Jaden Ivey invokes Chris Webber, calls timeout Pistons don't have in critical late-game scenario
Avert your eyes, Michigan basketball fans. Jaden Ivey pulled a Chris Webber on Wednesday.
The Pistons rookie was tasked with inbounding the ball with 9.7 seconds remaining in a game Detroit trailed the Chicago Bulls, 114-112. He couldn't find an open man and called a timeout. Standard procedure in a critical late-game situation. Except for one crucial detail.
An official blew the whistle, but not to grant a timeout. Ivey had just earned a technical foul for calling a timeout the Pistons didn't have.
Ivey triggers Michigan's collective PTSD with a costly excessive timeout call pic.twitter.com/yGh8YSRWGf
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Ivey tossed the ball to the sideline official, then raised his hands to his head having suddenly realized what he'd done. Pistons coach Dwane Casey immediately knew what was up. TV cameras caught him keeled over at the waist in exasperation at his rookie guard's mistake.
The blunder cost Detroit possession of the ball and sent Bulls guard Zach LaVine to the stripe for a technical free throw. He hit it to give Chicago a 3-point lead, and the Bulls held on for a 117-115 win.
Would the Pistons have won without Ivey's miscue? We'll never know. But the phantom timeout all but assured that they wouldn't.
This is all, of course, a painful reminder to Michigan basketball fans of a dramatically higher-stakes snafu by Webber when he was a sophomore for the Wolverines in 1993. Like Ivey, he called a timeout that Michigan didn't have in crunch time. Except his arrived during the national championship game against North Carolina.
Similar to Wednesday, Weber's Wolverines trailed by two at a critical juncture in the final seconds of the game when he made the mistake. He was whistled for a technical foul, and North Carolina held on to secure the national title.
Webber went on to a Hall of Fame career as a five-time All-NBA player. But the 1993 timeout remains the indelible moment of his basketball career.
Ivey's mistake on Wednesday for a last-place Pistons team seeking the NBA lottery riches of Victor Wembanyama obviously isn't as consequential. He'll move on as the error will fade as simply a rookie mistake.
But for fans of both the Pistons and Wolverines on Wednesday, it served up an unwelcome memory.