Most Memorable Hoops Moments of 2007
By Kevin Duffy
Another year is in the books, and 2007 was not short on great basketball moments. Here are the 25 most memorable moments from an exciting year on the hardcourt.
“*Make sure to check the links for clips of each.
[img_assist|nid=3556|title=Tyler Hansbrough|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=377|height=226]25. Tyler Hansbrough’s Bloody Nose
The ‘Heels prevailed 86-72, but with 14.5 seconds remaining Duke’s Gerald Henderson delivered a nasty (inadvertent?) elbow to the face of Tyler Hansbrough, who got up and wanted to retaliate despite the river of blood flowing from his nose.
As if the Blue Devils and Tar Heels don’t have enough to play for. This incident will certainly add to the bad blood (no pun intended) between the two rivals.
Bavetta, 67, runs 5-8 miles per day.
Barkley, 44, eats 5-8 slices of pizza per day.
Nonetheless, Barkley prevailed, proving once again that some people are natural born athletes and some are natural born referees.
In an absolutely bizarre scene, after unfairly being ejected from a heated basketball game, Mayo proceeds to knock over a referee while pleading his case. Even more strange was the appearance that the referee took a dive, creating a huge debate in online forums. Was the ref auditioning for a spot on a European soccer team? You be the judge.
“Strangely, No opponent was even given a technical, and five of Mayo’s teammates were also tossed for fleeing the bench in defense of their star.
“Mayo followed that up making headlines by throwing the ball into the stands after his final dunk in a high school game. The move drew wide criticism as he received a technical and the game had to be stopped to retrieve the basketball with a minute left on the game clock.
[img_assist|nid=3557|title=Derrick Byars|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=400|height=266]22. Vanderbilt vs. Washington State
The most exciting game of the 2007 NCAA Tournament was this back-and-forth match between two teams that just wouldn’t quit.
Vandy overcame a 10-point deficit in regulation and battled its way to a 78-74 double overtime victory. Senior star Derrick Byars, who scored a game-high 27 points, famously shouted “We’re not going home. We ain’t ever going home” to the crowd after the game.
The Commodores did end up going home in the next round against Georgetown, but that does not take away from the huge steps that Vanderbilt took in the 2007 season.
0.8 seconds. It’s enough time for a catch and shoot. But it’s also enough time for Dwight Howard to leap 12 feet in the air, snatch an alley-oop pass, and dunk on Tim Duncan at the buzzer to give Orlando a monumental victory in San Antonio.
Up 98-95 with less than 2 seconds remaining, all the Nuggets had to do was inbound the ball. They did just that- but to Rasheed Wallace. Wallace stole the pass and banked in a 3/4court prayer that sent the game into overtime. Detroit went on to win 113-109 in the extra session.
Somehow Eaton’s overhead heave wasn’t the best shot of the game. It simply set the stage for one of the greatest college basketball games in recent memory.
Maggette’s shot didn’t evoke the same kind of reaction from the crowd, but in terms of degree of difficulty, it certainly deserves to be mentioned with Eaton’s.
“Due to the relative lack of interest in European basketball in the States, these were sidenotes in the US, but Pana winning the Euro Final Four in Athens and Russia claiming their first EC in 20 years were the biggest basketball stories of the year in Europe. Holden's clutch jumper lifted Russia over host Spain and their NBA stocked squad to win their first European Championship since 1985.
“Facing 2006 champion CSKA and Greek star Theo Papaloukas, the Green were able to overcome the talent of CSKA with great team play and effort. Final Four MVP Dimitris Diamantidis led the way with 15 points. But the true MVP was the local Panathinaikos fans who truly affected the outcome of both of their Final Four wins.
[img_assist|nid=3558|title=Kevin Durant|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=375]18. Kevin Durant’s Final Home Game
Durant and the Longhorns withstood Acie Law’s late game heroics to topple Texas A&M 98-96 in double overtime on February 28.
Law forced both overtimes with rainbow three pointers, the first of which was a step-back knuckleballer over the outstretched arms of Durant with 1.1 seconds left in regulation. Durant finished the contest with 30 points and 16 rebounds, but acknowledged the terrific play of his counterpart.
