Skip to main content

"ALL HE HAD TO DO WAS MAKE A FREE THROW" Nick Anderson's charity-stripe choke in Game 1 of the '95 Finals

nick-anderson

With 8.5 seconds left on the clock, Robert Horry fouled Nick Anderson, sending the Magic guard to the line. With Orlando having a three-point lead, a 70 percent free-throw shooter only had to make one, and the Finals opener would've been sealed.

I wasn't really worried. I was like, 'Nick will make one or two, I'm sure.'

Penny Hardaway, ESPN

Anderson was short on his first attempt, prompting him to quickly spin around and walk into the backcourt in frustration. But confidence was still there, at least that's what the whole chest-pounding and hand-clapping antics were saying. Nick went back to the line, and once again went through his usual free-throw routine. But once again, his shot was short. However, Orlando got a break.

Anderson grabbed his own rebound and drew another foul, this time on Clyde Draxler. So after missing two shots from the charity stripe, Nick was sent back to the line with 7.7 seconds left, after another hype-up fest while sitting on the hardwood of Orlando Arena. And while the rebound itself could've been the hustle play that gets Anderson's morale up, he still had to go face to face with his arch-nemesis - the 15 ft line.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

At this point, the whole arena was probably thinking the same, 'there's no way he doesn't at least make one.' Attempt No. 3 — Another miss by Nick Anderson. The excitement level in the arena flattened out, as 'Nick will make one or two' turned into 'Nick has to make one.' And while it seemed like Anderson was being able to keep his cool, something gave him away.

He misses the third one, and then he starts smiling. You know when a guy starts smiling, he's a little tight.

Mario Elie, ESPN

And he was tight, especially on that fourth one. By that point, the pressure was through the roof, and the Magic guard just couldn't overcome it. His fourth attempt hit the back iron, as Anderson completed a poker of missed free throws with less than 10 seconds left on the game clock. And the worst part is, that ended up costing Orlando a game.

The Rockets got the rebound, and after a timeout called by Rudy Tomjanovich, Kenny 'The Jet' Smith hit a three on the other end, forcing the game into overtime. With 5.5 seconds left in OT, Dennis Scott tied the game at 118, but a tip-in by Hakeem Olajuwon had Houston stealing Game 1 of the Finals. They eventually went on to sweep Orlando, as they became back-to-back champions, feeding off the momentum gained by stealing Game 1 of the series. And they have Nick Anderson to thank for it.

'All he had to do was make a free throw.'

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan’s secret tattoo and the meaning behind it revealed

It's barely visible and not something MJ liked to talk about.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan

Zach Snyder on directing Michael Jordan in "Playground" — “He’s a natural.”

One went on to make Space Jam, the other 300, Justice League, Army of the Dead, Man of Steel, Watchmen, and Dawn of the Dead. Two great movie careers, starting in 1990.

Miami Heat forward LeBron James and team president Pat Riley

The moment Pat Riley should've known LeBron James would one day leave Miami

Upon his arrival to Miami, LeBron made a request that should've let Riley know a new era was coming.

Dennis Rodman

How Dennis Rodman's gay bar double-date led to the Chicago Bulls winning the 1996 NBA Championship

Remember Jack Haley? It turns out he was crucial for the Bulls winning in 1996 because he was “the only person who speaks fluent Rodman,” and knew how to convince Dennis not to quit the team before Game 6 of the Finals.

Detroit Pistons center Bill Laimbeer and guard Isiah Thomas

“I don't need to take that s**t!” — when Isiah Thomas broke his hand after punching Bill Laimbeer

Isiah Thomas punched Bill Laimbeer so hard he broke his hand during one of Detroit Pistons' practices.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan

“I don’t know if I could’ve survived in this Twitter (era)” — Michael Jordan on social media and cancel culture

There's no hand-checking and hard fouls in 2022. But there's Twitter, political correctness and almost no privacy whatsoever.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Remember when KCP played with an ankle monitor?

In terms of serving time, continuing to play games while in prison is not that bad.

jason-williams-jordan-lebron-min

Jason Williams shares who is the GOAT between Michael Jordan and LeBron James

The "White Chocolate" thinks one guy is the GOAT, while the other one would be his pick if he has a must-win game.