One-On-One With Gar Heard

As his 20-foot rainbow jumper fell from the Boston Garden rafters through the net as the buzzer sounded above the gasps of 15,320 Celtics faithful, Gar Heard forever etched himself in the hearts and minds of Suns fans everywhere.


Gar Heard hoists "The Shot Heard Around the World" in Game 5 of the 1976 Finals.
Heard's dramatic "Shot Heard Round The World" found its mark 25 years ago, sending Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals between the Suns and Celtics to a third overtime, extending the "Greatest Game Ever Played" for yet another five minutes. Heard scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while playing a team-high -- and NBA Finals record -- 61 minutes in that June 4, 1976 contest, but it was his heroics at the end of the second overtime that will forever be remembered.

Heard, acquired in the middle of that '75-76 "Sunderella" season, went on to play four more solid seasons for Phoenix, averaging 7.5 points and 7.1 boards over the course of his Suns career. Prior to joining the Suns, Heard played for Seattle, Chicago and Buffalo. He ended his career playing one season with the San Diego Clippers.

Since his playing days, Heard has established himself as one of the NBA's most respected coaches. Currently an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks, Heard has also served as a head coach with Dallas and Washington and has assisted in Indiana, Dallas, Philadelphia and Detroit. He began his coaching career in 1982 as an assistant at Arizona State University.

Throughout his NBA career, Heard has played for, or coached with, some of the league's all-time winningest coaches -- Jack Ramsay, Dick Motta, John MacLeod, Lenny Wilkens and Larry Brown.

Heard will join us on Monday, June 4 -- 25 years to the day of his historic shot -- to chat about that incredible Game 5, as well as his to share his thoughts and memories from an NBA career that has spanned 30 years.
Curious George from [209.219.240.156] at 2:04pm ET
What did you do immediately after that Game 5 finally ended?

Gar Heard at 2:05pm ET
Went to the hotel and fell asleep. It was a long night.
Barry from [209.219.240.156] at 2:05pm ET
How often do fans ask you about that Game 5 today?

Gar Heard at 2:05pm ET
Quite a bit now. Every time I go to Phoenix, that's the number one topic.
James from [209.219.240.156] at 2:05pm ET
How many times have you seen that Game 5 since you played it?

Gar Heard at 2:05pm ET
I watched it probably more within two or three years after the game was over than I do now. Now, I don't really watch it that much.
Scotty P from [209.219.240.156] at 2:06pm ET
What was the mood like in the locker room after that Game 5? Do you think losing that game deflated the Suns for Game 6?

Gar Heard at 2:06pm ET
No, it didn't. I thought that more than anything else, there was a lot of confidence. We were down big, then we came back and had a chance to win it, which gave us a lot of confidence.
Old School Jimmy from [207.108.154.116] at 2:06pm ET
When that shot left your hand, did you immediately know it was going in?

Gar Heard at 2:07pm ET
Well ... I can't say I did. I thought it had a chance, but what I was thinking was that we didn't have enough time to get it off.
Stan from [209.219.240.156] at 2:07pm ET
Were you the first option drawn up in the huddle at the end of the second OT? What were you thinking when you heard you'd be getting the ball?

Gar Heard at 2:07pm ET
Actually, Westphal was the first option, but if he didn't have a shot than I had a clear look at the top of the key.
Pete from [207.108.154.116] at 2:07pm ET
What former teammate did you enjoy playing with the most and why?

Gar Heard at 2:08pm ET
I could make a lot of guys upset ...

I enjoyed the Buffalo team because we were all pretty much the same age, kind of a young, exciting team, comparable to today's Sacramento team. It was a lot of fun.
Chad from [209.219.240.156] at 2:08pm ET
Do you still play ball at all now? Could you hit that shot again today if you had to?

Gar Heard at 2:08pm ET
I could hit a set shot, but my knees don't let me leave the floor anymore! I could probably make it three out of five times.
Curious George from [209.219.240.156] at 2:09pm ET
What were you guys and the Celtics saying to each other in those overtime periods? Was there any talking between players?

Gar Heard at 2:09pm ET
There really wasn't. The game was so competitive. Back in the 70s and 80s, there wasn't a lot of talking going on on the court. We just went out and competed.
Barry from [209.219.240.156] at 2:09pm ET
What did hitting the "Shot Heard Round the World" do for you in terms of your confidence?

Gar Heard at 2:10pm ET
I never lacked for confidence, that's for sure. But overall, I thought it not only did a lot for me in my career, but also did a lot for the Suns franchise.
Slammin' Joe from [207.108.154.116] at 2:10pm ET
You've coached Dikembe with the Hawks. How do you think Iverson, Mutombo and the Sixers will do against the defending NBA champs?

Gar Heard at 2:11pm ET
I have a lot of friends in Philly and I'd like to see them do well. I wouldn't be surprised if it turned into a very competitive series. I could see them winning a few games and maybe even the series, but I'm a little biased.
Amy from [209.219.240.156] at 2:11pm ET
When you were traded to Phx, did you have any idea it was an NBA Finals type of team?

Gar Heard at 2:12pm ET
No, I didn't. I thought the team in Buffalo had a much better chance. When I arrived in Phoenix, we were like 14-27, so I thought we didn't have a chance to make the playoffs. But then we started getting healthy, started winning, and played the best basketball in the league down the stretch.
James from [209.219.240.156] at 2:12pm ET
Everyone remembers your triple OT forcing shot, but do you have any other shots in your career that stand out as being wilder than that one for you?

