By Ben Golliver
LeBron James' hold on the "most heart-warming half-court shot moment of 2013" title lasted less than two months.
When the Heat forward tackled a fan to celebrate a half-court hook shot that won $75,000, it seemed exceedingly unlikely that the NBA would produce a better dead-ball, mid-court, fan-centric image. Think again.
Oklahoma City fan Heath Kufahl, a high school basketball coach and father of seven, nailed a halfcourt shot -- all net -- to win $20,000 between the third and fourth quarters of the Thunder's 122-105 win over the Lakers on Tuesday night. Dressed in a blue Thunder jersey and with his wife, Jenni, standing by, Kufahl stepped straight into his try, burying it without any hesitation. The shot sent Kufahl dashing around the court in celebration and literally dropped his wife's jaw.
The sweetest part: Kufahl plans to use the money to help pay medical bills incurred during his wife's recent battle with cancer, according to The Oklahoman.
It's always cool to see someone make that shot, but for the Kufahls and their seven children, it means a bit more: Heath's wife, Jenni, was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in October of 2012. The money will be used for mounting medical bills.
The Tulsa World has more on Kufahl.
Kufahl is incredibly deserving not only because he's supporting a family of eight on a teacher's salary, but also because his wife, Jenni, was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer last fall. She has been undergoing chemo treatments but received a good report last month that her tumors have shrunk and no new cancer was discovered.A great few months for half-court shots just ascended to a whole new level. Back in January, a Hawks season ticket-holder named Kevin had a chance to win $1,000 by hitting a half-court shot, only to have his attempt come to rest, impossibly, on the back of the rim. In February, a Clippers fan hit a half-court shot for a new car.
Kufahl, who grew up in the Tulsa area, was one of my favorite high school teachers and my newspaper adviser who got me into journalism. It doesn't surprise me that he would hit a half-court shot, something he's undoubtedly practiced countless times. Every day in my freshman keyboarding class he would try to qualify for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" He's not a millionaire, but $20,000 will certainly help with medical bills.