The 2015-16 Spurs steamrolled their way to a remarkable 67-15 record, which was only eclipsed by the Warriors’ record-breaking 73-9 season. After dispatching the Memphis Grizzlies by an average of 22-points per game in a first-round playoff sweep, the Spurs dominated the Thunder in Game 1 of the second round.
Game 2, however, was a different story. With 13.5 seconds left in the game, Oklahoma City was clinging to a 98-97 lead and inbounding the ball on their sideline. Then, this happened.
In an effort to clear room, Dion Waiters sent Manu Ginobili back with an elbow to the chest that was ignored by the officiating crew. The result was a scrambling play where the Spurs squandered a chance to take the lead off a Thunder turnover.
A Former San Antonio Spurs forward speaks out
In a recent episode of The Ringer NBA Show, David West ranted about the Warriors-Spurs series that never was, shifting blame to referees for their mishap.
“This is the only place I’ll ever blame the referees,” said West. “The NBA should’ve stepped in. Someone should’ve stepped in. We were getting ready to go up 2-0 at home. That crazy [expletive] play — [he] elbows Manu in the chest from out of bounds. There was a no-call. We lose the game on that.”
The no-call was the topic of NBA discussion immediately following the game, as the Inside the NBA crew dissected the bizarreness of the play. “If it was a technical foul, they would’ve gotten a free throw and the ball. They could’ve won in regulation,” said Kenny Smith.
To their credit, the Spurs were able to shake off the heartbreaking loss by winning in Oklahoma City in Game 3, but it would be their last win of the series. Still, the frustration lingers with West, who ended up joining the Warriors for back-to-back rings to finish out his career.
“I wanted to snatch one of them dudes up because you gotta make a call. With all the reviewing and stuff, you gotta make a call,” continued West.
Given that the Spurs still managed to obtain a 2-1 series lead after the controversial play, the series loss obviously can’t be pinned to that one moment. Still, you have to wonder if things might’ve gone differently if San Antonio took a 2-0 lead.