More than a day has passed and I still find myself watching and re-watching Doug Davis’s buzzer-beater in some kind of enraptured tigerblooded trance. I quickly tired of the original version, though, and hungered for more. Fortunately the Internets are very good at indulging this kind of inane curiosity; tons of alternate angles cropped up all over YouTube and I watched as many of them as I could. I’ve gathered here a few of my favorite perspectives on what shall hereafter be known as “The Shot.” Consider this UPC’s version of that movie Vantage Point, only not awful, not with Dennis Quaid, and nobody dies. Except maybe the Harvard fan who issued that bloodcurdling shriek. Just continue reading to find out what I meant by the purposefully cryptic previous sentence!
Classic View, but Clearer
This is the same ESPN footage as the original, but in way better quality, and, inexplicably, with several thousand fewer views. (Perhaps there’s something to be said for capturing a classic gem of Princetoniana in grainy and choppy fashion.) Anyway, this is the most traditional view of the madness, and easily the most addictive — I could watch it all day, savoring every frame. Davis’s vicious pump fake with his right leg splayed out to the side. The tragic, balletic leap of Harvard #11 as he bites so, so hard on said pump fake. Davis pulling up for the leaner, letting loose. My man in the tie standing in the far corner calling it before anyone else (see 0:18), as one astute YouTube commenter observed. Davis falling over. The ball falling in. The sea of white and orange collapsing onto Davis, who’s already found a suitable seat on the floor. Gratuitous shots of orange morph suits. Fist-pumping aplenty. Which is all to say, timeless.
Behind Enemy Lines
For those with a masochistic streak. Ostensibly filmed in the midst of Crimson fans, this version provides all the delicious sensory detail we’ve been missing out on. Admittedly, the Prematurely Excited Adidas Dude Holding A White T-Shirt obscures the actual shot, but everything else is glorious. Watch carefully at 0:13 and you’ll see around a dozen pairs of hands glom onto their owners’ heads to form that wretched triangle, that universal symbol of sports grievance. A little later, somebody’s waving frenetically as if to wipe away what just happened, trying to make it all stop. Even the cameraman flails around for a little. And we at UPC sincerely pray for the well-being of whoever/whatever produced that ungodly two-part scream at 0:14: “Nooooooooooooooo-nOOOooo.”
This seems to be filmed from high up in the Princeton section. After Davis drains it you can watch the topography of the crowd change — all of a sudden it’s bristling with fists, as every single hand has erupted simultaneously into the air. And as people begin to storm the court, watch fans pour out of the bleachers and form a strange and wonderful vortex that converges on Mr. Davis. Someone should alert Professors Naomi Leonard and Susan Marshall, because this looks like it was ripped right out of their dance/science performance, “Flock Logic.” I kid you not — look here for reference. I eagerly await a second installment in the performance, a sequel dedicated to this beautiful moment in time.
A Healthy Dose of Melodrama
This one is artfully filmed, rife with all kinds of camera tricks like zooming and focusing and going out of focus and stuff. It lends an appropriate air of epicness to the proceedings; one feels as though one is watching Coach Carter or some comparable masterpiece, or perhaps a TNT special. More than anything else, the closeups reveal all the unseen nuance, reminding us how very human all these actors are: we see the inscrutable mix of emotions on the players’ faces as the huddle breaks, the sweat wiped from brows, the fidgeting at the baseline, the conversation with the ref that’s fraught with a tangible tension. It also showcases the athleticism more faithfully: everything happens so fast. Including the pump fake, which is almost too good from this vantage point. From here the defender appears even more graceful, leaping gazelle-like, flailing back to block the shot with his other arm, missing by inches, but you already know it’s futile and you know the ball will reliably find its way to the hoop. This remains true no matter how many times you watch this video, which is comforting and nice.
I think I’ve covered the major ones, but if missed any, feel free to drop them in the comments section with your own commentary. And a special thanks goes out to Daniel Mark GS, a true devotee of Princeton athletics, whose Facebook status inspired all this.
UPDATE: We’ve got a few more. This one’s from the cheerleading section, so you can see Davis hit the hardwood and watch the dogpile accumulate at eye level. This one gives the best view of dumbfounded Harvard players walking off — including the inevitable awkwardness/schadenfreude of Princeton fans running right by them to storm the court (at 0:33, it’s shaky, but you can see number 15 testily swat away some Princeton fans who are passing by). And we would be remiss if we didn’t include this staggeringly accurate reenactment: