NBA

The moments immediately following Kawhi Leonard's shot are what make it so great

In the hours and days that followed Toronto's miraculous second-round series victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, many fan reaction videos began to circulate through social media. With the pandemic now keeping many of us apart, we remember two of the best viral celebrations.

Remembering viral reactions to the historic 4-bounce, series-clinching buzzer-beater

Toronto Raptors fans celebrate from Jurassic Park outside of Scotiabank Arena during Game 6 of the NBA Finals in June. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Do you remember where you were when time froze?

When Kawhi Leonard, the "fun guy," rose up for a jumper in front of the Raptors bench, and the ball bounced on the rim four times. And then pandemonium.

In the hours and days that followed Toronto's miraculous second-round series victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, many fan reaction videos began to circulate through social media.

And even if you didn't remember to hit record, if you're a Raptors fan, you surely remember where you were.

WATCH | The shot:

Kawhi Leonard poured in 41 points, including a dramatic game-winner as the Toronto Raptors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 92-90 to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. 1:23

Maybe you watched with your family at home. That's where Logan Purdy, a 41-year-old father of three, was stationed when Leonard hit the first Game 7 series-clinching buzzer-beater in history.

"I don't usually record my kids when we're watching sporting events and I just, I guess it was just a feeling that this was it, the game's on the line. Everybody knew the ball was going to go to Kawhi and I captured it. And I have no regrets," Purdy said.

Those are Purdy's two sons, Sean and Brendan, in the video above. Purdy's voice is the one you hear in the background.

Missing from the shot are two key figures: wife Annie and daughter Sabrina. That's because Annie bowed out of the room after the Raptors lost grip of their lead, believing she was a jinx to the team's fortunes. Sabrina soon followed to make sure her mom was OK.

Sean and Brendan, meanwhile, stayed behind in their Spiderman pyjamas, listening to their dad remind them of the importance of the ensuing 4.2 seconds.

WATCH | Panel discussion on impact of The Shot:

CBC Sports' Andi Petrillo hosts a panel discussion including Doug Smith, Devin Heroux, Mark Blinch, William Lou, Ashley Docking and Seerat Sohi, to talk about Kawhi Leonard's buzzer beater against the 76ers and the impact that had on Canadian basketball fans. 22:45

And that's where the Purdy family was when time froze.

"It was just like that minute, that five seconds of shock that that actually just happened, because I think everybody was just hanging on that ball on the rim, and fortunately for us it fell," Purdy said.

Purdy never intended for his video to go viral, but admits he shared it widely and perhaps unwittingly contributed to its vast reach.

"The Raptors going on a run brings family together, brings the city together and brings friends together, right? I think it's good for society."


Maybe you watched the shot at a bar, in a crowd — remember those?

Oliver Dimapilis, 43, doesn't usually have TVs in his bar Cold Tea in Toronto's Kensington Market, because he says it disrupts the natural rhythm of the environment.

"It got to the point obviously with Raptors fever, people would be there before," Purdy said. "So we brought a projector and screen. I don't know any place that had half a brain that didn't bring in some sort of screen."

The projector also brought with it a new seating arrangement, where tiny stools were placed right in front of the screen and people stood on tables in the back.

Dimapilis remembers Game 7 bringing a sense of mania to the people at his bar.

"I'm sure everyone was stressed in Toronto and around Canada. But wow. You could feel the intensity in the air, like everyone was focused. You could literally hear a pin drop throughout that last three minutes of play. And people yelling obviously, cursing," Dimapilis said.

Like Purdy, Dimapilis felt a sense of the moment, and he moved to the back of the bar in his attempt, with a shaky hand, to record the reaction.

"I remember [Philadelphia 76ers centre Joel] Embiid switches so Embiid tries to cover [Leonard], but he's a little too quick so he gets its off. And I'm like, 'oh at least he got it off.' And I remember the second bounce, in my head I calculated 60 per cent this can go in. The third bounce you're like 85 per cent this can go in.

"And then obviously the fourth bounce and it goes in and everyone goes crazy."

What followed, Dimapilis said, were 10 minutes of stunned silence, and then a mass exodus from the bars to fill the streets.

"We needed to find more people."

Now, Dimapilis says he sees his video pop up in movie theatres and YouTube ads.

"It's a lot of places. It got away quick. But I don't care. It was birthed through Toronto, it was birthed through the Raptors. That's the city's as far as I'm concerned."


It still feels as though the NBA has a long way to go before it can return in any capacity.

With the sports world shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, moments such as the Kawhi shot and raw emotional reactions such as Purdy's and Dimapilis' just aren't possible.

The social interaction that sports provides is on pause.

"Being socially connected is our brain's lifelong passion. It's been baked into our operating system for tens of millions of years," Matthew Lieberman, a professor of psychology at UCLA, told the school's digital outlet, Newsroom.

WATCH | Fans relive the shot:

Exactly one year after Kawhi Leonard's series-clinching shot, CBC Toronto looks back at the memorable moment with fans and staff who were in attendance. 3:25

In his book Social, Lieberman explains the human predisposition craves social interaction because it's become an increased requirement with each step of evolution.

"Mammals are more socially connected than reptiles, primates more than other mammals, and humans more than other primates," Lieberman said. "What this suggests is that becoming more socially connected is essential to our survival."

The book says this process explains why humans are interested in watching others interact, as in sports and through social media.

In other words, it's why kids or bar crowds reacting to a miraculous series-winning shot go viral.

It's why Dimapilis says he likes asking other people where they were for the shot.

"There's these rare moments that are less than a second — they're just a brief moment — that can unite a city, a country, a community in a blink of an eye. It's just amazing."

It's why the shot is now frozen in time.

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