After he was fouled by Andrew Wiggins on a 3-point attempt with 1.9 seconds remaining, the Oakland Soliders player needed to make two free throws to give his team the lead. Bird split the first two.
Following a timeout, Bird walked out of the huddle and calmly made his way to the foul line. He got the ball; he didn’t miss.
Bird’s final free throw gave the Oakland Soldiers a 51-50 win over CIA Bounce and the Nike Peach Jam’s 17 & Under championship on Sunday.
“I’ve been clutch this whole tournament,” Bird said. “It’s right it finished this way.”
Bird had nine points in the game as the Oakland Soldiers hung on after Wiggins took over for a stretch.
Wiggins, the No. 1 recruit for the 2014 class, scored six quick points to put CIA Bounce up 50-47. His – and his team’s – final points came when he raced down the court for a layup. Though Wiggins scored 23 points and was the only player on his team to reach double figures, he was just 7 for 22 from the floor and also committed the huge late foul.
The wild end came after each team appeared to be in decent shape. The Oakland Soldiers had been up 11 in the second half but then fell behind by five during a 21-5 run, capped by CIA Bounce’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes hitting a 3-pointer
But the Oakland Soldiers battled.
“We’re soldiers,” Bird said. “That’s what we do – we fight.”
Aaron Gordon also played a key role for Oakland. The rising senior posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards and hit a 3-pointer not long before Wiggins went on his spurt.
Tyrell Robinson scored on a layup late and Bird then went to the line as the Peach Jam champions finished their week with a perfect 8-0 record.
“This team has a whole lot of heart,” Gordon said.