Where Are They Now: 27 Years After Christian Laettner Made the "The Shot"
Twenty-seven years ago today, Duke’s Christian Laettner swished perhaps the most famous shot in NCAA Tournament history. Down 103-102 in overtime against Kentucky with a Final Four appearance on the line, Grant Hill heaved a pass from the baseline to the opposing free-throw line, where Laettner caught it, faked right, dribbled, and sank the turnaround jumper as time expired.
Nearly two decades later, the only element of The Shot that hasn’t changed is Coach K, who is still coaching Duke. The players graduated, went on to live their lives, and are now in their forties with their own careers — some in basketball, some outside of the game. For those who remember where they were 17 years ago today and think, “I wonder what happened to all of those guys,” we have those answers. Where are they now?
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
Coach K is in the exact same place he was in the early 1990s: working to win a national title with Duke. The only real difference is his resume. In 1992, Coach K had been coaching in Durham for 12 years, and was trying to defend his first NCAA title won in 1991. Since then, he’s won the tournament five times, became the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history, and won three Olympic gold medals as Team USA’s head coach.
Laettner’s shot would push him into the public eye in a way few college players had been before. He was the star of Duke’s first national championship in 1991, but after The Shot, everyone knew who he was. He ended up as a part of the 1992 USA Olympic Basketball team, A.K.A. The Dream Team, and was drafted third overall in the NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He would go on to enjoy a solid 13-year career, including one All-Star selection. Outside of basketball, Laettner has been less successful; he started a real estate business with former Duke teammate Brian Davis named Blue Devil Ventures that was ultimately unsuccessful and caused many legal issues, including Laettner suing the company he founded. A documentary was released titled “I Hate Christian Laettner” and he was voted the most hated player in college basketball history. Laettner now lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and spends most of his time fishing.
While Laettner was the best college player on Duke that year, Hill would end up being recognized as the best basketball player on the court that day, and would go on to have a successful NBA career after being drafted at No. 3 overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 1994 draft. Hill has since launched his career in broadcasting, hosting his own show on NBA TV, NBA Inside Stuff with Kristen Ledlow. He’s a central member of CBS’ top college basketball announcing crew, and will be announcing his fifth Final Four this year. He’s also a part of the ownership group that purchased the Atlanta Hawks in 2015, and was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.
The starting point guard for Duke that year, Hurley would be drafted seventh overall by the Sacramento Kings in 1993. Following his basketball career, Hurley became a thoroughbred horse owner and breeder, but his stables were foreclosed in 2010. Hurley couldn’t stay away from the game, however, and joined Wagner College’s coaching staff as an assistant coach in 2010. In 2013 he was named the University of Buffalo’s head coach and led the team to their first March Madness appearance before becoming Arizona State’s head coach, where his contract runs through 2021.
Davis was a good friend of Laettner’s, but didn’t have nearly the level of basketball success, playing overseas after his graduation and only notching 68 games in the NBA. As mentioned previously, Davis teamed up with Laettner for several business projects, including their failed real estate business, and was at the head of an attempt to buy the Memphis Grizzlies with Laettner; their offer eventually fell apart and the duo had trouble paying back the loans they made for the offer, including $2.5 million from Scottie Pippen. Davis fell out of the public eye after he was bought out as a minority owner in the MLS club D.C. United with Laettner and his business fell apart.
Hill is the star of perhaps the most memorable aspect of the celebration that followed The Shot; as the camera turns to him, Hill places his hands on his head in shock and bursts into tears while saying “Oh my god” as the team mobbed Laettner. Hill would be drafted by the Pacers in the second round of the 1993 draft, but would never play a regular season game and played in Australia for a spell. Afterwards, Hill would be named the Sunbelt Conference Director of Championships, and was most recently coaching varsity basketball at Avenues: The World School in New York City.
Coach: Rick Pitino
Pitino first brushed shoulders with major college controversy when he took this Kentucky job after former coach Eddie Sutton was involved in a major recruiting scandal that left Kentucky on probation from 1989-1991. He was on the receiving end of Laettner’s shot in 1992, but would eventually lead Kentucky to a national championship in 1996. Nowadays, Pitino is in the news for all of the wrong reasons; after heading the Louisville program for 16 years, Pitino was implicated in his own recruiting scandal, and was suspended in 2017 for allowing assistant coaches to hire prostitutes for potential recruits, and later fired after a federal investigation named him in a case concerning Adidas paying a recruit $100,000 to come play for Louisville. He is currently overseas as the head coach of the Panathinaikos basketball team of the Greek League.
Farmer was a part of the four Kentucky starters dubbed “the Unforgettables” after their decision to stick by the school following Sutton’s recruiting scandal. He was extremely popular in the region as a result, and turned his fame into a political career; after selling insurance for several years, he won the nomination for the Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture in 2004, and served in the position until 2012. In 2013, Farmer was charged with 42 ethics violations and five federal indictments for abuse of power for his misappropriation of funds during his time as Commissioner of Agriculture. He agreed to a plea deal, and served 20 months in a federal prison before being released in 2015. He now lives in Clay County, and declared for bankruptcy in 2016.
Another member of “the Unforgettables”, Feldhaus played in Japan for five years after his college career ended with Laettner’s shot. He then moved back to Kentucky, where he is now a high school basketball coach in Richmond and co-owns a nine-hole golf course.
The third player that made up “the Unforgettables”, Pelphrey never strayed from what he knew best. After his playing career finished up, he joined the man who recruited him, Eddie Sutton, as an assistant coach at his new head coaching gig at Oklahoma State. He then joined Billy Donovan’s coaching staff at Marshall, and followed him to Florida. Pelphrey was the head coach of Southern Alabama, then Arkansas, where he was fired after four seasons. Pelphrey headed back to Florida under Donovan, but following Donovan’s departure to the NBA, Pelphrey was picked up by Avery Johnson to coach at Alabama. Johnson was fired in 2019, Pelphrey was named interim head coach, and was recently replaced by Nate Oats. Pelphrey’s future at Alabama is unknown.
Woods was the final member of “the Unforgettables”, and like Pelphrey, never strayed away from the college basketball scene. He ran a basketball camp in Kentucky, which includes Antoine Walker and Tony Delk as notable alumni, before going into coaching and eventually earning his first head coaching job at Mississippi Valley State University. He would then take over at Moorehead State, but resigned following allegations of player abuse, including two who filed misdemeanor abuse charges. He is currently the head coach of the Southern University Jaguars.
Mashburn wasn’t as adored by Kentucky fans as his teammates, but he was easily the most talented. Masburn stayed at Kentucky for one more year after the heartbreaking loss to Laettner before declaring for the NBA draft, and was selected at fourth overall by the Dallas Mavericks. Mashburn enjoyed a prolific NBA career that lasted twelve seasons before his retirement in 2005. Mashburn’s post-basketball career proved to be very successful; he owns over 90 businesses, including 34 Outback Steakhouses and 37 Papa John’s franchises, and he moonlights as an analyst for ESPN.