In the age of Internet, thousands see mistakes
But after 700,000 views, Charlotte Christian's Ryan Potocnik is having the last laugh
02/19/2012 12:00 AM
02/21/2012 1:08 AM
You may have seen the video by now.
Charlotte Christian led Norcross (Ga.), 57-56, with less than a minute to play at the Hilton Invitational basketball tournament in Georgia on Jan. 21.
The Knights inbounded the ball to a sprinting Ryan Potocnik, who takes a couple steps and lays the ball up - into the wrong basket.
"It felt like something was wrong right when I hit it," said Potocnik, 18. "Everyone kind of got silent and didn't know what to do."
When one of his teammates came down and took the ball out of bounds, Potocnik realized what he had done. Down by one point, Christian still had a chance to win but missed a game-winning shot late. They lost by three.
The game was broadcast online. About 10 days after the game, the video started to circulate: it showed up on The Huffington Post and Yahoo! Sports along with countless other sports blogs. As of Wednesday, the YouTube video of Potocnik's shot had 703,511 views.
Some may know Potocnik only as the player shown scoring the game-winning basket for the wrong team, but there's a lot more to the Charlotte Christian senior.
Potocnik has been on varsity at Christian since his sophomore year. This year, he's the Knight's (23-6, 8-0 through Feb. 15) second-leading scorer, with 11.7 points per game, leading the team with 2.2 blocks and eight rebounds per game.
"He's a very consistent player; you can always count on him," said Christian coach Shonn Brown. "He's going to finish, he's always going to rebound, always going to defend, and I, personally, have never heard anything negative from him in practice or during a game."
Potocnik volunteers at Christian's basketball camp every summer and twice has gone on a school mission trip to the Dominican Republic. He plans to go again this summer.
The senior recently learned he is a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship and plans to study engineering in college. He hopes to play basketball, but only for a school with a good engineering program.
It was a bit of a surprise when the player who got a nearly perfect score on the ACT exam scored for the wrong team.
"The smart kid on the team, they don't expect him to make the dumbest play on the court," said Potocnik.
Brown said it was the kind of thing that could have happened to any player, and he doesn't blame Potocnik for the loss. The Knights were leading by nine points late in the game before turning the ball over several times and missing layups.
"He could have gone down and tomahawk dunked it for them, and if we don't turn the ball over we're still up seven," said Brown.
When teammates first found the video, Potocnik didn't want to watch it. When it went viral, he decided he should see it if the rest of the world was watching.
Potocnik's still not sure how he got turned around on the play, but he doesn't mind talking about it.
"There's no point in ignoring it ever happened," Potocnik said. "You have to kind of own up to it and talk about it, otherwise it just makes it worse."
Instead, he's used the play as motivation, having what he calls some of the best games of the season after the tournament.
Potocnik said the video is a joke with his teammates, but they haven't been too mean about it. He can't say the same for opposing fans.
In Charlotte Christian's game at Charlotte Latin on Feb. 7, the students put a sign behind the basket: "Charlotte Christian shoot this way."
In that game, Christian again lost a late lead. With the game tied at 65, Potocnik got the ball inside, turned and scored the game-winning layup - for the right team.
"It's hard to make fun of a kid that's beating your team," he said.
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