When the ball left Gordon Hayward's right hand and sailed roughly 47-feet through the sky on March 5, 2010, everyone in the stadium was thinking the same thing: Whoa, that's got a chance.
It was the 2010 national championship. Goliath (Duke) was leading David (Butler) 61-59. Brian Zoubek was at the free-throw line for Duke. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told him to miss the free throw on purpose. Zoubek followed his coaches orders. Then arguably the biggest what-if moment in college basketball happened.
Hayward grabbed the rebound. He ran up the court around two Duke defenders. When he touched half court, he launched a high-arching shot that looked good the whole way. But instead of being the greatest shot in the history of the NCAA tournament, the ball clanked off the back rim and Duke won.
Hard to believe that was 10 years ago today.
Although Hayward missed the shot, that was the moment everyone remembers from that tournament. Not that Duke won. Not how great of a game it was from start to finish. Not Iowa's upset win over top-ranked Kansas or Kansas State and Xavier's double OT thriller. Just Hayward's missed half courter.
It was the launching point for Hayward's career in the spotlight and the beginning of the legend of Brad Stevens, Hayward's college coach. It was the first of two straight national championship appearances for Butler. It was everything you could ask for in a sporting event. Everything except the shot going in.