Trent Tucker, a former Flint Northwestern and University of Minnesota star, went on to a successful career as a role player and 3-point marksman off the bench for the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls during a 10-year NBA career.
But 20 years ago, on a Martin Luther King Jr. Day game between his Knicks and the Bulls, Tucker hit a shot that changed modern NBA rules. From the New York Times’ Off the Dribble blog:
“I caught it, turned to shoot and there was Pippen jumping out at me with those long arms,” Tucker said. He caught the pass, turned his body and somehow arced the shot over Pippen’s outstretched left arm. What came next was nothing but net and an explosion of noise.
Paul Mihalak, the lead official, consulted Ronnie Nunn, who was on the sideline, signaling the timekeeper, Bob Billings, when to start the clock. Nunn told Mihalak that, in his opinion, Tucker had released the shot before the buzzer.
The outcome stood. The Bulls trudged off while the Knicks, Tucker said, “got into the shower before they could call us back to replay the whole thing.”
That shot came with just a tenth of a second remaining on the clock, and after that season, spurred the NBA to enact the “Trent Tucker Rule.” Basically, that’s when the league decided that players could only catch and shoot the ball if there were three tenths of a second or more remaining on the clock. Anything below three tenths would have to be a tip because, the league deemed, in less than three tenths, it is impossible for a player to catch the ball and go through a natural shooting motion.
— By Patrick Hayes | Great Lakes Hoops