The NBA 3-Point Contest is the best part of All-Star Weekend, and Craig Hodges is still the king
On Saturday night, Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris edged Steph Curry, the greatest shooter in world history, to win the 2019 NBA three-point shootout in Charlotte. You can watch the highlights here, and I recommend it—it's fun:
The 3-point contest, which began in 1986, is the best event of All-Star weekend, and anyone who claims that the dunk contest or the game itself is better...well, they're wrong. The contest also has a fascinating history, and one thing to note when comparing results across the years is that the format has changed. In the past, each of the five racks had one "money ball" worth two points, and four "normal" balls worth one point apiece, but now the shooters get one rack full of money balls. Which means, of course, that overall scores are higher today.
One thing that hasn't changed, though, is the number of total shots: With five racks of five balls each, shooters have always had 25 chances, and 60 seconds to make their way around the arc. Which means there's one perfect historical comparison that transcends overall point total: How many shots did you make out of 25?
On Saturday night, Steph Curry and Joe Harries each made 19 shots in a round, which is the third-highest total ever, and puts them on a rarefied leaderboard of the 12 greatest rounds ever. But it asks another question: In the 33 years since the contest has been staged, who was the absolute best?
Through much sleuthing in a period of total obsession a year ago (documented here on Reddit for anyone who really wants to go down the rabbit hole), I learned that only one man has ever hit 21 shots. It happened in 1991, and the shooter was three-time three-point contest winner Craig Hodges. Lucky for all of us, that round is also on YouTube:
As you see, he started out with 19 made shots in a row, which is absolutely ridiculous and also a record. After finally missing his 20th ball, he made his next two to go 21/22, and then missed three in a row. Even with the slow finish, it remains—28 years later—the greatest round in history. Here's the full list of everyone who has ever made 19 or more in a single round:
21 made shots - Craig Hodges: (1991)
20 made shots - Devin Booker (2018), Jason Kapono (2008), Steph Curry (2015), Kyrie Irving (2013), Craig Hodges (1986), Mark Price (1994)
19 made shots - Hubert Davis (1998), Jason Kapono (2007), Klay Thompson (2016), Joe Harris (2019), Steph Curry (2019)
Along with winning the event three times, making the finals five times, and holding the record at 21 made threes, Hodges was a 40 percent career three-point shooter and won two NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls in the early '90s (and two more as Phil Jackson's assistant with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010). As this article in Slam Magazine documents, he was also a man of strong political convictions—once writing an 8-page letter to George W. Bush on a visit to the White House, and later calling out Michael Jordan for his avoidance of political issues—and his willingness to speak out may have played a role in ending his NBA career prematurely at age 32. Hodges has a strong off-the-court legacy to go with the championships, the 3-point contest titles, and of course the magical round of 21 made shots—a record that still stands, almost miraculously, in the golden age of the 3-pointer, and has not been beaten or even tied by the greatest shooters in the game.
The Dunk Contest Gimmick That Didn't Suck of the Week: Jumpin' Over Shaq!
I'm a little bit of a dunk contest hater, in the sense that I think it's often overrated, but this was genuinely fun and awesome by 2019 champ Hamadou Diallo:
The forearm hang really seals it. But I still think this view is the most fun:
The Insufferable Duke Fan Shoehorning in a Zion Williamson Moment of the Week...Moment of the Week: Dunks!
Hamadou Diallo, the guy who just won the dunk contest by jumping over Shaq? Well, Zion Williamson beat him in a high school dunk contest in 2016. Watch them go at it here:
The Tough Match of the Week: This Italian Soccer Team
Apparently there's a rule in Italian soccer that you need seven players to start a match legally, and seven is exactly how many the Serie C team Pro Piacenza had on Sunday due to a sorta-kinda strike in which the normal players and coaches wouldn't travel to the match against Cuneo because of overdue wages. Playing with six players under 18 and a 39-year-old kitman (uniform manager, I guess?), they...did not do well.
If I told you the match finished at 20-0, which it did, you might assume the opposing team was running up the score unnecessarily. But that's not even the case! Turns out, it was 16-0 at the half, which means Cuneo took it easy on the visitors in the second half. That's some mercy. More amazingly, Cuneo had up to that point in the season scored just 18 goals. I particularly liked the way the local media handled things:
"Local media outlet Sport Piacenza abandoned its reporting of the match, writing that readers would be informed of the final result once the "farce" was over."
Here are some very listless highlights with some very listless music:
Dumbest, Coolest Buzzer Beater of the Week: Iowa
Ever had a moment where you do something pretty awesome, but it was kind of an accident and you don't really deserve the outcome? Watch this:
It's kind of embarrassing to make a bank shot from the corner, because it means your shot was really, really off, but in this situation it's also pretty cool because it was a desperation hoist and, hey, it's a buzzer beater! So good for Iowa, I guess. That's a cool, dumb way to win.