Issue 9: Celebrating Game Winning Shots: A How-To

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Few things in sports are as exciting as a game-winning shot. Heck, even just beating the buzzer can be a fun time.

A quick story: During a game at an opposing high school, I once made a half-court shot as the clock expired, briefly silencing the crowd. After a couple of seconds, they realized their team had still won by 11 points, yet it was a great feeling of power.

However, a game-winner is the true jackpot. And yes, there’s a degree of difficulty involved in making a tough shot in a clutch moment.

But what transforms that moment from great to legendary? The celebration.

Here are four different types of celebrations and an example of each.

Note: As of the writing of this email, we’re still practicing social distancing techniques. Perfect these celebrations at home so you can flawlessly display them when it’s safe to play with other people again.

The Runaway

More commonly seen in college basketball games, but the premise is simple. When you make the shot, you simply run away from everyone.

Your teammates will do their best to catch you, and it’s hard to beat the exhilaration of the thrill of the chase. When they finally do catch up to you (unless you’re the fastest person alive or they simply don’t care enough to run you down), everyone just kind of falls into a big dogpile, and there’s a lot of yelling. Magical.

A notable example of this moment came during the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Michigan was on the verge of making a crazy comeback, and freshman Jordan Poole launched a three-pointer just before the buzzer sounded.

The ball fell through the hoop, and Michigan was on its way to the Sweet 16.

Poole’s reaction? Start a wild goose chase with his teammates. It was perfection.

The Go Limp

Sometimes you’re so in awe of what you just accomplished that your body literally cannot take it anymore.

In those cases, it’s best to simply let yourself go limp and ooze into a puddle onto the floor.

Alternatives of this include the “I Can’t Feel My Face” and the “These Hands Did What?!” which involve you frantically touching your face and horrifyingly staring at your hands like you were just sentenced to 72 straight hours of watching The Big Bang Theory, respectively.

Here’s Phoenix’s Devin Booker pulling off the Go Limp after making an impressive game-winner during the NBA Bubble.

The Scorer’s Table

This one is a little harder to pull off at the park, primarily because most parks don’t have a scorer’s table.

Luckily, most parks do have benches, and for the purposes of this celebration, that’s pretty much the same thing.

Former Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade made a ridiculous shot to win a game against the then-defending champion Golden State Warriors — the ball slips out of his hands and he almost slaps it toward the basket, like he was setting a volleyball.

Knowing he was wearing the extra stylish Miami Vice uniforms, Wade made sure the crowd got a good look at him by leaping onto the scorer’s table. Bonus points for performing The Runaway before his jump.

The Wave Goodbye

Often in basketball games, if a player fouls out or gets ejected, the speakers will start playing a “dismissal” song, like Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack” or Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”

This celebration captures the spirit of those songs but delivers the message in a much more personal way. And you’re not waving goodbye because someone fouled out, it’s because they’re leaving the court.

Damian Lillard perfected this in the Portland Trail Blazers’ 118-115 series-clinching victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2019 playoffs.

Lillard dribbled down the clock, took a step back, launched a three, the buzzer sounded, the ball went through the hoop, and Lillard waved at the Thunder’s bench.

The crowd, as you would expect, went nuts. Watch in dramatic slow motion below.

The ideal time to do this is after you make a shot that results in the other team no longer being able to play. In pickup games where there are more than 10 people hanging around, that usually means the team that just lost has to wait at least another game before they can play again.

You can also use this move as a general wave when you’re done for the day.

That’s all ’til next time. Thanks for reading! 👋