I was at the Bulls vs. Knicks game last night. What a great ending: the perfect shot in the last second. Here is the recap of the last minute:
The Bulls were ahead 102-99 after Songaila hit two free throws with 51.1 seconds left in overtime. Crawford went 2-of-3 from the line after being fouled by Andres Nocioni to make it a one-point game. After Nocioni converted two foul shots with 8.3 seconds left, Crawford’s 3 tied it at 104.
There were 4.6 seconds left. Gordon saved the day by scoring in the last second (tenth of a second to be precise). It was awesome.
All this made me wonder: why do we bother – those of us who do:) – watching the first three quarters of basketball games? So much happens in the last few minutes almost regardless of what happened up until then. This is a layperson’s view and I certainly don’t have the stats to back this up, but it seems to me that this is quite often the case. Sure, we watch the game, because of the sheer enjoyment of the sport. Still, it seems that few sports competitions have as much riding on such a tiny last segment of the game as basketball.
So do we watch to figure out the optimal last-minute strategy? The Bulls did a horrible job with free throws last night so it was an especially good bet to foul them in the last few seconds. But would there have been a different strategy to retrieve the ball if they had not been doing so poorly on that front? I’m not saying that we have to be rational about our sports-viewing habits, but sitting through an entire basketball game seems particularly irrational.
UPDATE: I realize something out-of-the-ordinary happened at this game that I didn’t even really mention: the fact that one of the Knicks players ran into the stands. Frankly, from where I was sitting, this was easy to miss. There was some commotion at some point and then we saw a player leave the field, but it was not clear what had happened until I got home and checked the news.