On Fire – 4/4/14

We at On Fire have just witnessed the greatest basketball shot of all time. In the closing minutes of the Pacers-Pistons basketball game last night, Paul George displayed the quiet confidence, graceful elegance and cool-under-fire that we all know are necessary for a shot to be a great shot.

Coincidentally, these are the same elements that go into making a great GIF. And the GIF of this shot is probably the coolest thing your internet-video-loving On Fire correspondent has ever seen.

With the Pacers holding a 91-90 lead over the Pistons and 3:36 remaining in the game, the Pacers missed a lay-up, collected the offensive rebound and cleared the ball out to 23-year-old small forward Paul George.

George was standing perhaps 20 feet from the top of the three-point line and only six feet from the half-court line, with no defenders or teammates within 15 feet of him.

A teammate, whom your eagle-eyed On Fire correspondent has tentatively identified as George Hill (based on the fact that the number on his jersey kind of looks like a three, Wikipedia says #3 on the Pacers in George Hill and the name on the back of his jersey looks like it has four letters in it) began to creep toward George to offer him his assistance.

But George is not a man who needs help. He holds up a calm and reassuring hand, instructing Hill to halt. Then he rears back, and from what must be almost 40 feet away and with 22 seconds left on the shot clock, shoots the ball.

The ball travels through the air in a perfect parabola and hits nothing but net. Having just sunk the greatest shot of all time, George does not react at all. He simply watches as the net snaps up and makes a satisfying swooshing sound.

Let us break down for a second why this shot was so amazing. First of all, it was so unnecessary. After all, there were 22 seconds left on the shot clock. It is one thing to take an almost half-court shot as the shot clock ticks down to 0. But it is a whole other thing to do so when you have over 20 seconds left to figure out something better to do. It was completely gratuitous. And that is why it was awesome.

Second, the game was extremely close. We at On Fire routinely applaud those who take gratuitous actions in situations that mean little or nothing. But George took his crazy shot at the end of the fourth quarter in a one-point game!

Furthermore, the Pacers are the second seed in the Eastern Conference and within striking distance of becoming the first seed. These final games of the season are crucial in their quest to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The fact that, in such an urgent situation, George was willing to take this shot displays his supreme confidence in himself.

He was not taking this shot just for shits and giggles. He was taking this shot because he truly believed that him doing so was in the best interest of his team — he was doing what he thought it took to win.

And he knew that he was the only man for this job. He did not need or want any help. When Mr. Hill came in to assist him, George held up a hand, instructing Hill to halt. This is the kind of quiet confidence that we at On Fire like to see. This is swag. This is grace. This is cool-under-fire.

And finally, his reaction! Or lack thereof, actually.

He does not pump his fist in triumph, does not jump up and down and does not pull his shirt up above his head and run around screaming. He just stands there calmly, knowing full well that he has done something awesome.

Closer inspection of video (and unmuting the computer, so your keen On Fire correspondent could hear the commentary of the announcers) revealed that the shot clock had been improperly reset after the Pacers’ missed lay-up.

Though there were a full 22 seconds left on it when George took his shot, the clock showed only two seconds left.

If anything, this makes George’s shot all the greater. He was not showing off. He was putting the team on his back.

We at On Fire like to put the team on our back as well. We also enjoy playing paper basketball when we are supposed to be working.

Anyone who is also interested in playing basketball should apply for the On Fire internship this summer!