It may be damn near impossible to remember, but there was a time when the San Antonio Spurs were a title-less franchise just trying to claw their way to legitimacy. By 1999, they had all the pieces in place: their “Twin Towers,” future Hall of Famer David Robinson and third-year man (and possible robot) Tim Duncan, as well as a strong supporting cast made up of veterans like Mario Elie, Steve Kerr, Avery Johnson, and Sean Elliott. In Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers, it would be the unlikely Elliott who would forever stamp his name in Spurs lore.
While nobody knew it at the time, Elliott probably should not have even been playing in this game. After the season he would need a kidney transplant, and would only play 71 games over the next two seasons before retiring in 2001. Nevertheless, Elliott was absolutely on fire on May 31, 1999, having hit five of six three-point attempts for a total of 19 points. The same could not be said for the rest of his team, however; the Spurs had struggled with their shooting (45.7 percent) and played sloppily (16 turnovers) throughout the game, and indeed had not even held a lead all day.
Trailing by two with 12 seconds to go, coach Gregg Popovich drew up a play that would not only win the Spurs the game, but would indeed propel them to a sweep over the Blazers and a five-game romp over the New York Knicks to win their first NBA title. Here’s a look at that famous sequence, a Frame-by-Frame Breakdown of the Memorial Day Miracle.