The "Valley-Oop" that resulted in the Phoenix Suns' Game 2 win over the LA Clippers in the 2021 Western Conference Finals is arguably one of the most thrilling game-winners in recent memory.
JAE CROWDER INBOUNDS IT TO DEANDRE AYTON FOR THE DUNK TO PUT THE @SUNS UP 2-0!#ThatsGame #NBAPlayoffs#WeAreTheValley pic.twitter.com/ltuQI6lxNl- NBA (@NBA) June 23, 2021
While Suns head coach Monty Williams drew up the perfect play that was executed to a T by Jae Crowder, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, the play might not have ever come to be if it weren't for Canadian Jay Triano, who, in 2021, is preparing for his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Hornets.
ONE PLAY: The details behind Ayton's game-winner
Immediately after the play was executed, a good chunk of reactions from the NBA Twitter world drew parallels to a play that Triano drew up for Tyson Chandler during his time as the Suns' interim head coach in December of 2017.
That looks familiar 👀- Tyson Chandler (@tysonchandler) June 23, 2021
Tyson Chandler slams it home to win the game for the @Suns!#SunsAt50 pic.twitter.com/8Ee7WqU6u7- NBA (@NBA) December 27, 2017
After Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, Triano appeared on the Lowe Post Podcast with Zach Lowe, where he discussed his reaction to the play and revealed that he may have never thought to draw up such an action had it not been for his time as the head coach of the Canadian Senior Men's National Team.
"Devin Booker's the only player that's still there and to see him excel the way that he is right now - and he knew the play," Triano told Lowe. "You could see the guys afterwards - Patrick Beverley, (Rajon) Rondo - these guys were all saying 'it's goaltending,' and sure enough, Booker's going 'no it's not. I've seen this before.' And that's one of the things that I taught this team.
"I would always go through special situations and I said 'there's no goaltending on an inbound pass because it can't count as a basket, therefore it can't be goaltended, so we ran it a couple of times."
Chandler said as much on Twitter, adding that Triano detailed the rule to him one day after practice.
Shout out to Coach Jay Triano! After practice 1 day he was kickin random NBA facts to me and was like " did you know theres no goaltending on a out of bounds play?" I was like really?? Nooo he said look it up.. 3 weeks later we found or selves in that situation- Tyson Chandler (@tysonchandler) June 23, 2021
Triano, who became the first Canadian-born head coach in NBA history in 2008, also spent two stints as the lead man for the Canadian National Team, coaching the group from 1998-2004 and from 2012-19. It was during his second stint that he learned to work around the inbound rule, as he detailed to Lowe.
"I actually got it from the Canadian National Team, because in the FIBA rules, once the ball hits the rim - and we had a kid by the name of Sim Bhullar - and Sim was 7-feet tall. We were playing against Mexico and I said, 'if there's ever a short clock, just put it up on the rim and Sim, you go up and offensive goaltend it because that's allowed,' and we did it one time, and the ball went in and it kind of hit his fingers on the way in. And we go 'ah, I don't know if that counts,' and I started thinking 'that probably does count' and then, the next year, I asked, when the referees come around and they do the individual breakdowns of the new rules, I asked them 'can you goaltend?' And they said, 'no, that would count as a basket. There's no such thing as goaltending on an inbound pass.' And I said 'ok, well don't tell anybody, because I'm gonna save that."
Who would have known that Phoenix's miraculous alley-oop might not have ever happened were it not for Triano, Bhullar and the Canadian National Team?
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