Let’s play the “What If?” game.
What if Tony Parker‘s last-second shot at the end of regulation in Game 6 found its way inside the net? Well, the Spurs would have won their fifth NBA title in the Tim Duncan era, Parker likely would’ve won his second Finals MVP and ESPN would feature nothing but “LeBron’s Tarnished Legacy” headlines until Tim Tebow is named the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots.
But wait, not so fast.
After Ray Allen knocked down the game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds remaining, referee Joey Crawford grabbed the ball, stopped play and went to the sideline to review the shot and make sure Allen’s feet were behind the arc. During the review, Duncan checked into the game and eventually inbounded the ball to Parker for the final play. According to NBA rules, substitutions are not permitted following official stoppages for replay reviews. Therefore — if Parker’s shot had fallen — the last 5.2 seconds would have needed to be replayed.
However, the replaying of the final 5.2 seconds wouldn’t have been an immediate occurrence following the end of regulation. The Heat would have had to file an official protest to the league, resulting in an expedited decision from NBA commissioner David Stern, and the teams would have to reconvene at AmericanAirlines Arena for the final 5.2 seconds of a potential NBA title-clinching Game 6 with the score tied at 95.
Nonetheless, Parker did indeed miss the final shot in regulation, prompting an overtime period that allowed LeBron James and the Heat to force a Game 7 on Thursday night, so this is all irrelevant. For all of our benefit, no replaying will occur, and the two teams will have a full 48 minutes to earn their right to be named 2013 NBA champions.