It’s 2004 and it’s Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals between the Lakers and Spurs. The Lakers have the ball, down one point after an incredible Tim Duncan shot left just 0.4 seconds on the clock.
Basketball fans remember what follows: One of the wildest shots in NBA history, followed by a Lakers’ series win, followed by a surprising Lakers’ Finals loss two rounds later.
But how much do you remember of what came before? This moment is best understood in context — that of the Los Angeles-San Antonio rivalry, the dark weirdness of the 2003-2004 Lakers, and the recent histories of some characters peripheral to the event. So many forces, some random and some intentional, combined to make this moment happen.