Today marks the first anniversary of what Utah Jazz fans now know as “The Sundiata Gaines Game.”
To refresh: On Jan. 14, 2010 Gaines hit a last-season 3-pointer to give the Jazz a nationally-televised 97-96 victory over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. What made the shot especially special was that Gaines had recently been signed to a 10-day contract, and would not have been on the court had Deron Williams been healthy.
But Williams was in the locker room with a sprained right wrist, and by the time the ball swung around to Gaines, who was playing in just his fifth NBA game, there was barely time to launch the long bomb.
Following Friday’s shootaround, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said he didn’t have a specific memory of that game, other than it turned out to be a Utah win.
“We won, that’s all I worry about,” he said. “That’s the most important thing to us.”
Sloan was particularly happy for Gaines even before his famed shot. The veteran coach seemed to delight in seeing a young player get a chance to jump from the NBA Development League to the NBA.
“You’re always excited to see somebody have an opportunity like that,” Sloan said. “I think every player that hasn’t been in this league, they come here and somewhere along the line probably dreamed of of being in this league. All of a sudden you’re here and you think, ‘What do I do?’ It takes a lot of hard work.”
Gaines finished out the 2009-10 season with the Jazz and returned for training camp, but was released before the start of the regular season.
The Toronto Raptors signed Gaines to a 10-day deal on Thursday. He had been playing again in the D-League.