Eleven years ago today, emotions were riding high at ARCO Arena as the clock wound down on Game 3 for the Sacramento Kings of their opening series for the 2006 NBA Playoffs.
Owning a narrow 93-92 lead, the opposing San Antonio Spurs controlled the basketball as they tried to shave off as much as they could of the remaining 27 seconds. Spurs guard Manu Ginobili dribbled and dribbled as the seconds wasted away, while the uproarious Sacramento crowd chanted “defense”.
In the end, the home crowd’s chants were answered.
Mike Bibby stole the ball away from Ginobili and with the Kings suddenly thrust into a position to take the lead for good. With just mere seconds remaining in the game, Bibby found backcourt mate Kevin Martin making a beeline towards the basket and passed him the ball.
What happened next would cement Martin into Kings fans’ memories for years to come.
As Martin’s suspenseful shot rolled around the rim, ARCO Arena held its collective breath before exhaling into a frenzy when the ball found its way into the bottom of the net.
“It’s something where you just gotta throw it up and hope it goes in,” said Martin immediately following the victory. “It feels good, but it’s just the starting point though.”
No. 23 was right as he went on to be Sacramento’s leading scorer for the following three seasons. This moment, however, will continue to live on in Kings lore as one of the biggest clutch moments for any player in franchise history.