winning 3-pointer and the series and season was done.
What it meant to me then? At the time, I was crushed by the season ending the way it did. After years of mediocrity, the Sonics had seemingly broken through with a 52-30 regular season which included a Northwest Division championship in the 1st season of that division. After dispatching the Kings with relative ease in the 1st Round, I thought we had a good shot at knocking out the Spurs and setting up a possible showdown with the Suns in the Western Conference Finals. Duncan’s shot ended all of that and I was pissed for a week.
What it means to me now? It’s been 9 years since Duncan’s shot ended our season. My heart still hurts over that play. As of today, the SuperSonics no longer exist as a franchise after that punk mofo Clay Bennett stole it from the fans of Seattle. The series loss in 2005 represented the last playoff appearance for the Sonics as the next 3 seasons were losing efforts. In a way, I guess you can say that Duncan’s shot killed the Sonics. We ended up losing our coach to the hated Trail Blazers a few weeks later and Ray Allen never quite had the juice to lead us back to basketball in May.