Horry Scale: Dirk Does It

VIDEO: Dirk’s Game Winner

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Juuuust when you thought we were out, they go and pull us back in. The season may be just past the halfway mark, but our record-setting pace is continuing, as tonight Dirk Nowitzki did his dagger-shooting thing to beat the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain why we’re here: What is the Horry Scale? For those who are new around these parts, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.

One thing I’d like to clear up: The Horry Scale does not measure a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater. So we’re talking about not only the shot, but also the play that creates the shot, the situation and the drama, the celebrations … basically, everything surrounding and including the shot. So when I gave Randy Foye a 3 Horry rating, that wasn’t only a reflection of his shot, which was admittedly remarkable, as I wrote, but also the play, which was awful. Taj Gibson’s lefty layup wasn’t the toughest shot, but that inbounds play was terrific. Basically, everything matters.

We all clear? OK, let’s break this shot down…

I feel like this is the part of this play that will be most overlooked. Yes, it was just a jump shot, and as far as play designs go, it wasn’t exactly the most complex play Rick Carlisle has ever inked out. But man was that a hard shot. I mean, if Carmelo Anthony was any closer to Dirk he could have untied his shoes. Dallas got the ball in to Dirk at top of key with the score tied at 108 and just 7.3 seconds left to play. Dirk caught the ball with his back to the basket, singled up against ‘Melo. Using his left foot as a pivot, Dirk rotated a full 360 degrees while ‘Melo sniped at the ball. He finally dribbled one time with his left hand, and jabbed his right foot forward just a bit to create a few inches of space. And with Carmelo basically chest-to-chest, Dirk raised up and released that textbook jump shot over ‘Melo with just under 2 seconds remaining. The ball hit the glass, the front of the rim, popped up into the air, and then gently settled back into the bucket. Again, not the most aesthetically pleasing play, but good grief what a tough shot.

This was perhaps an even tougher pill for Knicks fans to swallow because of the game situation. After being a mostly back-and-forth affair all evening, the Mavs seized the lead down the stretch. But give the Knicks credit for clawing back, mostly behind 44 points from ‘Melo. Down 6 with 1:12 to play, the Knicks got a three-point play from Chandler, a steal, and a three from Melo to tie the game at 108. Dallas had won 9 of 12 coming in, including two straight on the road. With the Knicks still clinging to hopes of getting into the playoffs, tonight was the kind of game they really had to win. To lose on a shot that bounced all over the rim before dropping in must be tough. But then, the Knicks have been on the other side of a similar situation before, right Allan Houston?

VIDEO: Knicks beat Heat in 1999 playoffs

Dirk seemed to mostly keep his cool, because this ain’t Dirk’s first time at the big shot rodeo. I loved the way Jose Calderon took off on a sprint up the court as the shot went through, and he grabbed Dirk in a bear hug to celebrate. Also, of late I’ve tried to incorporate fan reaction into the ratings, and Knicks fans did not disappoint, as you can see several of them with their hands to their heads in the background as the shot drops through.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 11.59.42 PM

And here’s a better look at some fan reactions to Dirk’s shot (h/t netw3rk & Kyle Weidie)


So it may not have been the best play design, but it was still a tough shot. It may not have been the most momentous game, or the most spirited reaction, but all together it was a pretty good play. So I’m going to go with three Horrys for this one…

horry-star horry-star horry-star

What say you? How many Horrys would you give Dirk Nowitzki’s GWBB?


  1. Max Rebo says:

    Two non-contenders, Melo on D, tie game with plenty of time to set up a play, lucky bounce….#c’mon now son….1 star MAX #realtalk

  2. BasketballGenius says:

    What is considered a one horry?

    • AI says:

      If you hit a buzzer beater with no one guarding you and the game has no significance (e.g., last game of the regular season and the playoff seeds are already set).

    • Ben says:

      When you are fouled as you tie the game with a buzzer beater and its your free throw that wins the game.

  3. kevin says:

    this series of jumping a game winner on horry stars is the lamest thing i keep seeing pop up…please find something new

  4. kevin says:


  5. ChocoTaco says:

    I think you should change the scoring system to “Dirks” after this shot…. the difficulty level was through the roof… he was getting mugged by Melo with no call. Has WORSE teammates around him than Melo which is why the NY D took the ball out of Dirk’s hands… He’s on the road.. and still managed to pull the game out. And didn’t even celebrate and was totally modest…. Legend.