"He just takes over games at the end," Durant said of Law. "He's a great player. Me and Acie are real good friends. It was fun going back and forth."
"It was a great game tonight," he added. "I'm just glad we won."
17. The Great Northwest wins big in the Draft Lottery
With Oden and Durant in the balance, Portland and Seattle bucked the odds and won the top 2 selections in the 2007 draft. Portland had a 5.3% chance to win, while Seattle had a 8.8% chance.
“Unfortunately after winning Durant (giving them great hope for the future) it appears a near certainty that Seattle will flee to Oklahoma City after an initiative to build a new arena was shot down by voters.
College basketball had never seen two freshmen dominate the way Kevin Durant and Greg Oden did last season. Durant was the runaway Naismith Award winner after averaging 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per contest. He played perhaps his best game of the year against Bobby Knight and Texas Tech on January 31 when he registered an unreal 37 points and 23 rebounds.
If it were not for an early season wrist injury, Greg Oden may have challenged Durant for Player of the Year honors. Nonetheless, Oden averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks en route to being selected First Team All-American and first overall in the 2007 NBA Draft.
In addition to those two, North Carolina’s Brandan Wright, Ohio State’s Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook, Arizona’s Chase Budinger, Washington’s Spencer Hawes, Georgia Tech’s Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young, and Stanford’s Brook Lopez were all dominant players in their own right. Due to the new rule that forbids players from entering the NBA Draft out of high school, this trend looks certain to continue. In NBADraft.net’s latest 2008 Mock Draft, the first seven players selected are freshmen.
[img_assist|nid=3559|title=Ron Lewis|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=379]15. Ron Lewis Keeps Ohio State Alive
Greg Oden fouled out and Xavier led Ohio State 61-52 with 2:54 remaining. The Buckeyes dream season looked all but over, but Ron Lewis was determined to make sure his career did not end that night.
With his Buckeyes on the verge of elimination, Lewis took a handoff pass from Mike Conley Jr. and nailed a deep three with 2 seconds left to send the game into overtime. The Buckeyes would go on to win 78-71 and advance all the way to the National Championship game.
“I was just trying to get an open look,” said Lewis, who scored 27 points. “I told Mike before we even left the huddle, ’Just give me the ball.’ That’s what he did. He found me.”
14. Gilbert Arenas does it again…and again…and again…
Arenas set off 2007 with a bang, as he broke a tie with the Milwaukee Bucks on a long-range buzzer beating three-pointer to give the Wizards a 108-105 victory on January 3.
Arenas followed that performance up with a buzzer beater from the identical spot against the Jazz on January 16, once again sending the home crowd into a frenzy. Oh by the way, Agent 0 scored 54 points in that game.
Arenas did it again against the Sonics on March 21 when he drove and converted a difficult lay-up as the horn went off, giving Washington a 108-106 win on the road.
The All-NBA point guard made headlines with several off the court antics, including the famous wager he made with teammate DeShawn Stevenson in which Stevenson had to shoot normal NBA 3-pointers and Arenas shot one handed college 3-pointers. They each put $20,000 on the line. Arenas made a remarkable 73 out of 100 while Stevenson fell short, making just 68.
Arenas later injured his knee with a month remaining in the season and missed the rest of the year. The injury bug continued early in the 2007-2008 season, as Arenas injured his knee again and required surgery. He was essentially ruled out for the regular season.
In that time, Agent 0 played his share of Halo 3 and allegedly cheated against dozens of 12 to 13-year olds. Arenas recently made news for calling out several players who turned down big contract offers, including Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, among others.
“You know, I want to say something to some of the young players out there in this game today. Especially somebody like Luol Deng who turned down that big contract. You don’t turn down $12 million. Period. That’s me, personally. I learned when I did my deal: Don’t look at other people’s money when you do your deal,” Arenas wrote in his NBA.com blog.
13. Morris Peterson buzzer beater—Did that really just happen?
Hey Michael Ruffin, we know you’re a bad free throw shooter, so throwing the ball up in the air to run the clock out was a good idea right? Not quite.
Ruffin didn’t throw it up high enough, and Morris Peterson caught the ball and threw in a prayer from near mid-court to send the game into overtime.
