By Evan Grice
Normally when Brad Brucker’s name is mentioned around Piedmont, volleyball or girls’ soccer is usually associated with it in some form or fashion.
However, in the past few days, Brucker has become known more for his basketball skills, rather than just his coaching skills.
At the Oklahoma City Thunder game this past Thursday; Brucker sank a half-court shot which earned him and his wife Britney $20,000, and overnight celebrity status.
Ironically enough, the pieces to the moment which has now become a Piedmont sensation, were started when Coach Brucker left school late, meaning he couldn’t take Britney out for Tacos like they had originally planned.
“We were supposed to go to Fuzzy’s Tacos for our date night to begin with,” Brad said. “But, because my internet wasn’t working, I didn’t get to leave till late, which got Britney upset. So we decided to get some hot dogs and nachos at the game. Well, they told us that it would be about a 10-minute wait, and so we decided to go to another stand after that.”
“On the way to the next stand, we were approached by a Thunder executive and he asked me ‘Do you shoot baskets’? And I was like ‘No, I don’t.’ But, Britney then pulled me back and said told them I did shoot baskets. So we got interviewed and they made sure we were good on everything. They asked me if I was ever on a scholarship for basketball and I said ‘I’m 5’8” and white, I’ve never been on a basketball scholarship.’”
While much of the focus has been about the one shot that Coach Brucker made, in reality the shot almost never took place.
Before getting the opportunity to shoot for the money, Coach Brucker and his wife had to overcome another couple in a free throw competition just to qualify for the final round.
“My first thought was the other couple looked a lot more athletic than we did,” Brad said. “The important thing to mention is that Britney made three free-throws which helped us win, because we were behind. I couldn’t feel my arms the whole time. But, I would have never gotten to take the shot to begin with if Britney hadn’t of made those free throws.”
Once the Bruckers had advanced to the final round, Coach Brucker said he would be taking the half-court shot.
“I was afraid I wouldn’t even get it close to the rim,” Britney said about the possibility of taking the shot. “So it was an easy choice to let him shoot it.”
Moments later, Coach Brucker took three steps forward and released, only to see his shot bank off the backboard and fall in for the biggest basket of his life.
“My jaw was completely dropped,” Britney said. “You can even see it on the replay. I was originally supposed to leave the court before the shot happened. Rumble just grabbed me and brought me next to the drums on the court. It was cool though getting to be out there and experience it all as it happened.”
Coach Brucker added he didn’t even think it was real when he saw that he made the shot.
“I just looked at the square and tossed it at the square,” he said. “It felt like slow motion to be honest. This still doesn’t feel real. There was a few seconds span where it was like what just happened?! I told Britney she couldn’t hold me accountable for anything that happened after the basket. I just remember jumping, hand slapping and a bunch of other crazy things happening.”
As he was walking off the court, Coach Brucker was given a handshake and a hug from rapper and sports agent Jay-Z, who was sitting courtside at the Thunder game along with his wife Beyoncé.
“He (Jay-Z) pulled me in for a hug after I shook his hand,” Brad said. “That was pretty cool; I’m not going to lie. I wanted to say hi to Beyoncé, but I was afraid of getting run over by their security. He was a pretty cool guy and just shook my hand like any normal person. That wasn’t the biggest moment ever for me, but it was still fun. He did smell nice though.
Britney added that getting the embrace from Jay-Z was another thing that wasn’t originally supposed to happen following the shot.
“We were supposed to go off the court the same way we came in,” she said. “Jay-Z and Beyoncé were on the other side of the court. But, once the announcer started directing everyone to watch the replay, naturally everyone started walking over there towards them.”
Something that neither Brad nor Britney was expecting was the outpouring of support and attention that followed from friends, family, students and other members of the Piedmont community. On top of countless mentions on Twitter and Facebook, Coach Brucker was also featured on ESPN Sportscenter’s Top-10 plays of the night, along with being featured on ESPN.com.
“I always dreamed of getting on ESPN, just as a soccer player,” Coach Brucker joked. “But, for me that was better than the whole experience. I would trade all of it just to be on ESPN, which was a dream come true for me.”
“When my phone came back up on the way home, I had around 78 text messages,” Coach Brucker added. “The great thing is that everyone has been so supportive and positive. This has really let me know what people think about me as a person, and it’s very touching to see the response myself and Britney have gotten from everyone.”
Perhaps the only thing more fun for Coach Brucker was getting to apply this situation to his lesson plans in his personal finance and business class at Piedmont High School.
“I didn’t do anything different that I wouldn’t normally do,” He said. “It was just a chance to apply it in a cooler setting. To be honest, I’m more excited that Piedmont is getting exposure for all of this. I could care less if people know about me, I’m just happy to see Piedmont getting a lot of publicity.”