It's the morning after the night before and much like a hangover we're left wondering exactly what happened. Portland and Denver whet our appetite before the Sixers and Raptors turned up like a pair of frat bros and turned the party up a level.
It's hard to remember anything that happened during that game besides one moment, the clock ticking down and Kawhi Leonard jumping before shooting the ball over an outstretched Joel Embiid and onto the rim of the basket before bouncing...
Before finally dropping between the hoop.
Yes, people, Kawhi's walk-off winner is the greatest buzzer-beater of all time. Here's why:
Okay, before we get stuck in and you all tweet me to tell me that I'm wrong and X's buzzer-beater is better because Y, I'm going to tell you why they aren't.
'The Shot' isn't even Michael Jordan's defining shot and it was in Game 5, it's not the GOAT. John Stockton's 3 to send the Jazz to the '97 Finals was great but he wasn't under a huge amount of pressure. Derek Fisher's game winner for the Lakers felt like he tossed it and hoped, even if running down the tunnel afterwards was excellent. Don't even try and mention LeBron's winner against the Magic, it was in Game 2, so behave.
The Game Beforehand
The game had been an all-timer anyway, with the Sixers playing some great basketball inbetween bizarre lapses in offensive creativity and Kawhi going absolute wild.
The NBA's least marketable megastar was the MVP of the series and for my money, has been the MVP of the playoffs so far. We already know Kawhi is the best defensive player in the league and likely a top three talent but this was his moment. Not only was it his moment but it was potentially the last second of his Raptors career before potentially heading off the Clippers. He took the opportunity to show that he is far from a very talented meme. If you look closely there was even a brief glimpse of a smile for a split second.
Game 7 Effect
It was the final second, of the final and decisive game, which sent the winner to the Conference Finals. The importance of the situation only adds to the stature of the shot. Not only that but it had been a rollercoaster of a series, with both teams taking turns to look like they'd snatch it and advance, it had been truly blockbuster stuff.
Joel Embiid is a very large man and as the ball looped over his 213cm tall frame it felt like karma to all of those who've been on the recieving end of his trolls and wisecracks. The NBA's most viral star was dumbfounded and left in tears, which unsurprisingly didn't pass Twitter by unnoticed. As a fan of 'The Process' I found it hard to watch but it was no doubt a moment of pure cosmic karma.
You know the one, it's been shared everywhere. The talented Mark Blinch has taken a picture which wouldn't look out of place hanging at the Met, a true renaissance piece, it looks like it could have been painted by Michelangelo if we were a) not dead b) a hoops fan.
Embiid's face, Kawhi's tongue poking from the corner of his mouth, the bench squatting and ready to explode upward and all of those crowd expressions.
The Bounce (x4)
It felt like an eternity but as the ball was bouncing on the hoop it looked like it was about to both drop in and fall wide. I've never seen death in the face but for that second we knew what it felt like to see our lives flash before our eyes as fragments of a second felt like hours.
Bonus Reason: Koreans
Every great sporting moment needs an x-factor and for Kawhi's buzz-beater it's the Korean commentary with the announcers creating a spine-tingling narration which has only improved an already iconic moment of basketball history.
By Sam Farley