The NBA London Game between the New York Knicks and the Washington Wizards was as exciting as basketball gets, and the result was always in doubt until the last few fractions of the final second.
As everyone knows, basketball is a game where it can be mayhem in the final few moments before the clock eventually runs down to Absolute Zero. This, however, often takes an eternity.
In this game, with the scores at 100-99 in favour of the Knicks, and with less than one second remaining, Thomas Bryant's lay-up was stopped illegally by Allonzo Trier and called for goaltending, whatever that means. A penalty was awarded to put the Wizards 101-100 in front. But still, there were 0.85 seconds left on the clock. Emmanuel Mudiay took a shot at the basket, but it didn't go into it, and the clock wound down further.
At 0.67 seconds, someone in the crowd let out a scream, and the clock was stopped. When it started again, there was barely enough time left for Mudiay to try another high-speed effort, but again, the big, orange lummox of a ball couldn't find the inside of the stringy net, and the time remaining was now down to 0.29 seconds. The Knicks called a 'time-out'. This means the clock is forcibly stopped, and time stands still. Everything goes silent, and there is a very eerie feeling about the place. Sometimes, owls hoot. There's nothing anyone can do but wait until the referees are good and ready to allow it to start ticking again.
During this break, spectators can go to the restroom, buy drinks or sandwiches, or telephone their wives to let them know they are going to be late home by several fractions of a second.
When it was time for play to resume, the clock was stuck, and wouldn't work. The game was, therefore, delayed for another 5 minutes and 32.74 seconds until it could be fixed. Indeed, all it had needed was a new battery. So, with only the fractionest of a fraction of a second left, there was only enough time for two more attempts on the basket, which was now, itself, starting to look exhausted.
Next came the 'Tenth of a Second Warning'. Again, play is stopped, and the teams went to the sideline to see if their respective coaches had any changes of tactics for the final stages of the game. Neither did, and off we went again with 0:01 on the clock. Just one more play!
The atmosphere was tense. The fans were nibbling their fingernails. The Knicks were in possession of the ball. The Wizards weren't. A Knicks player launched the ball towards the hoop, but, just when it looked as if it would be the winning points, the ball hit the rim of the basket, and gently ran around it, not knowing whether to fall one way or the other. The crowd held its breath. The players all gazed up at the ball encircling the hoop, round and round. Somewhere, a dog barked. In a far away galaxy, a star imploded.
After what seemed like hours, but was, in fact, only 4.82 seconds, the ball stopped rolling, and remained on the rim. Rule 44a section 2 (ii) of the Basketball Code states that:
"When the ball comes to rest on the rim of the basket, a period of time, not less than 10 minutes, must be allocated for the purpose of ensuring that the ball has fully stopped its rotation, and that it will not drop either into the basket, or down onto the court."
Ten minutes were put back on the clock, and everyone waited. As the last few of the 600 seconds approached, someone bellowed:
"It's moving! It's moving!", but it wasn't. The ball stood its ground. No basket.
As the final claxon sounded, it was Washington who took the spoils having scored 101 points, against the crestfallen Knicks, who managed just 100.
Then everyone went home, and the players got washed.