Exactly 15 years ago today, something strange happened in a game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat. It didn’t last a minute, nobody scored, and yet the Hawks walked away victorious. Don’t you think so? But it was like that!
This game had already started on December 19, 2007. At that time the duel between the two East teams went into overtime and with 51.9 seconds on the clock superstar center Shaquille O’Neal conceded – what was left of him at the time – a foul, his sixth! It was over for him and the Heat ultimately lost 117:111.
But stop! As it turned out, the game’s official scorer – according to the rules, someone from the Hawks – made a crucial mistake. He misattributed a foul by Udonis Haslem in the fourth quarter to Shaq. That meant: Actually, O’Neal’s foul in overtime was only his fifth, so he should have been allowed to continue playing.
Head coach Pat Riley appealed and was ultimately right – the Hawks were fined $50,000 for “gross negligence” for the error and the end of the game had to be replayed at 114-111.
That happened on March 8th, 2008. In the final 51.9 seconds, which were played before the actually scheduled game between the Hawks and Heat that evening, not much happened. Neither scored and the Hawks won 114-111.
NBA: First do-over game since 1982
The circumstances of the whole make this event an unforgettable affair. It was the first “do-over” of an NBA game in more than a quarter century. The last time this happened was after a referee made a mistake in a Lakers and Spurs game in 1982 – even then the coach of the affected team was called Pat Riley.
Incidentally, in the case of the Heat, Riley justified his decision to protest by saying he was hoping to get the do-over out of a low early in the season. The Heat was 7-18 at the time. “We fought for everything. So we protested and hoped it would go on and we had a chance to win.”
In retrospect, of course, that thought remained a pipe dream, and the Heat ended the year 15-67 bottom in the NBA.
The sporting misery at the time also meant that the protagonist of all this chaos, Shaquille O’Neal, was no longer there on the second try. In the meantime, Miami had traded him to the Phoenix Suns – in return, Shawn Marion landed on South Beach.
NBA: Shawn Marion plays for two teams in one night
And that made sure that Marion managed a special feat: Since the statistics for the original game are officially valid on December 19th, Marion has officially played for two teams in one evening, since he was also active with the Suns at the time . All players from the first attempt who had not already fouled out were eligible to play in the replay. However, that only affected Atlanta’s Josh Smith. In addition, players who have since been added have also been allowed to play.
And since that 51.9 second was followed by the scheduled game in Atlanta, the Heat somehow managed to lose almost two games in one day.
Incidentally, the first attempt at the game also went down in franchise history because it was the last NBA game of Heat legend Alonzo Mourning, who injured his knee badly. But he didn’t let himself be carried off the floor with a stretcher. “This is not how I imagined going off the court for the last time in my career. If I had to crawl off the court, I would have done it. Nobody would have taken me off the field with a stretcher. That couldn’t be done,” explained the longtime center.
In the end, Atlanta, number 8 in the East, was just enough for the playoffs, where Round 1 ended after seven games against eventual champion Boston. The Heat, for whom it was Pat Riley’s last season as coach, then got the second pick in the draft and drafted Michael Beasley, then two years later LeBron brought his talent to South Beach.