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Filling The Void: Searching for Willie Anderson (‘s shot)

Ever have a sports memory you know is true turn out to be incorrect? It’s not super fun!

Filling The Void: Searching for Willie Anderson (‘s shot)

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Having a hard time with this whole “social distancing” thing? Yeah – us too. Especially when it comes to the lack of sports. So, we here at The Turf thought we’d offer a way to help ease the pain and suffering. While we may not have any of the current sports leagues to watch live, there is PLENTY of archive footage available at our fingertips. We’ve scoured the internet and assembled some of the most iconic, noteworthy, and remarkable sporting events we could find. We also found some mundane, run of the mill matches and contests, that seemed banal at first watch. However, at this point, we’ll take anything that resembles sports, right? Each day, we’ll feature one of the contests and provide you a link where you can relive the glory, exhilaration, and thrill from the comfort of your couch.

The Big Ones You Can’t Forget

I have a lot of sports memories. Some of them are big moments and I remember them like they were yesterday. My memory of Aaron Boone hitting the winning HR off Tim Wakefield in Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS is as clear as day.

I was sitting in one of those foldable camping chairs in my dorm room, because you know, college. I can hear the noise coming through the wall from my Yankees fan friend next door and actually hung my head in my hands in defeat like they do in the movies.

Next, I got up, got in the elevator, and went down 14 floors so I could go for a walk around the Syracuse campus in a catatonic haze. Oddly enough, David Tyree was also at Syracuse then and could have come up to me and said, “You think this is bad? I am going to make you feel 10 times worse in a few years!”

When I returned to the dorm (Lawrinson, if you’re curious), everyone was waiting outside. I found out this was because someone pulled the fire alarm but at first it felt like a macabre surprise party celebrating my despair.

I can’t forget these details.

The Little Moments that Stick

Other sports memories might not be as clear, but there are certain parts I always look back on. One of these is a regular season game between the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. My father recorded this game for me because I was eight and it was past my bedtime.

I watched it on Saturday morning, rooting for the Spurs because I loved David Robinson and they were the underdogs vs. the defending back-to-back champs with the best player of all-time, Michael Jordan. The Bulls were up big early, but the Spurs kept chipping away. The Spurs eventually caught up and won, with the play I most remember being a Willie Anderson three that hit the back of the rim, went straight up and came down through the hoop.

I think about this game every so often, but it came to mind again with “The Last Dance” documentary on Jordan. Coupling this with the “Filling The Void” series we’re doing here and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to re-watch this classic.

Or so I thought…

The Journey

First, huge thanks to our EIC, Justin. He encouraged the hell out of me with this process and found me several YouTube videos to find this game.

This issue with writing a FTV was I didn’t know enough about the game. And the Bulls and Spurs play each other twice a year!

I focused on what I knew for sure. The Spurs made a comeback to win and Willie Anderson played.

January 3rd, 1991 was an option, but I didn’t think I would have been this into a Bull-Spurs game if I was six. Also, I remember the mystique of the Bulls and their success being a thing. It couldn’t have been before their first title.

Then I looked at April 5th, 1991. The age thing was again a factor, but the Spurs also led by 7 at halftime and 17 at the end of the 3rd. Couldn’t be it.

There was January 28th, 1992 but the Spurs were winning throughout the first half in this one too.

This left March 5th, 1993.

A game Michael Jordan did not play in.

The Hard Truth

The whole game is worth watching but my “research” focused on watching this highlights clip.

Truth be told, I was hoping this wasn’t the game. A huge part of my love of this game was about how the Spurs came back against Michael Jordan. Taking him out of the picture minimizes what the Spurs accomplished here to just being a nice road win. Who cares? I don’t live in San Antonio.

As I watched the 11 minute highlight reel waiting for confirmation I hoped wouldn’t come, one thing stood out to me. Dale Ellis was really good in this game (team-high 29 points) and I had no recollection of that at all. Also, the highlights make it seem like he shot them back into it from downtown. In reality, he went 2 of 3 from three and those were the only three’s the Spurs took. “It was a different game back then!”

Sadly, at 10:21 of the video it happened.

Willie Anderson catches a pass and shoots a jumper that bounces straight up off the far side of the rim, then bounces off the back of the rim straight up and through the hoop.

At least the shot was better than I remembered.

What Else Was Wrong

To recap, here are a few things that I didn’t remember or just got wrong in my memory of this game.

  • Michael Jordan did not play
  • The game was in Chicago (I remembered the Spurs wearing their homes whites)
  • Willie Anderson shoots from inside the three-point line and shoots from the bottom of the screen, not the top
  • Dale Ellis was in this game and was a key part of the comeback
  • The game was on TNT, I thought it was TBS (did they ever have basketball, or just Braves games?)

I was right the Spurs made a comeback (down 18 after the first), Willie Anderson’s shot happened, and the game was played on a Friday night. So, yay?

Was it Worth It?

This is the key question. In the name of content, I dug into a cherished memory and revealed several imperfections. This memory will never be in the same and it’s not hyperbole to say this is quite disheartening.

Am I happy I did this? Nope!

Hope you enjoyed reading it!

Terry is from Massachusetts and is a passionate fan of the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins. He also will admit he only pays attention to Syracuse basketball when they're good. If there's a Twitter trade rumor even remotely associated with one of his teams, he's likely fallen for it. Finally, he believes 100% that if the Celtics had beaten the Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals they would have swept the Thunder in the Finals.

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