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The Arizona Wildcats are well-represented in the Major League Baseball postseason with Kevin Ginkel turning into a relief ace for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s thrown 4 1/3 scoreless innings across four innings, striking out eight, helping the D-backs sweep past the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers.
What will he do next when the NLCS starts Monday against the Philadelphia Phillies? Will he have a moment that will get him added to this prestigious list?
I’ve been thinking about this list of the Wildcats’ most memorable moments in the postseason for much of the week. For as much as I think this list is perfectly objective, you can’t remove the subjectiveness from this kind of thing, so these are the things that are most memorable to me.
I will say, though, the first two Wildcats’ moments are unassailable, although your order of the rankings might vary. It’s simple. You can’t tell the story of the NBA Finals without Steve Kerr’s series-clinching jumper, and you can’t tell the story of the Super Bowl without Nick Foles and Philly Special.
The rest of the list … go ahead and debate.
But let’s be clear: We are talking about a moment – one play, one shot, one singular act. We are NOT talking about a performance over an entire game or series. Just one moment that we can never forget.
1. Kerr clinches the 1997 NBA Finals
Kerr, in an iconic NBA moment, took a pass from a double-teamed Michael Jordan and drilled a 17-foot jumper to break an 86-86 tie with the Utah Jazz in the final seconds of Game 6, giving the Chicago Bulls their fifth title of the Jordan era.
During the timeout, Jordan turned to Kerr on the bench and said, “Be ready. (John) Stockton is going to double-team me,'” Kerr recalled.
In the video below, you can see Kerr is all calm confidence.
“If he comes off, I’ll be ready,” Kerr said back to Jordan.
Kerr was. And he was not going to miss his shot.
2. Foles’ touchdown catch in Super Bowl LII
Foles went to the sideline late in the first half and suggested calling his own number to coach Doug Pederson: Philly Special.
NFL Films would later tout it as The BOLDEST Trick Play in NFL History!
It worked. Foles and the Eagles faked out the New England Patriots on fourth-and-1, taking a 22-12 halftime lead that helped Philadelphia – with the help of a late Foles’ touchdown pass – win 41-33 in the 2018 game.
Foles ended up winning an ESPY that year for Best Championship Performance.
3. LeBron swats Andre Iguodala
I told myself that I wasn’t going to do this, that this list was only for positive performances by the Wildcats. But “memorable” doesn’t differentiate between good and bad. It simply is … memorable.
So, sorry, Andre.
You can’t tell the story of LeBron James without mentioning The Block, his chase-down of Iguodala late in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. The game was tied at 89 at the time of the block, and James’ Cavaliers would go on to win 93-89, ending the city of Cleveland’s 52-yard title drought across all the major sports.
4. Sean Elliott’s Memorial Day Miracle
On May 31, 1999, Sean Elliott and the San Antonio Spurs were locked in a battle with Portland in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. Taking an inbounds pass (as former Wildcats teammate Steve Kerr ran the opposite way on the baseline as a decoy), Elliott tight-roped the left sideline, regained his balance and, with his heels above the sideline, launched a shot barely over the fingertips of a charging Rasheed Wallace.
The 3-pointer was good with nine seconds to go.
(You can see in the video below that ex-Cat Damon Stoudamire could scarcely believe what he had just seen.)
It was Elliott’s sixth 3-pointer of the game as the Spurs won 86-85, going on to sweep the Blazers and then knock off the New York Knicks in five games for their first NBA title.
5. J.T. Snow rescues Dusty Baker’s son
This is a little different than the rest of these highlights, but it is so completely unique that it MUST be on the list.
It was the 2002 World Series, early in Game 5, and the San Francisco Giants’ Kenny Lofton – another great Arizona Wildcats player – drilled a triple off the top of the wall that scored Snow from third base. Snow then noticed that Darren Baker, the 3-year-old bat-boy son of San Francisco manager Dusty Baker, had accidentally wandered onto the field and was near home plate to retrieve Lofton’s bat while the play was ongoing.
Snow plucked Darren away from home plate as David Bell came racing in to score in front of catcher Benjie Molina, saving the youngster from what could have been a nasty collision.
In 2018, MLB.com wrote: “That scene from the 2002 World Series is easily the most unforgettable moment in bat-boy history; we never saw anything like it beforehand and we haven’t seen anything like it since.”
6. Jason Terry – BANG!
The 2011 NBA Finals were locked in a 2-2 battle, and the Miami Heat’s LeBron James had totally locked down the Dallas Mavericks’ Jason Terry early in the series. But JT had started to find his stroke, and then he delivered a late dagger in the Game 5.
With the Mavs holding 105-101 lead, Terry rose up over the taller James and nailed a 28-foot shot that sealed the deal and brought out Terry’s joyful JET celebration. Dallas went on to win the series in six games for the first championship in franchise history.
Two Wildcats who just missed our ranking
Top image: Nick Foles scores on the Philly Special (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
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