Balls Of Steel

A play for the ages.

Jim Rome
September 04, 2020 - 9:15 am
Toronto Raptors

USA Today


It’s been roughly 12 hours since I first saw it and I still cannot believe what I saw. I’ve watched it so many times and I still can’t believe it. It’s like a magic trick, like, did that really happen? How the hell did they do that? I know magicians don’t share their secrets: but share that secret: how the hell did you just do that??

And if you know, you know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about this pass from last night’s Raptors-Celtics game. Kemba Walker had the ball with less than ten seconds left in a tie game, dribbles through the entire Raptors defense and then does this David Blaine bleep to set up the bucket.

That is one of the best passes of the bubble. It gave Boston a 103-101 lead with half a second left. They had pretty much put the defending champs in that shallow grave and were piling on dirt.

And Toronto was on the verge of going from winning an NBA title to getting swept out in the second round.

Kyle Lowry was in-bounding with Tacko Fall guarding the in-bound. Lowry at 6 feet just getting the ball in-bounds past all 7 foot 5 of Fall would be an accomplishment. But what Lowry pulled off was absolutely mind-blowing.

Holy hell. Again, was that a magic trick? It’s like the ball just shows up in OG Anunoby's hands and OG gets off the perfect shot and they did all of that and beat the clock? Kemba Walker made one of the best passes in the history of the bubble, Kyle Lowry made one of the best passes in the history of the sport.

Seriously, given the moment, the context, how many passes have you ever seen that were better? Answer: none.

That is just jaw-dropping BLEEP. Like, I cannot wrap my head around it. It’s like seeing some sort of new technology for the first time. How did they do that?

What was more impossible, the shot or the pass? Yes. Tie. You will not see a more perfect pass in your life. Over Tacko Fall and dropping it down right into OG’s hands from the other side of the court. LIKE SOME CRAZY ASS SKIP PASS.

And then OG drains the shot to keep their season alive. How the hell did he even get shot to beat the block, much less make it, to beat the Celtics??? They were less than a second away from being down 0-3 and the series being over, before Lowry and OG hit their season with the paddles. It’s cliché. But bleeping heart of a champion. And the last thing you want to do is give any freaking life, at all, to the heart of the champion. Especially, they were technically dead already. But no one told that to O.G. and he knew it was good the second if left his hands.

Oh, and as long as we’re talking about perfection: there’s the pass, there’s the shot, and then there’s OG’s reaction. That was cold-blooded. Jay Wright saying “bang” when he won an NCAA title on a last-second shot thought OG was flat lining. Damian Lillard staring at the camera after eliminating OKC last year wants to know if dude even has a pulse. 

I’d love to think I’d act the same exact away if I did something like that. But I know I wouldn’t. I’d rip up my jersey, spring around the court, jump up on the scorer’s table, start beating my chest, screaming, ANYTHING IS POSSSSIBLE!!!!

But that’s why I’m me, and O.G. Is O.G….AND he’s not the only one either. Check out Lowry’s on-court interview after the game. He sounds like he just won a game in January by 10 points, not won a playoff game with one of the great passes in league history.

“I got a 7’12 muh- guy on me” is a great line. Great that he called Fall 7’12 and EVEN BETTER  that he started to say something else, and then audibled into “guy.”

And keep in mind, Lowry did all that after taking a Brad Wannamaker knee to the package earlier in the game. How does he explain surviving that shot TO THE JUNK, to keep on playing.

“Obviously, I’ve got balls of steel.” That is the truth and that also would be the perfect answer to how he made that pass. Hey, Kyle, with the season on the line and a 7 foot 12 guy in front of you, how were you able to connect with OG for that shot?

Facts only. He does have balls of steel. And he does deserve to start that sentence with “obviously.” Because it’s just the truth. "Obviously, I've got balls of steel."

But he’s not looking to take a victory lap about that pass, he’s putting it all on OG.

So how are the Celtics taking it? How are they taking the fact that they were half a second away from having the series won? Not that well, in fact, pretty horribly. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone has pissed as Jaylen Brown was and probably still is over letting that game get away: my dude’s head was to explode: quote:

"That was just a f---ing disgrace at the end of the game. That was just terrible. No way should we have lost that game. I take responsibility for that. Not just that play, but a lot of the plays before.”

DAMN, Jaylen, EEEASSSY. You’re up 2-1 in the series. You guys have been dominating the series and if it wasn’t for a miscommunication on the final play, you’re up 3-0. It took an absolute miracle to keep you from being up 3-0. Actually two miracles: the pass and the shot.

But Brown’s not having it. He’s not in the mood to tip his cap and keep moving. He’s calling it a bleeping disgrace. And I totally respect it.

Because he’s not criticizing the Raptors or downplaying what they did, he’s pointing out the miscommunication that he and Jayson Tatum had that freed up OG in the first place. He’s not denigrating the Raptors, he’s looking to won it: that’s Jocko Willink would call extreme ownership. I mean no one is owning anything the way Jaylen is owning that breakdown:

"Just a miscommunication [of] the coverage that we were in. That's all that really is. They made a remarkable play at the end. [Anunoby] snuck along the baseline, and we just gotta communicate better, that's it. As a unit, that can't happen. We were matched up, and OG snuck along the baseline, didn't recognize him early enough and he got a wide-open look. We gotta be better than that. We gotta communicate better. Me being four years in, I gotta be better. Can't give up the 3 at the end of the game. ... He made a remarkable shot, but still. It's a f---ing disgrace. Terrible. No excuse for it. At all. It was ridiculous. Can't take your foot off the gas at all. We gotta be ready to play Game 4."

That is an amazing post-game quote. It would be a lot easier to just say, they hit a great shot, on to the next game. But he is really hammering home the bleeping disgrace part of it.

J, relax. It’s not a bleeping disgrace. It happens. It was a bad moment in a bad moment, BUT nothing disgraceful about it. But I love THAT ARE ALL ABOUT IT. I love the standard he holds himself to and how badly he wants it. That’s also is the heart of a champion as well.

Knowing good and how tough these teams are, I cannot wait to see how they show up tomorrow. Balls of steel vs bleeping disgrace.