Thunder's Derek Fisher looks back on his legendary 2004 buzzer-beater in the Lakers-Spurs series

On May 13, 2004, Derek Fisher supplied one of the greatest playoff moments in NBA history. With just 0.4 seconds remaining in Game 5 between his Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs, Fisher made a miraculous buzzer-beating jump shot that you have to see to believe.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 25, 2012
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The 2 minute, 40 second Internet clip captured Derek Fisher's full attention.

Once he sat down and started studying the video, Fisher didn't move. He didn't even mutter the slightest sound.

Eight years later, Fisher still watches the footage like he's seeing it for the first time. Only when the video ends does the veteran Thunder guard speak — but not before requiring a long pause to collect his thoughts.

“It takes me back,” Fisher said. “It was some time ago. A lot happened at that moment, and a lot has happened since then. To think about everything in between, and for me to be sitting here right now, it's pretty amazing how life works out.”

On May 13, 2004, Fisher supplied one of the greatest playoff moments in NBA history. With just 0.4 seconds remaining in Game 5 between his Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs, Fisher made a miraculous buzzer-beating jump shot that you have to see to believe. To this day, it still ruffles the feathers of Spurs fans, many of whom never will acknowledge the shot's legitimacy.

On Friday, just two days before the Thunder and Spurs open the Western Conference Finals, Fisher relived his legendary shot in a first-person account to The Oklahoman.

The background

“We were up 17 at one point in that game. To be in that situation at the end of that game was just frustrating beyond belief. I was just kind of like, ‘This is unbelievable that we allowed this to happen. Now, lets' figure out a way to give ourselves a chance to get it back. I didn't know how it was going to happen, or who was going to make the shot. All I knew is there was time still on the clock and so we still had a chance. But those last 11 seconds were a microcosm of the way the game went. It was back and forth. We get the lead, they come back and they take the lead, but we still had to fight through and finish it off with a basket.”

The go-ahead shot

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant hit a pull-up jumper with 11.5 seconds remaining to put L.A. ahead, 72-71.

“We weren't surprised that he made a big shot, a tough shot. That's what he had done up to that point and always will do as a player. From there, like I've been telling our guys since I've been here, for some strange reason it always comes down to having to get a stop in order to win a big playoff game. No matter how the first 47 minutes and 52 seconds go, something always happens where those last eight seconds, in order for you to win, you're probably going to have to get a defensive stop. I don't know why it works that way. It just does. So after Kobe hit his shot, that's what I was thinking, ‘One stop and we win.' And then Duncan hits his shot and then all of that goes out the window.”

‘Frustration and disbelief'

After an intentional foul by Fisher and a San Antonio timeout, Spurs forward Tim Duncan caught an inbounds pass from Manu Ginobili on the right wing. With Shaquille O'Neal draped all over him, preventing a clean pass back to a cutting Ginobili, Duncan took two dribbles left to the top of the key. He faded away and launched. He nailed the shot with 0.4 seconds remaining to put the Spurs up 73-72.

“Mostly frustration. A little bit of disbelief that he made the shot. It was a tough shot, but mostly just frustration that we put ourselves in that position. I wasn't thinking it was a lucky shot. I wasn't thinking anything, really. Just from an accountability standpoint, I was just mad. We had a 17-point lead and put ourselves in a position where now we had to make something, in a sense, miraculous happen in order to win. I didn't know it was going to be me. But during that timeout, when the camera is on my face, that's literally what I'm thinking is ‘Why did we put ourselves in this position?' ”


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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