Dion Waiters Relives "The Play"
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Looking back on it now Thunder guard Dion Waiters admits “there was a lot goin’ on in that sequence man.”
‘That sequence’ he’s talking about is the same one everyone else has been talking about, his attempt to inbound the ball with 13.5 seconds to play Monday night and everything that happened afterwards.
“We had to pull it out, we had to find a way, just scrap, do whatever, just get the win.”
So Waiters did and what happened was a series of events veteran players and NBA officials say they can’t remember ever seeing before.
Manu Ginobili stepping out of bounds trying to guard Waiters throw-in attempt, Waiters pushing off on Ginobili and then three more fouls that weren’t called in quick succession all leading to a frantic, yet fantastic finish, at least for the Thunder.
“We got the win, that’s all I care about,” said Waiters whose phone was blowing up with tweets and text messages by the time he saw it in the Thunder lockerroom. Friends and followers were sending him videos and screenshots of Ginobili’s foot and his own elbow.
Now the NBA says the play was so rare the league will probably use it as a training tool for officials.Of course none of that matters to Waiters now and didn’t then either.
“I had to make a play, there’s a lot of emotions that go into it. We didn’t have no timeouts and a lot of things happened man.”
Waiters again said he was just happy to get the win and both happy and proud he and his teammates were able to come back with the correct fighting spirit to compete with the Spurs until the last second after their terrible showing in Saturday night’s Game 1.
“You have a game like we did (Saturday) if that don’t burn your soul, how bad we lost, you shouldn’t be in this league. I thought it was just a total embarrassment. But Game 2 we came out with a lot of energy, especially defensively, we was engaged and that’s what it’s gonna take against a team like (the Spurs).”
Waiters said he was trying to count down the seconds in his head as he tried to find an open man, “in those 13 seconds so many things happened that nobody really seen, but of course they’re gonna see that one thing that happened.”
That one thing...the forearm shiver, to use an old football term, that Waiters, the one time football player, used on Ginobili.
“So of course they’re gonna see that one particular play but you can’t control them type of things.”
So Waiters played on and found 6-11 Kevin Durant being guarded by 6-5 Danny Green.
“Everything was goin’ on and then I seen Kevin and he’s 6-11 and Green is what 6-5? I like my chances with Kev so I threw it up there and Green made a hell of a play.”
Green knocked the ball away from Durant and took off on a 3-on-1 fast break and then it was up to Steven Adams to save the game and maybe the series too.
“Man,” Waiters said shaking his head and thinking back on Adams’ single-handed defensive stand, “That was a hell of a job. He covered the whole half of the court. Got all the way into the paint and then was able to get back out and contest the shot, (Patty Mills’ corner 3) man, that was a hell of a job, that’s what it takes to win.”
Adams, the hero of the last handful of seconds, as usual took it all in stride, not at all impressed with what he’d done.
“I was just trying to make sure we didn’t give up any easy buckets, the whole team just pretty much ran back and we ended up on top,” he said.
The whole team got back eventually but for what seemed like an eternity Adams was like Davey Crockett standing alone on The Alamo wall watching General Santa Ana and his men charge forward.
“It was weird,” he admitted. “There was just a lot going on.”
And it got even weirder when a Spurs fan reached out and grabbed him, trying to prevent him from getting back to the action after he leapt trying to block that Mills 3-pointer.
“Yeah, mate, they’ve got some passionate fans down there,” he laughed.
For a couple of moments he wasn’t even sure exactly what happened right at the end.
“I was just trying to see if we’d won,” he said.
They had, thanks mostly to Adams in those last seconds and thanks to contributions from everyone else up and down the Thunder lineup in the 47 minutes and 50 seconds or so before Adams’ last stand.
“For him to be just everywhere, you can’t take that for granted,” Waiters marveled. “That’s what it takes. I appreciate everything everyone does for this team. And like I said, that was a hell of a win.”