In a tight moment of a hotly contested game, the ball boy played a bigger part than he’d ever expect.
With the game tied at 90 apiece and just over three minutes left, Tyler Hansbrough stole the ball from Andray Blatche and started racing the other way. Except there was one problem: the ball boy was mopping a spot right in Hansbrough’s beeline towards the basket. The ball boy did the only thing he could think, diving out of Hansbrough’s way and into the front row. Referee Eric Lewis had to hop over the ball boy just to keep up with the action.
If you watch the replay, it looks like Hansbrough hesitates, if only for a split-second, before ensuring that the ball boy won’t get in his way. That hesitation may have helped Andray Blatche get back into the game, meaning that it was, as YES announcer Ian Eagle said, “legitimate participation.”
This wasn’t even the ball boy’s fault — he was just doing his job, like he always does. See a spot on the floor, mop it up so nobody slips on it and gets hurt. You don’t expect to look up and see a six-foot-nine, 250-pound man barreling towards you with the ball in his hands, trying to give his team the lead in a game with playoff implications and three minutes left.
The Nets won, 101-97.