When you think about the Arizona Wildcats, you think about a lot of people. It might take a while to get to Sean Elliott.
When you think about the San Antonio Spurs, you think about David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich. You don’t think about Sean Elliott that way.
But he was a key factor for both teams. At Arizona, he was the hometown star and Lute Olson’s first great player on his first great UofA team, and with San Antonio, he became a brilliant small forward and helped start a legendary Spurs dynasty.
This is perhaps his greatest play of his entire baseball life. It came on Memorial Day in 1999 in the Western Conference Finals and became known as the Memorial Day Miracle. It even has a Wikipedia page of its own. It’s really an amazing shot for anyone to hit.
It wasn’t a buzzer beater. San Antonio was down one to Portland with 12 seconds to play. Elliott got the ball with :12 left and took a three as Rasheed Wallace closed in. He nailed it.
Then the Trailblazers had plenty of time but couldn’t convert.
The Spurs would go on to beat the New York Knicks in the championship series, 4-1.
What’s even more impressive is that Elliott played with a serious kidney condition that would require a transplant less than three months later.
By the way, some cool cameos here: first, new Georgia Tech coach Damon Stoudamire. Second, Mike Dunleavy, Sr., is coaching Portland. Third, Maryland great Walt Williams takes a (futile) shot near the end. And fourth, Elliott’s former Arizona teammate and current Golden State coach Steve Kerr played in this one.
Incidentally, with nine rings - five as a player and four as a coach - Kerr is pushing Bill Russell and Phil Jackson for most total championships, whether as player or coach.