basketball kansas basketball

March Madness / Zapruder analysis of Mario's shot

A cou­ple of days ago, I was watch­ing Mario's three-point­er for like the 150th time, and I decid­ed to do it JFK/Zaprud­er style. Click. Sher­ron blows by Der­rick Rose. Click. Click. Click. Sher­ron begins to fall. Click. The ball emerges in Mario's hands, he takes a big jump-step toward the top of the key, jumps, fades. Der­rick Rose leaps. Ball leaves Mario's hand. Arc-ing, arc-ing. Swish. (Rewind). Swish. (Rewind). Swish. I felt like Kevin Cost­ner in JFK: Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left.

An obscured leaping figure

As I stepped through the swish mul­ti­ple times, I saw some­thing I hadn't seen before, a sort of puff of smoke on the grassy knoll. There's a leap­ing fig­ure behind the back­board, at the very far end of the Kansas bench. Just after Mario's shot goes through, the play­ers on the bench appear to be in dis­be­lief, but a black clad fig­ure at the end of the bench sud­den­ly springs up, spin­ning, arms flail­ing. I think that this was pret­ty close to my reac­tion as well.

Ballard celebratesThis is clos­est I could come to a shot of the bench at that moment Mario's shot goes through the net. It's unclear who it is from this pho­to, but it's almost cer­tain­ly the same guy you can see onscreen, jump­ing and celebrating.

You can kin­da see a black blur behind the back­board in this YouTube clip, but it's much more clear­ly viewed in high-def­i­n­i­tion about two feet from your TV screen.Fast-forward to the post-game cel­e­bra­tion, and it becomes clear that the fig­ure is none oth­er than for­mer Kansas back­up point guard and cur­rent video assis­tant, Brett Bal­lard. Awe­some. I was always a Bal­lard fan because he's a Kansas kid, from Hutchi­son. [Here's a nice Kansan pro­file of Bal­lard.] Now he'll always be the visu­al record of my own reac­tion to Mario's shot.