John Starks had a quality career with the Knicks, earning respect for his tenacious defensive play and timely 3-point shooting before the 3-point shot became such an important part of the NBA.
Unfortunately, he might be best known for his 2-for-18 shooting performance in Game 7 of the 1994 NBA finals, which included 0 for 11 from 3-point range.
But here’s the thing: Starks came this-close to perhaps the greatest clutch 4th-quarter performance in NBA finals history—in Game 6—when he spearheaded a Knicks rally, scoring 16 points in the final quarter,
With the Knicks trailing by two, they set a screen to free up Starks for a 3 at the buzzer. Akeem Olajuwon made an unbelievable defensive play and jumped out, just getting a fingertip deflection on Starks’ shot, causing it to fall short.
If Akeem hadn’t been successful, Starks goes down in sports lore for scoring 19 points in a 4th-quarter rally, including a championship-winning 3 at the buzzer. What a difference the sliver of a fingertip can make. As it turned out, Houston was indeed a worthy opponent, having won it all not only in 1994 but the next year as well.
Similarly, think back to two years later—1996—when Ohio State came this-close to a legendary perfect season. If they had better capitalized on their first-half red zone opportunities, if Shawn Springs hadn’t slipped, it would have been one of the greatest seasons in Buckeye history, especially with the dramatic Rose Bowl win, the team’s first in more than two decades.
(By the way, given the fact that TTUN won a co-natty the following season, how remarkable was this upset in The Game in ‘96?)
So...if Ohio State had won The Game in 1996, Coop would have had one natty and a 3-9-1 record in The Game. Would that have dramatically changed your opinion of his time in Columbus?