When the Best Offense Would Have Been No Defense


It made some news at the time, but I swear I didn't notice it.

I just learned about an amazing play in which, after a jumpball, a certain NBA player drove to the wrong hoop and attempted to make a basket. He missed, in no small part because he was fouled by an aggressive and misguided defender, who was apparently eager to keep his own team from making two easy points.

Which means you had a moment of an NBA game -- we're talking about the finest basketball league in the history of one of the most popular sports on the planet -- where not one, but two players did not know which basket was theirs.

This is a nightmare, by the way, if you are a referee. Shooting foul? Or out of bounds? 

Patricia, of Patricia's Various Basketball Stuff, wrote about the April 1999 game like this: 

Only in a Golden State-Dallas game can you have one of the boneheadest plays ever topped by an even more boneheaded play.

When I saw it live, I was completely confused as to what had just happened (they never showed a replay in the arena). I knew that something _very_ wrong had just happened, but my brain couldn't accept what it was. My confusion greatly increased when Golden State inbounded the ball and headed the other way down the court.

A few minutes into the 4th quarter, Robert Pack and Terry Cummings had a jump ball at the Mavs' end of the court. Chris Mills got the ball and went for the layup, but Samaki Walker came over and blocked the ball and the refs called a foul on Walker. Of course, Mills was shooting at the Mavs' basket.

The refs huddled to figure out how to handle the call. P.J. Carlesimo wanted it to be a shooting foul, but gave up that argument when the ref responded with okay, but Mills had to shoot at the Mavs' basket. It ended up being a non-shooting foul with Golden State inbounding the ball on the side.

Mills was able to laugh about it after the game and Walker wouldn't talk to the media about it. Walker got razzed by his teammates when he returned to the bench at the next timeout.

The irony of the whole thing was that Dallas lost by one point. 

Chris Mills, Samaki Walker ... we salute you.

(Thanks to Rodney for making me aware of this.)