All it took was .4 seconds. In four tenths of a second, the Western Conference semifinals game on May 13, 2004 turned into Derek Fisher's game.
Fractions of a second before Fisher's historic heave, it looked like Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals would be remembered for Tim Duncan's improbable last-second shot that appeared to seal a win for the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs had trailed, 72-71, with 5.4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter when Duncan received a pass just inside the three-point arc. With Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal all over him, Duncan moved to his left toward the top of the key. With Shaq following him every step of the way, Duncan launched an off-balanced fadeaway shot over the outstretched arms of the Diesel. As Duncan fell down, the ball fell through the net. Even Duncan appeared surprised. The AT&T Center erupted. Duncan's teammates jumped on top of him. The Lakers looked on in disbelief.
Anyone looking up at the clock would have noticed that the game wasn't quite over: There were still 0.4 seconds showing on the clock. With the Lakers inbounding the ball at half court, the Spurs opted to double-team Kobe Bryant. That allowed Fisher to get open on the left wing, catch the pass and quickly hoist up a turnaround jumper. Swish. The replay showed Fisher just got the shot off in time and that it just barely arced over the outstretched arm of then-second-year player Manu Ginobili. When it dropped, the Spurs were the ones looking on in disbelief while the Lakers celebrated.
Ten years later, Fisher is back playing in the Western Conference semifinals with the Oklahoma City Thunder at age 39. With teammates like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Fisher won't likely be called to replicate his heroics any time soon. Of course, he wasn't the likeliest hero in 2004 with teammates like Shaq and Kobe.