Sherman Alexie, writer, e-mails about the amazing kinds of shots people attempt with the game on the line:
I've always found it frustrating to watch an NBA team play smart ball until the last minute of the game, until that last death-defying possession when the star juggles chainsaws, pulls rabbits out of hats, water skis over a shark tank, and tries to hit some incredibly low-percentage, isolation-play shot to win the game.
It occurs to me that last desperate play is very Aristotle-three-act-structure, very James Cameron, very Hollywood entertainment. It's Bruce Willis pulling that taped gun off his back at the end of Die Hard, it is Steve McQueen motorcycle jumping that fence in Germany. It's a car chase, it's a ticking bomb, it's a plane without a pilot.
And we all love it. I love it. Because it's childish, it entertains the child in us, the adolescent. Heck, the squirrel in us who loves bright shiny objects.
Or, hey, let's put it this way. We invest a lot of time, money, and emotion in watching NBA basketball, and are we really rewarded for that if Bill Wennington gets the big dunk to win the game, even if it was from a Jordan assist? I just tried to find that play on youtube and was only able to find an animated representation of it.
So I'm just thinking, for 47 minutes the NBA game is about basketball, and the last 1 minute is often just an X-Games thrill ride.