It’s a moment any Detroit Pistons fan of the 90’s – 00’s will remember vividly. One of the heart-thumping moments that makes playoff basketball fans into fans for life. Unfortunately, the Pistons ended up on the wrong side of that moment; the time that, according to Chauncey Billups, coach Larry Brown choked away Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
June 19, 2005. 9.4 seconds left in overtime, and the Pistons are up 95-93 over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. It looks like an inevitable 3-2 game lead for the Pistons. But then, Spurs’ Robert Horry sinks a 3-pointer after being left uncovered. Spurs win 96-95, going into a Game 6 up three games to two. They would ultimately win the series in seven games. Billups calls that loss the darkest day of his career, and he has some insight on who’s to blame for it.
“Here’s what’s crazy about that play,” Billups said. “So we’re in the huddle. Of course, me and everybody else is saying ‘no matter what, no 3s, no 3s, press up, a 2 don’t kill us, no 3s.’ We walk back on the floor. We get set up. I see Lindsey Hunter come to the desk. I’m like ‘perfect, we good. He gon get ‘Sheed. Tay’s gonna go to Horry. Lindsey’s gonna come in and take Manu. Imma stay on Tony. Rip is on Bowen, and then we got Ben right there for Timmy, we good.’
“Buzzer goes off and (Lindsey) says ‘Chauncey I got you.’ And I’m like ‘what the hell?’ I just didn’t understand it. So obviously, there’s no time, it’s time to win the game, worry about it later. For so many reasons, it’s just crazy, I didn’t have any issues defensively. Not only that, what happens if the rebound comes off and your free-throw shooter’s not in the game, I mean there’s just so many different … I really think, for real, I think Larry (Brown) just kinda choked in that moment. … I don’t know, that was crazy.”
Billups believes that if he had stayed in that night, they could have won Game 5. Then, carried that momentum forward and ultimately won the series. It’s not hard to believe; a winning team comes out with more life, so who’s to say they wouldn’t have?
What do you think, Nation? Is Billups right? Did Brown choke away Game 5 in 2005, and ultimately the series?