Remembering the notorious foul call in the 95 playoffs
Pippen got back a split-second too late, Davis released the ball and then Pippen made contact with Davis' arms on the follow-through. The shot bounced off the right side of the rim, and for the briefest of moments it appeared the Bulls were going to win the game. But Hollins had blown his whistle, a late whistle, just as the shot was approaching the rim.
"When I heard the whistle, it was like 'What happened? Who fouled?'" Pippen recalls. "I didn't think I had made a foul."
Technically a player is defined as being in the act of shooting from the time he goes up for the shot until after he has landed back on the ground. Except, as even Davis admits, "That's a call you normally don't get."
Today, with concern about defenders sliding under shooters and causing injuries, it gets called more often. That wasn't the case back then, and certainly not with a playoff outcome riding on it. Steve Kerr had been hit the same way several times that year, his first with the Bulls, and never was sent to the free-throw line.
"I went to the ref every time and they said, 'It doesn't matter, the shot was released," Kerr says. "Back then it was not called. And every time I asked the ref, I got the exact same explanation: Once you release the shot it doesn't matter."
This time Davis was awarded two free throws. He made them both and the Knicks won. After the game, Phil Jackson didn't take any questions when he addressed the media. He made one statement that lasted exactly 38 seconds. His main point: "I've seen a lot of things happen in the NBA, but I've never seen anything happen like what happened at the end of the game."
The Knicks wound up winning the series in seven games.
"Have I ever seen a single call make a difference like that?" Pippen says. "No. Never ever. It cost us the whole series."