On This Date: Bibby Hits ‘The Shot’
18 years ago today, Mike Bibby hit the biggest shot in Sacramento Kings history
Every Kings fan remembers.
Trailing the dreaded Los Angeles Lakers 91-90 in Game 5 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, the Sacramento Kings were 11.4 seconds away from moving one game closer to elimination.
Almost one game removed from the heartbreak of Game 4, Sacramento found themselves with their backs firmly planted against the wall as Mike Bibby readied himself to inbound the ball on the baseline. Having just grabbed a pivotal rebound to give Sacramento possession, Bibby was looking to add on to his 20-point night in a big way.
In one of the most memorable and controversial series in NBA history, the fourth quarter of Game 5 was a back-and-forth battle that had three ties and seven lead changes.
Neither team owned a lead bigger than three for the entire duration of the period.
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal had combined to score 58 points for the Lakers as Sacramento found themselves staring a 3-2 series deficit in the face. ARCO Arena, a place known for its “Arco Thunder”, was sold out with 17,317 crazed fans that were waiting on the edges of their seats as Bibby was handed the ball to inbound.
Chris Webber received the inbound pass and quickly dished the ball back to a cutting Bibby who then broke free from Lakers guard Derek Fisher, thanks to a screen by Webber. Bibby curled around the screen and set his eyes on the basket.
He stopped. He popped. He delivered.
Broadcaster Marv Albert’s call on TV was drowned out by a deafening roar from the sell-out crowd as Bibby joined in with the rest of ARCO Arena and let out a scream of his own. Sacramento took a 92-91 lead with 8.2 seconds remaining as all eyes shifted to Kobe Bryant. Bryant’s game winning attempt rimmed out as ARCO Arena broke out into pandemonium, with the Kings moved to within one game of an NBA Finals berth.
May 28, 2002 will live on as one of the greatest days in the history of the Sacramento Kings franchise. The small-market Kings had the defending champion Lakers on the ropes, and Mike Bibby had put the Kings one punch away from a knockout victory.
“The Shot” would end up being the high-point for the Kings in the Conference Finals, however. Game 6 may very well be the most controversial game in NBA history. Sacramento struggled from the line and in crunch time during Game 7. The Kings would fall in seven games as the Lakers would go on to defeat the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals.
No matter the outcome, “The Shot” remains.
With optimism and loads of potential forming around the current Sacramento Kings, moments like these from 18 years ago could be coming in the very near future.
Maybe sooner than we think.