  6. Legofil says:

    Tough, tough shot. Very nice shooters bounce too…This isn’t the first time Dirk does this haha.

  7. OldCelt says:

    As much as I love Dirk … game was tied, they aren’t losing anything if he misses. Two at best.

  8. Pas says:

    I’d reli prefer to rank these with stars instead of this “Horry Scale”, Horry is clutch and great and all that but it’s like ranking a dunk on “Nate Robinson Scale” or ranking a three with “Jason Kapono Scale” scale ..

  9. r says:

    this one should get an extra star for the way the ball bounced out and in

    but otherwise not too clutch, if he missed it would be OT so no pressure

    plus dirk is 1000000 times taller so it’s a little less impressive

    3 horrys is a good rating i like it

  10. ism says:

    What most people will not understand is that a ball rolling in like THAT is not a sign of luck but, contrary, evidence for a great shooter because even when his shot is not perfect it is still good enough to go in. This is the exact opposite of luck. Great shot vs. a great defense. I am OK with the 3 Horrys since this is a thing we’ve seen from Dirk before and the Mavs weren’t trailing.

  11. Ronny says:

    OK, so let’s see…You ranked Dirk’s shot the same as you ranked Randy Foye’s shot???

    Randy Foye:
    Difficulty = 30 foot 3 pointer at the buzzer (swish by the way)
    Game Situation = Need a 3 to win
    Celebration = Backpeddling, then slide-into-home by teammates
    Crowd reaction = Home crowd in Denver explosion

    Difficulty = I admit, tough shot but with a lucky “shooters” roll
    Game Situation = Tie game, going to OT if he misses
    Celebration = Mild fist pump
    Crowd reaction = Away game, and shock at the Garden

    Need to revise your scoring methods…

  12. I love to watch Dirk Nowitzki playing! He just fun to watch! Shots on one leg, falling down…etc. And this shot! Little luck ,but ..Luck is for Winners!

  13. KillerDancer says:

    Yeah, I noticed that Fan with the white sweater yesterday already. But its even nicer to see him up close. His face-expressions are great. First joy while thinking the ball is going out and then the horror. Just for that I give 4 Horrys.
    Put it on youtube under the title: “Dirk breaks Knicks-Fan’s Heart” and you it will get a lot of views.

  14. "taco bell buzzer beater"?!!!? says:

    Are you SERIOUS?? Am I the only one that saw the nba sold the headline to taco bell,”taco bell buzzer beater”? Well it seems this is my stop gentlemen, time for me to not visit the nba website anymore since they are getting just shameless at this point.

  15. Yotawna says:

    thought the best part was the lady in the lower left corner not using her courtside privileges.

  16. vinsanefan says:

    People need to chill a bit about the rankings. This isn’t supposed to be some scientific grading system that allows us to comparatively examine the overall impact and difficulty of game winning shots. It’s just a way to give us a closer look at the game winners and have a bit of fun.

  17. dustydreamnz says:

    I backed the Mavs but 1 star for me.

  18. dustydreamnz says:

    The commentators were saying he wants to play til he’s 40.

  19. Jonny says:

    Dont think i’ve seen anything but 3 horry’s be awarded. This isnt even close to Jeff Greens with 0.6 on the heat and yet they get the same rating

  20. Lucky Shot 7'0 guy says:

    Dirk shot = 3.0 stars
    if there was a 6″11 guy guarding this jump shot it would of been = 3.5
    if it was home and this game gave Dallas the 8th spot in playoffs = 4.0

    Randy Foye:
    Difficulty = 30 foot 3 pointer at the buzzer (swish by the way)
    Game Situation = Need a 3 to win
    Celebration = Backpeddling, then slide-into-home by teammates
    Crowd reaction = Home crowd in Denver explosion

    THAT was ——> 3.5 <———–

  21. GoMavs says:

    Dirk just showing us all how to be clutch once agin.

  22. Dirk is just the kind of clutch player that any team would love to have. He simply nailed that one with the most confidence and reliance to how a professional player should show in a last minute situation as that one. Go Mavs!