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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

The timeouts

Immediately following Duncan's shot, the Lakers called a timeout, and a chess match ensued. Two subsequent timeouts were called, one by each team, before play would resume.

“During the timeout, the whole time I'm not thinking ‘OK, we lost. The game is over.' I'm just mad that we're even in this position to begin with because we were up 17. I had no idea how we were going to score, but until the game is over it's never over. There were two timeouts called prior to the play where I actually made the shot. So you're trying to stay composed and poised and focused and then come on the court and try to run a play … timeout. Come back out, San Antonio calls timeout. So eight or nine minutes goes by before you actually get to the actual moment. I was just really trying to stay locked in, making sure I'm listening to what (coach) Phil (Jackson) is drawing up on the board; making sure I'm going to be in the right spot that I'm supposed to be in.”

The play

“The typical line play that most teams run. With that much time left, you spin your big out to the front of the rim to see if you can get the lob to the rim. Then I think Karl (Malone) was going to spin and set a little pick for Kobe to flash up so maybe Kobe can just step up and catch and shoot right above the 3-point line. And they played that well. But Robert Horry was guarding the inbound taker, which was Gary Payton. And he doubled Kobe and didn't guard the guy out of bounds, which gave him an open window to just throw it to me. I just waited for everybody to move and I just flashed into an open area. Really, at the end of the day, it was Gary Payton's trust to throw the ball to somebody else other than Kobe or Shaq that really led to the basket. A lot of guys don't trust other people in those situations. They feel like they have to get it to the star guy. So it was his trust and throwing the ball right where I could just catch it and turn and shoot at the same time.”

The celebration

Fisher executed the catch-and-shoot perfectly, fading to his left after receiving the pass from Payton and throwing up a high-arcing shot over Ginobili. Fisher's momentum sent him to the floor. But when the shot went in, Fisher picked himself up and immediately raced to the opposite end of the floor and out of the tunnel in the far end zone.

“Yeah, that was just old school. You play in high school on the road sometimes in places that aren't safe to play in. And when you win a road game at the buzzer, you better run and get on that bus and get on up out of there before some stuff starts to jump off. So that was just kind of like ‘Let's get out of here.' There's no overturning, no coming back on the court. Game over. Let's go. That was probably the most hilarious part of the whole thing after I finally went back and watched it, because I didn't watch it until after the season was over. The funniest part was watching the shot go in, I get up off the floor and as I'm sprinting that way, everybody on the bench was running down this way. So I fly by them and they have to 180 and turn back and sprint after me going out that way.”

The aftermath has ranked Fisher's shot as the 18th greatest moment in playoff history. It is still shown in arenas throughout the league today and is widely considered to be one of the most improbable shots of all time.

“It's kind of amazing, really, to me. I've always looked at it as one of many. But for other people, it just doesn't work that way. They really feel strongly about that one particular shot. It's one of those moments in life that will never be forgotten. That's kind of surreal, kind of humbling to think about a basketball play being that kind of moment in people's life where they just never ever forget it.”

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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