The play was one of a few hundred Friday that got lost in the excitement of the Bulls win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Lauri Markkanen's winning score and the first win for new Bulls coach Jim Boylen.
But Ryan Arcidiacono's steal, dive and save was an encouraging indication of the commitment of these Bulls players and shall we say, an archetype for the Bulls moving forward.
"I guess you can say it's a new team, but it's the still the same Ryan and it's the way I like to play," Arcidiacono was saying Saturday before the Bulls played the Boston Celtics. "I tell you (media) guys enough I try to be the hardest playing guy on the floor anytime I'm out there, so plays like that hopefully exemplify that. It's not a selfish thing of me trying to show I play hard. It's what I think I can give our team the best chance to win, show everyone I'll play for them and try to get our team a win.
"We value those type of energy plays because it gets our team going," said Arcidiacono, the undrafted Villanova guard who made the NBA through the Windy City Bulls. "We know anyone can score on the offensive end, but little plays like that give us an extra boost of energy."
Though overlooked, often like Arcidiacono, the play was one of the best and most instructive of the season.
With the Bulls leading 32-23 after Dennis Schroder missed a three point shot, Zach LaVine got the rebound and dribbled full court, then veered left down the lane toward the basket. Nerlens Noel tipped the ball away and it was picked up by Schroder, who eluded Robin Lopez' dive for the ball.
Arcidiacono was stationed in the left corner at the baseline, awaiting a potential drive and kick three-point attempt. Seeing the turnover, Arcidiacono began sprinting toward Schroder. Schroder was accelerating down the middle of the floor heading toward his basket with the ball. Arcidiacono chased up behind the speedy Schroder, who crossed the ball to his left hand with Jabari Parker ahead to his right. Arcidiacono came up behind and with his right hand tipped the ball away from Schroder forward.
"Just waiting for a drive and kick, play off Zach," said Arcidiacono. "He's so good at getting downhill, getting what he wants. Unfortunately turned it over. But as soon as anyone turns it over you are taught to sprint back and get back on defense and that's something I've always done in my career, try to catch dudes, tip the ball from behind; it's something we did a lot at Villanova."
That's when the play should have ended with the ball going out of bounds to the Thunder.
Which is what made the play special and unusual.
"Usually I wouldn't save it under my own basket," Arcidiacono related about one of those unwritten rules. "But I had a sense that we were going to get it, so I saved it and Jabari got it. Any chance I can to give our team a possession; I know possessions are very valuable."
Arcidiacono then as Schroder went down to try to retrieve the ball, Arcidiacono on Schroder's left dove ahead of Schroder—can someone dive faster than someone else?—and grabbed the ball with two hands, also sealing off Schroder from the ball with his body as Arcidiacono began sliding out of bounds.
"It would have been fine to set up our defense," said Arcidiacono, "but I had the sense to save it and thankfully Jabari was there."
Before reaching the end line, Arcidiacono began to roll on his back and tossed the ball back onto the court to Parker, who was pretty much watching aghast like the rest of us. As Arcidiacono lay on his back at the base of the basket stanchion, Parker dribbled ahead and passed to Chandler Hutchison. Hutchison drove and was fouled.
"We just talked to the team about that," Boylen said before the game. "That was the last thing I just said to them. To me, that's a play that instead of just playing with your team, you played for your team. That's a ‘for your team' play. Man, I love it. Those are the kind of plays when you're an old guy who loves basketball, that makes you want to play with your guys. That makes you want to put the uniform on. It was wonderful."