One of the Most Incredible Buzzer-Beaters in NBA History Happened Tuesday and It Is Going to Inspire a Lot of Future Airballs

The Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard releases a 37-foot three-pointer over the Thunder's Paul George against a backdrop of intensely expectant fans.
This shot went in.
Jaime Valdez/USA Today Sports/Reuters

How? How is this possible?

That is Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers shooting a 37-foot 3-pointer over one of the NBA’s best defenders (the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Paul George) and directly into the absolute bottom of the bucket to win an NBA playoff series as time expired.

Lillard followed it up with the most devastating possible gesture toward disputatious Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, with whom he has a long-running beef.


Lillard calmly waves toward Westbrook while walking away from the spot of his shot.
Jamie Valdez/USA Today Sports/Reuters


A bearded fan in a red Blazers jacket spreads his arms serenely behind Lillard.
Jamie Valdez/USA Today Sports/Reuters


A fan in a suit behind Lillard stares with his eyes wide open in disbelief.
Jamie Valdez/USA Today Sports/Reuters

Truly, photographer Jamie Valdez was the only person in America who took as much advantage of an opportunity as Damian Lillard did on Tuesday night.

A bearded fan in a yellow shirt embraces a friend with a look of what can only be described as ecstatic spiritual fulfillment.
Jamie Valdez/USA Today Sports/Reuters

Now for the bad news. As ESPN stats man Kirk Goldsberry points out, hyper-elite modern sharpshooters like Lillard, Steph Curry, and Trae Young are actually good enough at shooting from 30-plus feet that such shots, for them, are not outlandishly inefficient. However, other basketball players are not Damian Lillard and Steph Curry, and all of those players are going to want to make a shot as cool as the one Lillard made on Tuesday, and that means there are going to be a lot of attempted buzzer-beaters that look like this legendary shot by erstwhile Knicks swingman Alexey Shved.

I’m sorry I ended this post about great basketball by making you watch the Knicks. Congratulations again to Damian Lillard!