In the annals of NBA playoff history, only a select few shots hold the distinction of being game-changers and saviors of their teams. Recently, Derrick White of the Boston Celtics added his name to that illustrious list with a breathtaking dunk that tied the Conference Finals at three games apiece against the Miami Heat. This shot, with its significance, difficulty, and incredible comeback, solidified its place among the iconic moments in the league’s history.
White’s heroics mirrored a similar feat achieved by basketball legend Michael Jordan on May 7, 1989. Jordan’s renowned “The Shot” against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs altered the course of his career. With the series tied at 2-2, Jordan defied gravity, soaring over Craig Ehlo and executing a spectacular off-balance shot that secured victory for the Chicago Bulls. It was a pivotal moment that prevented the Bulls from facing elimination and solidified Jordan’s status as a bona fide superstar.
In the documentary series “The Last Dance,” which chronicles Jordan’s illustrious career, the story behind “The Shot” was unveiled. Even today, it remains etched in the memory of those who witnessed it. Brad Daugherty, Jordan’s former college teammate at North Carolina and a star player for Cleveland, marveled at the athleticism and artistry displayed by Jordan, describing it as the best shot he had ever seen.
Derrick White’s feat, on the other hand, bears a different narrative. While the Boston Celtics boast a rich history and numerous championship banners hanging at TD Garden, White’s shot epitomized a team’s resilience and hunger for success. With stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the way, White’s heroic shot represented a near-miraculous moment.
Teammates, like Grant Williams, could hardly believe what they witnessed. Miami’s stout defense seemed to have successfully thwarted the play, forcing Marcus Smart into a difficult and hurried shot. However, in the midst of chaos, White rose to the occasion, elevating above Max Strus and delivering a shot that defied the odds.
“We will give everything. Whatever it takes. We’re in the fight,” exclaimed Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla, capturing the team’s unwavering determination.
While there have been other extraordinary game-winning shots in the playoffs, such as Kawhi Leonard’s memorable shot against the Philadelphia 76ers, the significance of saving a team from elimination sets these two shots apart. Derrick White’s and Michael Jordan’s iconic moments will forever be remembered as symbols of resilience, skill, and the electrifying magic that unfolds in the NBA Playoffs.