April 21, 2010
Los Angeles, Calif. - After nearly every practice, Cal State Northridge head basketball coach Bobby Braswell has the team attempt to make half-court baskets. After all, there will be a time when a half-court basket is needed to win a game at the buzzer.
For former Matador player Craig Calloway who played two seasons at CSUN (1999-00, 2000-01), the practice finally paid off ... nine years later.
Calloway, a 29-year-old transportation electrician who lives in Compton, was attending the Los Angeles Lakers-Oklahoma City Thunder NBA playoff game last Tuesday night when he was randomly selected from a Staples Center crowd of more than 20,000 to participate in the Mirage Big Shot Jackpot before the start of the fourth quarter. The task - simply make a half court shot on only one try.
With more than 20,000 fans watching, Calloway simply stepped up and buried the biggest shot of his life. The half court shot cleanly sailed through the net to earn Calloway a check for $235,000. Not bad for only a few seconds work.
Go to www.nba.com/lakers/news/1000420_miragebigshot.html to see Calloway's winning effort.
Calloway was interviewed after the making the difficult shot. The interview was made available from the Los Angeles Lakers website.
MT: First of all, congratulations. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Calloway: I'm from Compton, California, I'm 29 years of age. I played basketball, actually. I went to Long Beach Jordan High School, and California State Northridge after that. I'm a transportation electrician, local union 11, IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers). Intersections, street lights.
MT: Great. Take us through your halfcourt shot. Nice form, by the way...
MT: How does this change your life?
Calloway: Man, I'll tell you the honest to God truth: we're in the gym, we shoot, we start making them in close and like everyone else you start gradually getting further and further away. Everybody knows, the half court shot is the thing to shoot (Editor's note: Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar certainly agree). So you just sit there and shoot them. I just shot it the same way I do in the gym. That's all I know how to do, just shoot.
Calloway: Man, to be honest, the same thing. I'm going to keep doing the same things I've been doing. It's been working for me, I've made some changes in my life. Thanks to Mirage.
MT: Is this the kind of thing where you can take care of some things that have been hanging over your head? I know we all have bills to pay...
Calloway: That's exactly what I plan on doing, and not just mine, I want to take care of some of my family's as well.
MT: Some people would immediately take this money and think about what they could buy, but you seem focused on taking care of things and living your life the same way.
Calloway: Exactly. That's exactly right, all I want to do is clear my credit and help out some other family members, but I won't be high profile with it. I won't do it.
MT: I'm guessing you're a big Lakers fan, and as we do this interview, Kobe just hit back-to-back jumpers in the fourth quarter. That works, right?
Calloway: The atmosphere is unbelievable. The Lakers are playing a tough game and these young Thunder boys are playing tough. But I know you all can't hear me since Kobe hit an and-1!
MT: Back to the shot itself, you had a solid approach, I have to say. Kept the walk up short, went from the chest ... and then swish.
Calloway: To be honest, I thought it was short. I knew it was straight, but thought it was short ... but when I saw it, it seemed like something pushed it up and then it went straight through.
MT: What was your first thought when it went through?
Calloway: (pauses) I told you so. Ha. No, but I have so much confidence in myself, I relished the opportunity like this. You can only make or miss it, and I said, 'I'm gonna hit it!' I'm not going to tell myself, 'I might,' I'm gonna say that I can. And it happened.
MT: Congrats once again, awesome stuff Craig.
Calloway: Thanks to everyone, man.