AJ on his winning shot


Spurs fans know “the shot.” The shot former Spur Avery Johnson made in the 1999 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks that solidified the franchise’s first NBA championship.

But did you know the play was not originally built around him?

This gem is from Celtics Hub and Johnson describes the way the play was originally designed.

Of his championship-clinching jumper against the Knicks in 1999, Johnson says: “I was the last person we wanted taking that shot.” The play was built around an entry pass to Tim Duncan with the hope that if the Knicks doubled, they would drop off of either Sean Elliott or Mario Elie. They doubled off of Johnson instead. But Gregg Popovich, in a bit of proto-analytics work, had anticipated this and put Johnson about 15-feet away along the left baseline–not a customary spot for a point guard. “That was probably the only shot I could make,” Johnson laughs. Pop also stationed Elie in the right corner, because the numbers showed Elie shot well from there.

(h/t Celtics Hub)

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Michael is the founder and editor of ProjectSpurs.com. He has a long history in journalism, sports and online media. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others.