Gar Heard at 2:13pm ET
I ended up blocking a shot against Golden State to win a playoff series. That was a big one that I like to look back on.
Celtic Fan from [64.61.7.170] at 2:13pm ET
Were you intimidated at all by the crowd at The Boston Garden. I've heard it got pretty rough in there that night!

Gar Heard at 2:14pm ET
The only time I was scared of the crowd was when they came out on the floor after the second overtime. You really enjoyed going into an arena with a hostile crowd so you could try and quiet them down. And they got really quiet after that second overtime.
Chris from [216.91.87.72] at 2:14pm ET
What coach has had the greatest impact on you as an individual.

Gar Heard at 2:15pm ET
I could go down the line. I've played for and worked for some great coaches. My high school coach motivated me more than anyone else, then I played with John McCeod in college. Then I had Lenny Wilkens when I got to the NBA, and he taught me a lot about the game. And I really loved working for Larry Brown.
Thomas from [137.240.240.244] at 2:15pm ET
What are you predictions for the 2001 draft?

Gar Heard at 2:16pm ET
A lot of high school kids. There's a lot of talent out there, and if you have the luxury to wait on some of those young kids for a couple years, you could really have something good. In Atlanta, we have the third pick, so we'll probably go with the best player available. But it may be a couple years down the road before you can really evaluate this draft. I like Eddie Griffin, and I've been really impressed with Shane Battier.
Jtmoney from [208.199.21.18] at 2:17pm ET
Hey Gar what do you think of MJ's and CB's return?

Gar Heard at 2:17pm ET
Well, I think I'm gonna start working out pretty soon...

I'd be surprised if Michael comes back. Charles, I don't know. He might give it a shot, but if Michael doesn't come back, Charles probably won't either.
Chris from [216.91.87.72] at 2:17pm ET
what advise would you give to the younger players of today?

Gar Heard at 2:18pm ET
I would tell them to come in and really learn the NBA game. Don't get discouraged when you're not getting the time you think you should. Just try to learn and progress. It'll take a couple years to adjust and get better in the NBA.
Ankle Boy Joe from [209.219.240.156] at 2:18pm ET
You talked about the crowd coming out onto the floor. What were thinking at that point? And are there any stories you can share about what went on at that moment?

Gar Heard at 2:19pm ET
I was scared! I don't think many people realize this, but there was a fan who was beating on one of the officials. It was crazy.
Amy from [209.219.240.156] at 2:19pm ET
Who was the toughest Celtic in that series for you guys to defend?

Gar Heard at 2:20pm ET
I thought Jo Jo White really hurt us consistently over the course of the series. But it wasn't just one guy. Paul Silas you had to constantly be aware of. Havlicek is capable of beating you at any time. You really couldn't go wrong on that team.
Li'l Penny Joe from [209.219.240.156] at 2:20pm ET
Did you have to help chase any fans out of the huddle or off the court at the end of that second overtime?

Gar Heard at 2:21pm ET
No, I didn't. I tried to stay away from that. At that point we were just so glad to be able to get into the third overtime. We just wanted to regroup and try to win the game. And actually, the fans coming on the court helped us because we didn't have any timeouts. So we were able to regroup and set up the shot.
Kathy B. from [207.108.154.116] at 2:21pm ET
Is there a game that you've been involved with as a player or coach that comes even close to comparing with that Game 5, or is it truly the greatest ever played?

Gar Heard at 2:22pm ET
I think it's the greatest ever played. Or at least the greatest second half ever played. But we had two double-OT games against Golden State in the previous series, and the one where we won was another of the most exciting games I've played in.
Suns fan from [207.108.154.116] at 2:22pm ET
What's your take on the Phoenix Suns and what do they need to improve on to get to the Finals again?

Gar Heard at 2:23pm ET
I think they need to get bigger, especially being in the West. They have one of the best guards in the league, and if they can get some size up front, then they'll have a chance.
Slammin Joe from [207.108.154.116] at 2:23pm ET
Do you want to become an NBA Head Coach again?

Gar Heard at 2:24pm ET
Yes, with the right team. A team that I get a chance to win some games with. I've had two stints, and neither one of those worked out well, mainly because it takes time to turn around a losing team. I enjoy the game, but I want it to be the right situation.
Chris from [216.91.87.72] at 2:24pm ET
What is your all-time lineup, including coach?

Gar Heard at 2:25pm ET
You'd probably have to go with Michael, Wilt, Kareem, Magic and Bird or Havlicek -- I can name about 10 guys right away who I'd want. There's been so many great ones. I think Michael, Wilt and Kareem would probably be the unanimous picks though. For the coach, probably Red Auerbach at the top.
Scotty P from [209.219.240.156] at 2:26pm ET
Do you have any memories or stories about that Game 5 you can share that maybe fans haven't heard before?

Gar Heard at 2:28pm ET
I think the one thing that stood out in that game for me was that I didn't realize I was on the court that long, and when the game ended, it was like 1 a.m., and we had a 6 a.m. wakeup. And it was one of those things where you were tired, but you couldn't sleep -- you just started thinking about the game and everything that could have been different. Then you start thinking, hey, I have to play again on Sunday at noon! At that time, we didn't think it would be one of the classic games, but it's just gotten bigger and bigger over the years. I think people remember me more for three seconds than they do for the rest of my career!

Gar Heard at 2:30pm ET
I just appreciate the opportunity to come out and talk about it and answer questions about the game for the fans. It's great for basketball, and it helps a lot of the old guys get back into NBA life. For me, the one thing people never ask me about this game is who won, which is great for me, because I don't want to answer that one! It's been great and I've really enjoyed it.

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