Ray Allen has made 3,209 three-pointers in a career that has spanned 17 seasons and included 10 trips to the playoffs. Of all those shots, number 3,209 will go down as his most memorable. Where were you with 5.2 seconds left? Where were you when Allen backpedaled to the corner, rose up, flicked his wrist and changed everything in the fourth quarter of Game 6 — delivering one of the greatest experiences in South Florida sports history?
Allen’s shot tied the score at 95-95 to force overtime, and the Heat won 103-100 for a winner-take-all Game 7.
Now here are the words of the players and coaches who lived through “The Shot.”
It begins the only way it can, with seven words (six that are fit to print) from the hands that made it all happen.
“Get those [motherbleeping] ropes out of here!”
Moments after Allen hit the shot, one of the game’s assistant officials, Mike Callahan, ordered a stoppage of play to review whether Allen’s feet were behind the three-point line. As Allen trotted back to the Heat’s bench he shouted his now famous phrase at the security personnel who were lined around the perimeter of the court and holding a long yellow rope, which had been brought out to keep people off the court during the trophy ceremony.
The ropes made their first appearance of the series with 28.2 seconds on the clock after Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called a timeout with his team trailing by five points, 94-89.
Allen: “The yellow rope pissed me off. It did. I’ve been in two other situations where I see that come out. And it wasn’t a good thing in those situations. There was a minute or so left in the game, and it was almost like San Antonio, the players on the bench, were celebrating. The rope came out, and some of our fans were leaving the building. We didn’t give up. We knew we had to continue to push through this.
“We just, to a man, felt like — a couple of the guys said it — this wasn’t how it was supposed to be, and we don’t see this. This is not what our future is. Not right now. Not here. We fought to make sure that didn’t happen.”
LeBron James, who had 13 points in the fourth quarter at that point, and who had willed the Heat back in the game after Miami trailed by 10 points, 75-65, had a series of potentially devastating possessions (turnover, turnover, airball) during an 11-second stretch of time, but it was clear at that point that if the Heat was going down, it was going down with ball in the MVP’s hands. Mike Miller caught/rebounded James’ three-point airball under the basket and then whipped it back out to him. This time James’ shot went down, cutting the Spurs’ lead to two points, 94-92, with 20.1 seconds left.
James: “After we came out [to begin the fourth quarter], before we entered the ball, I basically just told myself, give it all I got. If we go down losing, I’m going to go down with no bullets. I’m going all out. I can be satisfied with the results.”
Amazingly, five seconds before James’ three-pointer, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich subbed out future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan for Boris Diaw.
Duncan: “It’s what we’ve done all year. In a situation where we were going to switch a lot of things, and it’s just unfortunate the way it happened.”