MINNEAPOLIS (Satire) — The clock reads 1 minute and 5 seconds left in the 2019 Men’s College Basketball National Championship. Duke has control of the ball at the top of the key, Tre Jones staring down the heart of the Oregon Ducks defense, the Blue Devils trailing 24-20.
A (very) low-scoring title game may not be what anyone had in mind entering Monday night, but it’s what suddenly stood in the way of Duke’s late comeback—the final stage of a quest to capture the always sought-after gold-plated trophy made of wood.
As it turns out, a defensive game would prove a hauntingly beautiful and painfully telling foreshadow of what was to come for los Diablos Azules.
As Jones quarterbacked Duke’s offense, the guard lobbed the ball toward the sideline to Zion Williamson, the presumed No. 1 NBA draft pick with a tight end’s frame. But who else but the man who’d dominated both ends of the court for the Ducks all tournament was there to pick off the pass? Who else but the reincarnation of 2017 Jordan Bell could exorcise the demons that still exist from a Final Four team that couldn’t box out a different team from the Tar Heel State?
You already know the answer.
And you already know what’s gonna happen.
Kenny Wooten’s crunch-time interception couldn’t have been more on brand for a player who had stolen headlines and hearts since his 58-point, 26-rebound, 17-block performance in the Sweet 16 against No. 1 Seed Virginia in which 54 of his points came on alley-oop finishes. The breakaway Monday night led to a dunk so fierce, so mind-blowingly intense that Oregon was awarded six points for the single transition score.
The NCAA has since released an official statement, clarifying “Ain’t no way the dunk we just witnessed—the slamma-jamma we’ll all tell our grandkids about someday—is worth the same number of points as the weak-ass elbow jumper Cam Reddish hit in the first half.”
Irate at what he’d later call “the worst display of fanboyism since Carmelo Anthony wouldn’t stop fawning over Tayshaun Prince’s championship ring while on the Redeem Team,” legendary head coach Mike Krzyzelruvbik7dny let the zebras hear it. He was given a tech, and Oregon ultimately went on to win, 31-20, following the successful Point After Technical.
The sequence itself immediately drew comparisons to “The Pick,” which as you’ll recall came courtesy of Oregon Football’s Kenny Wheaton during the 1994 season. Here’s a look back at quite possibly the greatest play in Ducks history, and most certainly the greatest play call in the UO broadcast archives:
Who else could’ve been in that position to make that play? You already know the answer, and you already know what’s gonna happen 10 times out of 10.
Kenny Wheaton’s gonna score.
Now take a look at the exact defense-to-offense play Oregon head coach Dana Altman drew up in honor of the upcoming 25-year Anniversary of “The Pick,” obtained exclusively by Oregon Sports News:
After the game, Altman told reporters, “I just felt like this was the right play to call. Twenty-five years is a big deal—a bigger deal than a national championship, really. If it hadn’t been such a milestone anniversary coming up for such a monumental play, I probably wouldn’t have thought to draw up a steal and hundred-million-view viral dunk.
“Wait, this game today was for the actual, like, ‘for real’ championship? I guess sometimes things just work out.”
Asked to elaborate on why he chose to sit four of his players down the stretch and leave Wooten alone on the off chance Duke just happened to run the play at all, he replied, “Yes, my family and friends are probably very excited for me, thanks for asking.”
WIth the 2018-19 season now a wrap and Oregon having gone from preseason contender to midseason pretender, all the way back to never surrender and 2020 title defender, the Ducks can breathe a sigh of relief. And Wooten, in particular, can have his moment.
What exactly does that moment look like when the dust settles and the star of the night gets to celebrate the biggest play of his life?
“You already know the answer,” Kenny Wheaton told Oregon Sports News from experience. “And you already know what’s gonna happen.”
*Bryant Knox is the world’s most okay sports satire writer. For the world’s most okay Tweets, follow him @BryantKnox.