On a night when the Lakers hit a season-high 17 3-pointers, it was a fan from Tulare, Calif., who made the biggest long-distance shot of them all.
Jerald Acoba took center stage between the third and fourth quarters as part of the Aria Big Shot Jackpot and immediately began waving his arms to fire up the sold-out Staples Center crowd.
The 30-year-old gave it a heave from halfcourt and watched as the ball briefly spun around the rim before falling through for the $95,000 prize.
Acoba celebrated with the Lakers themselves, as Nick Young, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell all came over to congratulate him. Acoba even broke out Russell’s trademark “ice in my veins” celebration.
“It’s good to see a lot of fans keeping that ‘ice in the veins’ going,” Russell said after the game. “I appreciate everybody for that. That’s a lot of money, man. Take care of it.”
Immediately after, he told the crowd his plans for the money: buy his mom a new car.
Acoba said that her current van has gotten old and that he wants to upgrade it for her.
“She’s always been there for me when I need her,” Acoba said. “She’s always there to help me out. It’s my turn to repay the favor to her.”
While his mom was at home, Acoba attended the game with his wife, Lenslie, and his nieces. They were taking pictures with the Laker Girls before the game when asked if he wanted to be the one to take the shot.
Acoba’s soon-to-be-college-aged nieces joked that he should “just pay our tuition” if he made it, but even Lenslie admitted that the odds were against her husband.
A few hours later, she found herself on the phone with his family back home who were watching it all unfold on TV.
“It’s surreal right now,” Jerald said. “I can’t believe it’s just happening right now.”