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Coach K says Laettner’s shot vs. Kentucky not biggest


Mike Miller

Christian Laettner’s last-second shot against Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional final is one of – if not the greatest – shots in college basketball history.

Some may argue for Keith Smart vs. Syracuse or Lorenzo Charles’ follow against Houston, which is fair. Those clinched national titles for Indiana and N.C. State. Throw in Mario Chalmers vs. Memphis and you’ve got your Final Four of shots. But Laettner’s usually comes out on top.

Unless you’re Coach K.

In a video to promote Bobby Hurley’s induction into the Duke hall of fame, Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski proclaimed the 3-pointer Hurley hit in the final minutes of the 1991 Final Four win vs. UNLV the best by a Duke player.

“They were up five, which is three two-point possessions in a game,” Krzyzewski said. “He cut out two possessions, but he also cut out part of their heart. I thought that was the biggest shot I’ve seen a Duke basketball player make, especially considering the circumstances and what happened the year before.”

The 3 did help Duke avenge a 30-point blowout in the previous year’s title game, end the Rebels’ unbeaten season and propel the Devils to the school’s first NCAA title – and the first of Coach K’s career. There’s no denying it was a significant and crucial shot by one of the game’s great players.

But better than Laettner’s? Not buying that. (Neither are Kentucky fans.)

As Jeff Eisenberg writes here and later tweets, Laettner’s shot capped one of the sports’ all-time great games, between two of its all-time great teams with a Final Four berth – and a Duke repeat – on the line. Not to mention the difficulty (a full-court pass to Laettner who had to hit a shot with 2.1 seconds remaining or Duke loses) and the sheer brilliance of Laettner’s day (he didn’t miss a shot all game) and it’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario where another shot has the potential to be greater.

OK, so Gordon Hayward’s would’ve been better.

Anyway, perhaps it’s simply Coach K paying tribute to Hurley and overdoing it a bit. That’s understandable given the significance of Hurley’s Duke tenure and all the big shots he hit, including the UNLV 3-pointer.

But I’ll go Laettner.

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