Maybe the coolest exchange from a lengthy post-press conference group question-and-answer session with new Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts came about with a softball, obvious question for a man who has yet to post a winning record in his four seasons as a head coach: Do you have any regrets?
I asked that softball, obvious question on Wednesday and Stotts replied without missing a beat.
"In a game against Memphis, I wish we had purposefully missed a free throw," he said while seated at a Rose Garden media room table, surrounded by a handful of reporters.
Wait, what? What was the time/score situation?
"Travis Hansen had a free throw," Stotts said. "If he had missed, [time would have run out]. He made it, and James Posey made a 40-footer to tie the game and we lost in double overtime."
Do you ever wonder whether losses eat at coaches as much as they do fans and media members? You shouldn't, nobody takes losses harder than NBA coaches, but here's your answer: Stotts, on a celebratory day that arguably represented the high point of the last five years of his professional career, was perfectly recalling the details of a inconsequential loss that happened more than eight years ago, on Mar. 29, 2004.
Here's the Basketball-Reference.com box score. The Memphis Grizzlies (48-26 with the win) defeated his lottery-bound Atlanta Hawks (24-50), 136-133, in double overtime on a random Monday night at Philips Arena.
The Grizzlies forced overtime with a Jason Williams three-pointer with 5.7 seconds remaining in regulation. The Hawks went on to take a 121-119 lead in overtime before Hansen, a BYU guard who played just this one season in the NBA, was fouled by Grizzlies forward Shane Battier with 2.1 seconds left. Hansen missed the first of two free throws but made the second, pushing Atlanta's lead to 122-119 and giving the Grizzlies the opportunity to set up from a baseline inbounds situation rather than a rebounding scramble.
ESPN.com's box score notes that Posey then drilled a 34-footer at the buzzer to force double overtime. The Grizzlies won that period, 14-11, to secure the 136-133 victory.
"Now I know," Stotts said on Wednesday.
Again, to reiterate, this was a late-March game more than eight years ago during a season in which his team went 28-54. According to the ESPN.com wire, Stotts was fired by the Hawks on May 7, 2004, less than two months later.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter