Charlotte Bobcats wing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist became the second overall pick in June's NBA draft not because of any one skill or talent, but because he has a tenacity that infuses pretty much everything he does on the court. Along with his elite athleticism and a terrific basketball IQ, that makes Kidd-Gilchrist a dangerous player in transition, on the boards and on defense. If a play looks over or the ball seems beyond his reach, he's liable to find a way to succeed anyway.
Such a moment occurred on Saturday in the middle of the Bobcats' surprising late comeback against the Dallas Mavericks. With approximately 4:20 left in the fourth quarter and his team down 84-76, MKG grabbed a rebound and immediately started to push the ball up the court. Around midcourt, he split Mavs defenders Darren Collison and Elton Brand with a subtle move and lost his left shoe in the process. But that didn't stop Kidd-Gilchrist at all — he just kept on moving without losing significant speed or balance and slid past O.J. Mayo at the rim to cut the lead to six.
This play is goofy, but it also requires special levels of skill and determination. Anyone who's ever set foot on a well-maintained basketball court knows that they can be quite slick even in heavy-traction athletic shoes. Moving around in even one sock is extremely difficult, both because of the difference in height between the soles of the feet and the slickness of the floor. What MKG did here is pretty phenomenal.
The Bobcats ended up winning the game 101-97 in overtime, so it's likely that the team never would have come out ahead if not for this play. That goes for Kidd-Gilchrist's game as a whole, too: he scored 25 points (8-of-12 FG and 9-of-10 FT), hauled in 10 rebounds, and committed no turnovers in 41 minutes. MKG has a long way to go to become a star, but that performance — along with the commitment that he showed on this improbable basket — highlight the sort of player who can play a major role in turning around a downtrodden franchise.