I’m surprised this play didn’t get more media attention. I’ve thought through all possible game-ending scenarios, and there’s only one way to lose a game in more heartbreaking fashion: If Ruffin’s heave accidentally went into his own basket.
The only thing more boring than watching the Spurs is reading about them.
So I’ll spare everyone the lecture and just say this: San Antonio may not be exciting, but the Spurs have a Hall of Fame big man, a premier 2-guard and point guard, and a group of very good veterans who understand their roles. I’m done picking against them. Aside from Boston, I don’t see any team capable of knocking them off this season.
Its no wonder Sean Sutton looked like he was going to faint on the bench every game.
Sutton’s Oklahoma State Cowboys were involved in some heart-wrenching games through the course of the regular season, but none more exciting than Mario Boggan’s “Anything you can do, I can do better” duel with Kevin Durant on January 16. Durant finished with 37 points and 12 rebounds, but it was not enough to overcome a heroic 37 and 20 from Boggan.
The OSU home crowd exploded and all of Gallagher-Iba Arena rushed onto the court after the most intense college basketball game in years.
"In this building, I always believe that we can do anything," Sutton said.
There would be no second or third place finish for Team USA this time around. The Americans never played a close game, as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony took turns dunking on opponents while Jason Kidd distributed and the combination of Dwight Howard and Amare Stoudemire manned the interior.
James set a team-record with 31 points in USA’s 118-81 Championship game victory over Argentina. He shot 76 percent from the field and 62 percent from 3-point range throughout the tournament.
Down 74-67 with 40 seconds remaining, Barton stormed back behind senior point guard Anthony Atkinson, who capitalized on a number of Winona turnovers to score the final ten Bulldog points of the game.
In the closing seconds, sophomore guard Bobby Buffaloe stole the ball near midcourt and threw a pass to Atkinson, who sunk a breakaway lay-up as the buzzer sounded, propelling Barton to the improbable 77-75 victory.
To make the against-all-odds comeback even more impressive, Winona State was riding 56-game winning streak going into the game.
"We are so blessed to be sitting here as national champions," Barton head coach Ron Lievense said. "This team has a heart so huge. How that game was won, and who it was won against, it could not have ended any better."
[img_assist|nid=3560|title=Eric Maynor|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=234|height=261]8. Virginia Commonwealth’s Eric Maynor downs Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
VCU’s sophomore guard became a household name after knocking down a pull-up jumpshot with 1.8 seconds remaining to give the 11th seeded Rams an improbable victory over the most storied college basketball program of the last decade.
Maynor, who was named first team All-Colonial Athletic Association and was instrumental in propelling VCU to its CAA Final victory over George Mason, instantly became the new darling of the NCAA Tournament.
"That is the magic of the NCAA tournament, where stars are born," said Oklahoma Coach Jeff Capel, the former VCU coach who recruited Maynor to the school. "You can look at shot after shot that will always be in the minds of fans. He was able to do it on the biggest stage. He is a star now."
Ok, I stole the slogan from the ESPN commercial. It was too clever to pass up.
The Celtics went from the worst team in the league last year to the best so far this season (currently 27-3). After missing out on Oden and Durant in the draft lottery, GM Danny Ainge cooked up a draft-night deal to bring Ray Allen to Boston in exchange for the No. 5 pick (Jeff Green), Delonte West, and Wally Sczerzbiak.
He then dealt away Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, and two first-round picks to bring Kevin Garnett to Beantown alongside Paul Pierce and Allen.
Though the team looked very thin at first, free agent signings such as Eddie House and James Posey, along with the emergence of youngsters Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, and Tony Allen have helped the Celtics become favorites to win the NBA Title. Hats off to Ainge for engineering one of the most remarkable one-year turnarounds in sports history. Boston figures to contend for the championship for at least the next three seasons. And kudos to Kevin McHale for dealing KG to his old team, "once a Celtic, always a Celtic" apparently is his motto. McHale certainly deserves a ring if they win one.
The gambling controversy surrounding NBA referee Tim Donaghy may have been the most newsworthy story in all of basketball last year, as it received front-page attention on most major newspapers across the country.
