Tony Parker checks the scoreboard (Getty Images)
It seems like simple, armchair-level, analysis. With your team up four in the final seconds of a game, you don’t foul. Don’t attempt to aggressively contest three-pointers, and don’t fall prey to shot fakes from tricky types like Dwyane Wade. Up four with under five seconds to go, you don’t need to risk a game-tying four-point play just to act all Bruce Bowen-y on defense. Any goofball could draw this up.
Not every NBA coach would let just any goofball draw it up, though. Which is why it was incredibly cool to watch San Antonio Spurs head man Gregg Popovich let Spurs guard Tony Parker run the team’s final huddle during Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, right after TP hit the game-sealing “jumper.” Watch:
Now, letting the players commiserate amongst themselves during the initial stages of a timeout is par for the NBA’s time out course. Usually coaches confer amongst themselves while giving the players a chance to catch their breath after the whistle blows, before walking into the scrum to dole out instructions. And with Game 1’s referees at the scorer’s table attempting to determine the legality of the shot Tony Parker just hit, the Spurs had extra time to go over what felt like the obvious.
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NBA coaches are the type of guys that call plays after offensive rebounds, though. And while Coach Pop has always allowed his players extra helpings of play-calling freedom, it says quite a bit about the coach and his players that he would have the security to give up control of the huddle, and that the players would work amongst themselves to get it exactly right.
Tony Parker is perhaps the best point guard in the NBA, and possibly a future NBA head coach. The situation – up four with 4.2 seconds left against a much-studied Miami Heat team – called for an obvious breakdown. Parker and partner in crime Tim Duncan broke no new ground with their analysis of the situation at hand.
Still, they had it in hand, and Coach Pop was secure enough to hand over his huddle. Parker, covered in sweat after just eluding LeBron James to hit the game-winner, is to be championed for articulating that breakdown. And Gregg Popovich is to be lauded for allowing us one of the more impressive moments of the 2013 NBA playoffs.
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