Toronto Raptors: What if Kyle Lowry’s championship-winning shot had gone in?

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Kyle Lowry (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

Where does Lowry’s shot rank in NBA history?

Some of the NBA’s most iconic shots ever include:

  • Jordan’s aforementioned shot in Utah
  • Ray Allen’s three-pointer to tie Game 6 of the 2013 Finals
  • Jordan’s buzzer-beater to win a 1989 first-round series vs. Cleveland (followed by his unforgettable jumping celebration and fist pump)
  • Jerry West’s 60-foot heave to tie Game 3 of the 1970 Finals, which would’ve won the game if there’d been a three-point line
  • Kyrie Irving‘s go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute of Game 7 of the 2016 Finals against Golden State

Amazingly, the 2019 NBA playoffs included two series-winning buzzer-beaters: Leonard’s Game 7 shot to beat the Philadelphia 76ers and Damian Lillard’s deep three to beat Oklahoma City. It’s hard to put those shots into historical perspective after such a short time, but they joined Jordan’s shot in Cleveland as the only three series-winning buzzer-beaters ever. Those two bring the count of iconic shots to seven.

A championship-winning buzzer-beater would have to top the latter five shots. Yes, it wasn’t a Game 7, but it would’ve won a freaking NBA title.

When the series headed back to Oracle for Game 6, many believed that the Warriors would tie it up. After all, it would be their final game in Oakland, with the crowd ready to go bonkers at every chance.

Toronto shouldn’t have felt comfortable playing a Game 7 against these Warriors, as strong a single-game bet as perhaps any team in NBA history. If Lowry hits that shot, all the worries die instantly.

Allen’s shot is hard to top; it literally saved a title, with the yellow tape already out along the sidelines to prepare for the San Antonio Spurs’ championship ceremony. Jordan’s shot is still probably No. 1, given his stature as an all-time sports figure and the poetry of the shot, a walk-off winner to end his career. (We don’t speak of his Wizards days around these parts.)

That leaves Lowry’s championship-winner as likely the third-greatest shot in the 70-plus years the NBA has existed. Not too shabby.