Tony Parker Beats Clock in Game 1 Final Seconds with Incredible Off-Balance Shot

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 7, 2013

LeBron James says he's still haunted by the 2007 NBA Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

But I'm not sure anything could give him more nightmares than Tony Parker's dagger to close out San Antonio's 92-88 win over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the 2013 championship series.

With the chance to give his club a commanding four-point lead in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, Parker knew it wouldn't be easy. He crossed half court and was face-to-face with James, a 6'8", 240-pound monster of a man with with five straight first-team All-Defense selections.

But that path to the basket grew increasingly easier as a series of screens saw James switched out for Mike Miller, then Miller swapped out for Bosh.

With Bosh in his way, Parker started his attack with a strong drive down the right side of the lane. Dwyane Wade's attempted steal stalled the penetration enough to allow James to get back on Parker. He nearly lost his dribble, dropped one knee on the hardwood to recover, ducked underneath a leaping James and miraculously banked in the decisive jumper:

TONY PARKER. CLUTCH. What a shot! #SCtop10

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 7, 2013

The play was brilliant in its design, ended brilliantly in its execution and was just the latest example of great offense trumping good defense:

Can't defend better. Can't make a better play than Parker just did. Wow.

— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 7, 2013

The play looked destined for the historic highlight reels. If the basket counted, that is:

Was the ball out of his hand, tho? Man, this game.

— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) June 7, 2013

Some said it was clearly good:

He got that off.

— Sean Highkin (@shighkinNBA) June 7, 2013

Others weren't so sure:

i dont think he got it off in time

— Jason McIntyre (@TheBigLead) June 7, 2013

While the officials were gathering around the replay monitor, analysts were scrambling for the closest rule book:

Does the light have to be all the way on?

— RealGM (@RealGM) June 7, 2013

Others suggested the play was so close that perhaps an impromptu rule change was in order:

Split the difference. Give him one point.

— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) June 7, 2013

Parker knew he had cut it close:

Tony Parker on possession: "It felt like it took forever."

— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 7, 2013

James said the possession felt like an eternity:

LeBron James on that Tony Parker shot at the end of the game: "That was the longest 24 seconds that I've been a part of."

— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 7, 2013

But Parker didn't have time to worry about the dwindling clock, not before first securing possession:

"It was a crazy play. I thought I lost the ball 3 or 4 times." Tony Parker on his last shot. twitter.com/ESPNNBA/status…

— The NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 7, 2013

After a lengthy review, the call on the floor (basket good) was upheld and Parker's Spurs had delivered the first blow in this seven-game series:

GAME. SET. CROISSANT.

— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) June 7, 2013

On basketball's biggest stage, in front of a hostile opposing crowd, Parker managed to turn the NBA Finals into a Harlem Globetrotters exhibition:

Hell of a play by Curly Neal Parker.

— Jim Trotter (@SI_JimTrotter) June 7, 2013

It's good to be lucky, but even better to balance that fortune with a tremendously high skill level. And James said after the game that despite some bumps in the road, that's exactly what Parker was able to do:

"Tony did everything wrong then did everything right on the same possession." - LeBron James on Parker's last shot. twitter.com/ESPNNBA/status…

— The NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 7, 2013

The talk leading up to this game was all about how the Spurs weren't facing the same James this time around. Well, James might not be facing the same Parker either.

And that's saying something considering that Parker was named 2007 Finals MVP.