On this date in Wizards history: Paul Pierce called ‘Game'


It feels like eons have passed since the Wizards were considered amongst the Eastern Conference's elite teams and had a clear path toward contending for an NBA Title. 

One of the most iconic moments in the recent memory of D.C. sports happened on this day, May 9, just five years ago.

In Game 3, with the series tied 1-1, the Wizards were undermanned without John Wall in the lineup heading into the first game at home. But despite his absence, the Wizards were able to muster up a 21-point lead over the Hawks, outscoring them throughout the first three quarters of the game. But a spirited run got the contest within arm's reach for Mike Budenholzer's squad, and with just 14.1 seconds remaining, the game was tied.

Pierce checked in for Otto Porter Jr. for the final possession of regulation to go along with Bradley Beal, Will Bynum, Ramon Sessions, and Marcin Gortat.


Sessions inbounded the ball to a young Bradley Beal who cut out toward the three-point arc defended closely by Kent Bazemore. As time began to tick away, Bynum, currently set at the free throw stripe, swung out left to set an off-ball screen for Pierce who was stationed in the corner defended tightly by Kyle Korver. After the switch, it was Dennis Schroeder tasked with defending the former Jayhawk, who had a clear height advantage over the Hawks' defender with a little over six seconds remaining in regulation. Pierce pivoted with his back to Schroder, squaring up with the rim from just inside the three-point arc. 

With just 1.3 remaining on the game clock, Pierce squared up for the shot, as Bazemore shifted over to give help to the undersized Schroeder. As he released the ball, Pierce fell onto his back as the ball went right off the glass and into the cylinder, as his teammates swarmed him on the hardwood. 

As confetti fell from the rafters, Pierce, still on his back with both arms raised diagonally, had single-handedly lifted the spirits of every single fan in attendance at the then-called Verizon Center, and to the day the loudest I have ever heard the arena. 

At the age of 37, Pierce walked up to then-ESPN NBA reporter Chris Broussard for the postgame interview where the latter proceeded to ask the future Hall of Famer if he "called bank" after the shot went off the glass of the backboard.

Pierce, catching his breath after the biggest shot of the Wizards' season then replied.

"Nah. I called game."

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