Danny Ainge warned Suns not to allow 3-pointers before go-ahead John Paxson shot
Former Phoenix Suns All-Star guard and current Boston Celtics president and general manager Danny Ainge has painfully relived the final shot of the 1993 NBA Finals on “ESPN’s The Lowe Post.” This turn of events, of course, was featured as one of the defining moment of the Chicago Bulls dynasty in ESPN’s hit docu-series “The Last Dance.”
At that time, the Suns were pitted against Michael Jordan and the Bulls, who were on a quest for their first three-peat. Bulls guard John Paxson ended up making the championship-clinching three-pointer in that game, and Danny Ainge reflected on how the Suns specifically wanted to prevent a 3-pointer on that defensive play.
“I remember that we took a chance, went for a steal, and there was penetration by Scottie (Pippen). Scottie penetrated in, and I had Paxson,” Ainge recalled, via Kellan Olson of Arizona Sports. “And coming out of the timeout, I’m yelling at my team in the team huddle, “No threes! No threes!” I must have said it 10 times.”
“Scottie drives straight to the basket and hits Horace. And when he threw it to Horace, I never imagined that Horace was going to hot potato the ball out to Pax. I thought Horace was going to go up for a dunk, I thought maybe I could get it from behind or foul him hard but he got rid of that ball so quick, and I was just stuck in the middle of it. And there I left John Paxson open.”
The worst part for Ainge here is that Paxson was actually his defensive assignment. Once he realized his mistake, he pretty much knew it was over.
“I mean I’ve played against Pax my whole career and one thing I know about Pax is I did not think that shot was going to miss,” Ainge said. That was a very painful loss.”
It’s been nearly three decades since this transpired, but Ainge narrates the story as if it happened yesterday. It is clear that that particular moment has left a painful scar in the 61-year-old.