Exactly three years ago today, Damian Lillard hit a shot Portland Trail Blazers fans remember well. The Blazers were facing the Houston Rockets in the first round of the NBA playoffs—their first playoffs since 2011. They hadn’t won a series since 2000.
Portland got off to a quick start in the series, winning the first two in Houston. The Rockets won Game 3 in Portland, but the Blazers bounced back for Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead. They needed to close out the series at home after Houston won Game 5, or face a potential Game 7 on the road. In a back-and-forth game, Chandler Parsons hit a layup to put the Rockets ahead 98-96 with only 0.9 seconds left.
That’s when this happened:
For fans of the Trail Blazers, this is the kind of the moment you hope for; watching your team come out on top through a heroic, improbable play is the best feeling in sports. When it happens you remember the details and cherish the memories it created.
I was watching Game 6 with family. My wife and I joined my sister and her family for dinner then the game. Both our families were full of Blazer fans. My brother-in-law, my then 10-year old nephew, and I were especially fanatic. Being able to enjoy that moment with them is something I’ll always remember.
But the moment had even more significance for me. Just the day before, my wife and I had brought home a baby girl. She was born three months earlier and abandoned by her biological mother at the hospital. With the encouragement of some family friends who were licensed foster parents and had adopted through the foster system, my wife and I began the process of becoming licensed foster parents with the intention of fostering then adopting this baby girl.
The process of getting licensed took three months, during which our future daughter lived with our already licensed friends. It was emotionally difficult as we worked through the tedious process of licensing knowing this baby girl would eventually be our daughter but not being able to have her in our home. Finally, after weeks of classes, paperwork, and home studies, we were told we were licensed and could take this baby, our baby, into our home on May 1.
Game 6, on May 2, was the first Blazer game we’d be able to watch with our baby girl as a part of our family. At only three months old, she didn’t care about the game, but she was there with us. She slept through the fourth quarter and was sound asleep with 0.9 seconds left. When Lillard hit the shot the room erupted with cheering and clapping. Our new baby was startled awake and began crying.
We initially felt bad about waking her up, but it didn’t matter. The Blazers had won the series, and we had experienced a sports moment we’ll always remember. Having your team win a series on a buzzer beater is amazing. Being able to share that moment with friends or family makes it all the more special.
We were able to adopt our daughter about seven months later. She’s three years old now, and I look forward to watching many more Blazers games with her as she gets old enough to care. She may not have enjoyed Lillard’s buzzer beater three years ago, but hopefully we’ll be able to share another great Blazer moment like it in the future—maybe even a championship someday.
So, where were you when Dame hit the shot? What memories do you have about that game?