There was one event that was talked about more than any other this weekend. It wasn’t the NCAA Elite Eight. 90 degree heat or even the return of Don Draper’s raging libido (although it finished a close second). The thing that made many grown men and women around the country transform into high school girls at a Katy Perry concert was the premiere of the film The Hunger Games.
For those of you who haven’t read the book because your idea of heavy reading is getting through a full Grantland article or cracking open a magazine — present company included — both the book and the film are about a post-apocalyptic America separated into 12 districts. Every year each district is represented by one individual in a televised fight to the death. The concept is interesting to say the least, although not completely original. It is similar to the 1980’s movie Running Man and Stephen King’s 1970’s novel The Long Walk.
But what if the idea were put into a sports context. Cue your inner Eminem… Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity to save your life who would you ask to capture it or let it slip away?
What if you had to choose one member of the Phoenix Suns, past or present, to take one shot with your life on the line? What if a more powerful ruling class than you got to choose who was guarding that player and where within the half-court line the shot had to be taken from? Which player would you choose?
Steve Nash is a tempting choice. He has been more clutch than driving a manual car in bumper-to-bumper traffic throughout his career in Phoenix. The problem is, would you trust him to make the shot against a bigger, more athletic and more physical guard? Same goes for his counterpart and mentor Kevin Johnson.
Rex Chapman made one of the craziest buzzer-beaters in Suns history with difficult defensive pressure against the Seattle Supersonics — you remember, that team in green and gold with Sasquatch as a mascot — in the 1997 playoffs. He’s another guy though that, depending on who was guarding him and where the shot was, you probably wouldn’t want your life in his hands. Walter Davis would most likely fall into this category too.
Shaquille O’Neal seems like a good choice on the surface. There wasn’t anyone in the league who could ever truly match up with his physicality. He was athletic and could overpower anyone. From 10 feet in your life would be safer in his hands than a Big Mac near a group of vegetarians. You’d be in trouble though if the higher power chose to have him take a shot from beyond the arc or, for that matter, from the free throw line (Hack-a-Shaq with a game on the line was nerve-racking. Imagine if your life was riding on it.)
Alvan Adams is similar to Shaq in the fact that his size and agility makes him a very intriguing option. He’s a better choice than the Big Shaqtus because he could hit free throws on a regular basis (78.8 percent for his career). His Achilles heel would be the three. He made two in his entire 12-year career and attempted a grand total of 15 of them. Not exactly what you want to hear if it could mean the difference between life and your last breath.
If it were my life on the line it would come down to Gar Heard, Dan Majerle and Charles Barkley.
Heard hit arguably the most clutch shot in NBA history. Heck, it is known as the ‘Shot Heard round the world.’ When your most heroic shot gets a nickname you’re in the discussion. Despite his big game credentials, his 6-foot-6 and 219-pound frame makes him susceptible to bigger defenders. Oh, and if Vegas were putting odds on you living or dying wouldn’t you want it to be better than 41 percent? Obviously, the answer is yes. Too bad that is what Gar shot for his career.
Dan Majerle would be a suitable choice. He hit plenty of game winners in his time in Phoenix. He could nail threes like they were an average man’s layup and he had the size to play against most defenders. The one downside was his overall shooting percentage. He only hit 43 percent of his shots in his career. Once again, not the kind of odds you want with it all on the line.
That leaves Barkley as the only answer. He has the size to bang with bigger defenders down low. He could step back and hit the three if needed and he shot over 54 percent from the field for his career (almost as good of a conversion rate as when Leonardo DiCaprio plays the field… OK maybe not). That and he hit more big shots in his career than the Kardashians do during a big weekend in Vegas.
Remember him standing between the circle and three-point line spinning the ball in his hands with seconds on the clock and starring down David Robinson in the 1993 playoffs? (If your answer is no, you better check out the YouTube video right now.)
While that is the obvious clutch moment that comes to Suns fans’ minds, there is one shot that also took place that season which would make me 100 percent confident that I’d live to die another day or at least to watch the Bond movie by that title again. It took place in the regular season against Portland at the Rose Garden. With :00.5 seconds left on the clock and the Suns down by one, they inbounded the ball from half court and it hit off the backboard. All in one motion Barkley caught the ball at his knees, flicked it into the air and made the shot off the glass. It was a crazier moment than Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift at the MTV Movie Awards. That’s why he’s the logical choice.
So if you went to go to see The Hunger Games over the weekend — it’s alright guys, we know you told your friends your significant other dragged you there — ponder the question, ‘If your life was on the line which Sun would you want taking the shot?’ Then share your answer. It’s something worth talking about.
Who would you choose?
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