Donaghy was accused of betting tens of thousands of dollars on games over the past two seasons and then on passing information to bookees and receiving a cut for each game he correctly “fixed.”
On July 27, Donaghy turned himself in. He currently faces up to 25 years in prison and perhaps even worse, is permanently banned from the Basketball Hall of Fame.
[img_assist|nid=3561|title=Steve Nash|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=252|height=336]5. Robert Horry’s Flagrant Foul on Steve Nash
The play of the year for the San Antonio Spurs? It wasn’t a Tim Duncan post-move or a Tony Parker floater. It was the flagrant foul that Robert Horry delivered to Steve Nash in game four of what was for all intents and purposes the NBA Finals.
“Cheapshot” Rob’s (calculated?) forearm shiver on Steve Nash after the game was already determined prompted Amare Stoudemire to flee the bench and defend his seemingly injured point guard. Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were each suspended a game for leaving the bench, which allowed San Antonio to face a depleted Phoenix squad in the pivital game 5 in Phoenix. The Spurs quickly finished off the series in 6 games, as their core players (outside Amare and Boris) had expended themselves playing additional minutes without the two.
“Who was refereeing this game? You got it, Tim Donaghy.
Longtime radio host Don Imus made headlines when he referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy headed hoes" on his show on April 4. The comment drew nationwide media attention and Imus, who initially insisted the comments were just made "to be funny," was fired a week later. After personally apologizing to the Rutgers team, Imus has now somehow found himself back on the radio and back on billboards all across New York City.
“You know that Tim Duncan, he’s a real motormouth. Who can blame Joey Crawford for tossing that trash-talking hooligan?
Well, apparently the NBA can. Crawford was suspended for the entire season for his inexplicable antics. Duncan, who maintained that Crawford challenged him to a fight after the game, was fined $25,000 by the league for laughing.
Duncan should have been paid $25,000 for laughing. Maybe then he’d be a little more marketable.
Florida concluded a dominant NCAA Tournament with an 84-75 victory over Greg Oden and Ohio State, becoming the first team to win back to back titles since Duke in 1992. Oden’s 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocks kept the Buckeyes in the game, but it was not enough to derail the most complete college basketball team in recent history.
Corey Brewer was named the MVP of the Final Four, but any of the other four starters were deserving of the award.
Head Coach Billy Donovan put it best when he said “I think this team should go down as one of the best teams in college basketball history," coach Billy Donovan said. "Not as the most talented, and not on style points -- but because they encompassed what the word 'team' means."
[img_assist|nid=3562|title=Baron Davis|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=375]2. The Golden State Warriors become the first 8 seed to defeat a 1 seed in a 7-game series.
If there were ever a time for NBA fans to rush the court, it would have been Game 6 of the Warriors inconceivable upset over No. 1 seeded Dallas.
Baron Davis and an arena full of fans sporting yellow “We Believe” shirts simply overwhelmed the Mavericks, who were run off the court 111-86 in Game 6 and defeated 4-2 in the series.
Dallas had no answer for Davis the entire series, and couldn’t contain the explosive Monta Ellis or stop Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes from hitting timely three-pointers. In that two-week stretch, Golden State went from an unknown to “America’s Team”. Golden State has long had some of the best fans in the league, and their energy and passion in this series proved it.
“We made NBA history tonight and that's the best thing about it. We did it as a team," Davis said. "I'm so proud of my teammates and proud to be a part of this franchise."
“The only consolation for Dallas was when Nowitzki later won the league MVP.
Anyone who ever questioned LeBron’s clutch play or “it” factor (ahem, Skip Bayless) were promptly silenced with this performance.
There was nothing James couldn’t do, as he accounted for 29 of the Cavs’ final 30 points in a dramatic Game 6 109-107 double overtime victory over the Pistons. He hit several impossible-looking step-back jumpers late in the game and got to the basket at will on one of the best defensive teams in the league. LBJ’s final stat line: 18-33 FGs, 2-3 3FG, 10-14 FT, 48 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, and 1 franchise-changing victory.
On that night, we truly were all witnesses.
Comments/Questions are encouraged. Contact Kevin Duffy at Kevin.R.Duffy@uconn.edu.