There has quite possibly never been a faster start to a game of basketball – any game of basketball, anywhere, ever – than the dunk thrown down by Derrick Williams at the onset of Valencia Basket’s victory at Khimki Moscow Region on Friday night.
And by saying ‘never, anywhere, ever’, we are not exaggerating.
Williams latched onto the loose ball from the opening tip-off, which fell kindly straight into his path and allowed him to sprint to the Khimki basket and throw down a big slam. Only 2.56 seconds had elapsed between Jordan Mickey getting his hand on the ball to start the clock and Williams dunking through the hoop…maybe, just maybe, giving the Valencia big man the honor of scoring the fastest basket in history.
Of course, it will never be possible to emphatically prove that Williams set an all-time record for the sport on Friday night. The vast majority of games, even at the professional level, were staged long before the days of television coverage and even fewer have the benefit of split-second timing tools, so it cannot be conclusively stated that nobody has ever scored a quicker basket. But we can surely consider it to be incredibly unlikely, because Williams is a very quick sprinter who had already set off towards the Khimki basket, was able to gather the ball without breaking stride and then immediately fly skywards to unload the dunk. Sending the ball through the hoop even more quickly would take a very strange, almost impossible, set of circumstances.
Whether or not he really was a history-maker, however, Williams certainly was a difference-maker on Friday night and his opening blast was an early – very early – sign of things to come. He continued to create a one-man highlight reel by producing a series of spectacular dunks on his way to a team-high 18 points, his personal best scoring tally during his first season with Valencia.
Having had the first word of the night, he fittingly also had the last word by scoring the final basket of the game with 29 seconds on the clock. That ensured Khimki’s brave late fightback would not be enough, allowing Valencia to claim an absolutely vital victory in its pursuit of a place in the playoffs.
In the context of this Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season, that victory for Valencia is the main story to emerge from Friday night’s game, because it could eventually make all the difference between reaching the post-season or not. But in the wider context of the history of basketball, Williams’ 2.56 seconds basket might just be something never seen before. And until it can be proven otherwise, perhaps we’ll just claim it.