ESPN’s ETHAN SHERWOOD Strauss has a remarkable story from Game 7 of the 1993 Rockets-Sonics series: Houston had the ball and were down 101-100 with 13 seconds left when reserve player Winston Garland walked onto the court during the play and became his team’s sixth man.
That’s right, a player jumped off the bench, went onto the court, and tried to illegally play during the final seconds of Game 7 of an NBA playoff game.
No one caught it at the time, but then-Sonics coach George Karl told Sherwood Strauss they were dumbfounded when they were watching film a few days later and noticed it. Garland himself still refuses to acknowledge that any cheating took place, despite this video.
The play ultimately came of nothing, and the Sonics won the game and the series. But still, it’s amazing that this blatant cheating attempt didn’t go public until now.
Here’s the video. Keep your eye on the Rockets bench. Garland is kneeling on the sidelines before he gets up, takes the court, and gets in a rebounding position when the shot goes up:
They started the play with five guys:
But then Garland creeps onto the court, and they have six:
By the end of the play, he’s in rebounding position, and wide open:
Another remarkable tidbit: It was actually sound strategy because of a loophole in the rules.
If Garland got caught, they would have given him a technical but they couldn’t take away any points that he scored, according to ESPN. So if he hit a three to put the Rockets up 103-101, it would have counted.