Some may have forgotten about the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals, but for San Antonio Spurs fans, it will go down as one of the biggest blunders in franchise history — thanks to Derek Fisher.
In what was a vintage playoff series, the Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers each seemed like teams of destiny heading into a pivotal Game 5. It also quickly became San Antonio’s series to lose as they returned to their home floor.
Following a miraculous Spurs comeback late in the fourth quarter, and a mighty go-ahead bucket from Tim Duncan, it was Fisher who would then bring the house down:
Yes, there was less than a second on the clock.
No, this video was not in slow motion.
But according to Fisher himself, it was also too good of a shot to be true (h/t Jeff Garcia of Spurs Zone):
“I was in disbelief,” Fisher told Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe on FS1’s “Undisputed.”
“It was not until I saw a still photo, after the fact, that I knew (Manu) Ginobili was in my face like that. My eyes were only on the rim. I did not see him at all.
“I thought it (the shot) was long. I knew it was right on line but because I was fading back, I guess instinctively I put an extra touch on it. But I thought I shot that ball way too hard. It’s was going over the basket.
“I also think being a lefty, the clock operator is behind. So the clock operator has to wait a split second to make sure I actually caught the ball. So to your credit Skip, maybe it was 0.5 (seconds). You got to give 0.1 seconds to the clock operator.”
This cruel memory will never sit well for San Antonio fans. There also lies the fact that after all these years, the man who stepped in their way of an NBA Finals appearance believes that the shot probably shouldn’t have counted.
No, that doesn’t help cope with the “what could have been” feeling either.
But given the Spurs’ successful track record over the past decade, perhaps they can let this one slide for Derek Fisher.