Last night, the Suns’ Markieff Morris was ejected for picking up his second technical foul after being fouled on his way to the basket by the Knicks’ J.R. Smith.
It was a bad call, and it led to a rare NBA happenstance: with the free throw shooter ejected, the opposing team gets to nominate one of his teammates to replace him at the line.
With the game taking place at Madison Square Garden, the home crowd (forever witty and attentive) made the most of the moment, rising in laughter and anticipation as public address announcer Mike Wolcheski (also among the league’s best) explained the situation.
Mike Woodson could not hide his grin as he nominated unknown second year player Viacheslav “Slava” Kravtsov to remove his sweat suit and head to the line, to the ironic cheers of the highly-amused Knicks fans.
Kravstov was an inspired choice for both comedy and basketball reasons. Not only is he a floppy-haired Eastern European who nobody had heard of, but he is also a terrible free throw shooter. Coming into last night, he had shot 14-for-43 (32.5%) from the line in 40 career games.
The announcement of the young Ukrainian’s name only added to the jocular buzz in the arena; it is the kind of name that would draw an extra-loud “WHO?!?!” from Birmingham City fans welcoming opposing substitutes to the pitch.
Impressively, the unfazed Kravstov managed to hit the first of the two foul shots to the delight of the Suns bench, and he left the court to good-natured cheers from the Garden crowd when subbed out at the first available opportunity.
Watch here to see the entire hilarious moment ensue and witness a trip to the free throw line that Krovstov will never forget:
Knicks fans will certainly remember his name.
In a long regular season, this is the type of light-hearted moment that keeps the journey enjoyable. Bravo, Knicks fans. Bravo, Krovstov.