Austin Rivers Buzzer Beater
February 9, 2012 by staff
Austin Rivers Buzzer Beater, Doc Rivers, NBA coach, is unflappable when his team has the ball down two with the clock ticking toward zero. Doc Rivers, Duke basketball dad, is a mess. “It’s tougher as a parent,” Rivers said. “As a coach, at least you’re involved. As a parent, you’re just sitting there, and you’re scared the whole game.”
That fear reached its crescendo Wednesday when Rivers’ son, Blue Devils freshman guard Austin Rivers, emerged from behind a Mason Plumlee screen with five seconds remaining and the Blue Devils trailing by two. Rivers dribbled to the right wing.
North Carolina seven-footer Tyler Zeller stayed with Rivers. Plumlee rolled toward the basket, taking Tar Heels guard Reggie Bullock with him.
Rivers froze Zeller with a hesitation dribble. The big man’s hands remained by his side. Behind Duke’s bench, the elder Rivers hyperventilated. “I was going crazy,” Doc Rivers said. “I was thinking, ‘We’ve got to go here soon, son.’”
When Austin Rivers glanced up, he saw two-point-something on the clock. On the baseline, Seth Curry screamed for Rivers to shoot. Time to go, son. “You just read the play,” Austin Rivers said. “You don’t predetermine anything. … The shot was there. I just took it.”
The ball has just cleared Zeller’s outstretched right hand. More than 21,000 sets of eyes tracked the ball in flight. It felt perfect leaving Rivers’ hand. It looked perfect as it crested. Still… “You just never know,” Austin Rivers said. “Anything can happen.” The ball spun toward the rim …
“I swear, the ball was in the air for like 10 minutes,” he said. “When it went in, my heart jumped. It was the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”
First came the mass gasp. Then came the silence. As the scoreboard clicked to its final tally — Duke 85, North Carolina 84 — the only sounds in the Dean Dome came from the Duke players, who piled atop Rivers on the opposite end of the court, and from the tiny clutch of Duke family members seated behind the Blue Devils’ bench. Doc Rivers hugged his daughter, Callie, as she screamed.
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