There’s an old cliché in sports that “every night you see something you’ve never seen before.” Technically, that’s true, because you’ve never seen those exact players do those exact things at that exact time, but let’s be honest — it’s rare that we see something genuinely unique.
So when an NBA player gets the ball stolen from him by his own shoe, you tend to take notice.
As the Sacramento Kings attempted to cling to a dwindling lead in the final minute of their opening night matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers, madness ensued. With his team up by four points, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox dribbled the clock down a bit before making his move toward the basket with 35 seconds remaining. As he changed directions, however, Fox’s shoe came flying off and caused him to stumble, leading to a Blazers fast break.
You don’t see a player losing his shoe in the middle of the play every night, but it’s certainly nothing to tell your grandkids about. Upon further inspection, however, you can see that the turnover was actually caused by Fox dribbling the ball directly off of his own detached shoe, which was careening across the court with reckless abandon.
Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is the stuff of legend. CJ McCollum technically got the steal, but all credit rightfully belongs to Fox’s size 12.5 fluorescent orange Nike.
After the game, Fox said it was his first time wearing Kobe Bryant’s signature sneakers in a while.
“He was trying to get us,” Fox said, via Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento. “(The shoe) flew off and then literally the very next dribble (the ball) bounced off the shoe.”
Not only was it an implausible confluence of events, but it also came at an incredibly crucial time. Following the turnover, Blazers forward Robert Covington ended up with a clean 3-point look in transition that would have cut the lead to a single point. He missed, but Norman Powell was fouled after a Portland offensive rebound, making one of two free throws.
Portland eventually had possession down by three points with eight seconds left, when Kings coach Luke Walton made the decision not to foul, and instead let Damian Lillard take a potential game-tying 3-pointer that probably gave many former playoff opponents PTSD. Lillard’s shot went in and out, and the Kings escaped with a 124-121 win, but Walton’s decision was almost as baffling as Fox getting the ball stolen by his own shoe.
When all was said and done, Fox finished with 27 points, eight assists, five rebounds and one of the most unique moments you’ll ever see on a basketball court.