Debate: “The Memorial Day Miracle” vs. “The TD 3”


Throughout the Spurs history, Spurs fans have been treated to many memorable shots.  Spurs fans seen Tony Parker hit game winning shots, Manu’s clutch shooting and Roger Mason’s heroics this past season.  But two shots are heads above the rest and are etched in Spurs fans minds:  Sean Elliott’s “Memorial Day Miracle” against the Blazers in the 1999 NBA Playoffs and Tim Duncan’s “3” against the Suns in the 2008 NBA Playoffs.

Both worthy of legendary status but which was the bigger shot?  Let’s take a look at the “tale of the tape” and you decide.

The Memorial Day Miracle

May 31, 1999.  Memorial Day.  San Antonio.  1999 NBA Playoffs Game 2 Western Conference Semifinals, Spurs vs. Blazers in the Alamodome.

It was late in the fourth quarter and the Spurs battled their way out of an 18 point deficit to bring the score 83-85 Blazers leading, with 12 seconds left in the game.  Mario Elie inbounds the ball to Sean Elliott, who was tip-toeing the corner sideline.  The ball barely clearing the outstretch hands of Stacy Augmon, Elliott catches the ball, heels never touching the floor though they were out of bounds, Rasheed Wallace leaping to try to block the shot, Elliott launches a “3” over Wallace, and makes it!  Spurs take their first lead with 9 seconds left and go on to win the game, 86-85, taking a 2-0 lead over the Blazers.

Points to consider:

  • Elliott, though heels were out of bounds, never touched the floor
  • Elliott was known to hit the “3” thus making it more likely he would make it
  • Elliott had to shoot over Wallace
  • Spurs were down as much as 18 points and were down heading into the final quarter
  • The shot devastated the Blazers moral and got swept by the Spurs

Tim Duncan’s “3”

April 19, 2008.  San Antonio.  2008 NBA Playoffs Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round in the AT&T Center.

This game was already epic and was in overtime.  Just as in the “Memorial Day Miracle”, the Spurs were down with 12 seconds left in overtime.  Score was 104-101.  Manu had the ball, used a screen from Duncan for what looked like a shot at the rim.  Instead, Duncan had drifted to the 3-point line, Manu passed the ball out to Duncan with 6 seconds left, with no one around him, he lines up for a three, releases and makes it!  This ties the game, sending it to double-OT where the Spurs won and dismissed the Suns out of the playoffs yet again winning the series 4-1.

Points to consider:

  • Duncan is not known for 3-range thus making the shot more improbable
  • Duncan’s last 3-pointer was March 28, 2007
  • The game was already in OT, sending it to double-OT
  • The Spurs were down as much as 16 points
  • The shot crushed the moral of the Suns and they never recovered
  • Duncan was 0-4 from 3-point line during the 2008 regular season

As you can see Spurs fans, two spectacular shots by two great Spurs players.  Let’s settle this once and for all.  The winner of this debate will go on to face the “Horry 3” in the 2005 NBA Finals.

Next week the Project Spurs writers will have a roundtable post and will give our opinions on which was the bigger shot.  Leave your comments and go vote on the poll which shot was bigger.