We’ve all seen or experienced a buzzer beater: one of those improbable basketball shots that sails into the hoop just as the game ends, all of a sudden reversing the final score that the crowd had already accepted – bringing the game to a tie or allowing the underdog to take the win.
All buzzer beaters are startling, exciting and either glorious or devastating, depending on the team you are routing for. Apart from these qualities, though, not every buzzer beater is one in the same.
Here are the best forms of buzzer beaters.
The Average Game-Winner
The Game-Winner: a shot that, in the normal context of the game, would be impressive as any other. But because it’s the last shot of the game and will decide who wins or loses based on whether or not it goes in, it transcends the other shots. It’s the most important moment on the court. In this case, a middle-schooler receives the inbounds pass and quickly advances the ball up the court while maintaining possession — not an easy feat in and of itself. Then he hits a running heave from behind the three-point line that’s a difficult shot regardless of when it comes in the game. And you don’t need to know the score: it’s pretty clear it was a game-winner based on the rejoicing of everyone on his team.
The Baseball Shot
The Baseball Shot is a shot that has to be thrown overhand because you’re so far away, or because you’re in third grade like the kid in this video and you can barely hit a regular shot as is. This buzzer beater is made all the more impressive bythe fact that the kid taking the shot before him doesn’t even get the ball above the rim. Our shooter doesn’t seem to have much of a problem: he just winds up, hurls it toward the hoop and the bank happens to be open. Next time you’re at a basketball court, try and replicate this shot — and get back to us on your success.
The nature of the Full-Courter should be relatively clear based on its name: it’s when you shoot all the way — from baseline to baseline, more or less. Basketball courts are surprisingly large, and the strength it takes to hurl a ball from one end to the other with the accuracy needed to even hit the backboard, much less the rim, is incredible. In this case, the shooter, who appears to be very young, doesn’t even need the backboard, managing to swish the ball without making any other contact. He opts for the baseball technique, too, which guarantees less accuracy than the two-handed heave that most professional players will use when they need a shot of this type. An achievement like this brings new meaning to the phrase “Nothing but net.”
The Controversial Basket
Because the buzzer beater generally has so much riding on it in terms of the game, and because the shots are often not the type of shots you usually see in the course of a regular game, sometimes they raise a little bit of disagreement over whether they’re legal and whether they should count. In some cases, there’s the question of whether the shot was taken before the buzzer sounded. In professional and college basketball, they have instant replay to solve that, but the technology isn’t quite as advanced in elementary, middle-school and most high-school basketball programs. In the case of this video, though, the ball goes through the hoop in a way that balls very rarely go through hoops — bouncing off the rim high above the backboard and then amazingly sliding down part of the apparatus holding the hoop up. Unfortunately, the ref didn’t rule it a basket, which was probably the right call. But it’s sure sweet to watch.
The Trick Shot
This is the rarest of the five types of buzzer beaters, because there’s usually way too much on the line to try something unconventional or flashy. But in some cases, the buzzer beater comes at the end of a quarter when a team is already ahead, and so it doesn’t matter as much as it usually might. In those situations, crazy things can happen. This kid gets pinned against the sidelines, and with the time running down, no way out, he just hurls the ball backward over his head. No look at the basket; no real idea where anything is. Somehow, inexplicably, it goes in. While this might not be the most pivotal or important of the shots ever taken, it’s crazy, seemingly impossible moments like this that make sports so great.