WHO: The great Boban Marjanović, and fans in attendance at Crypto.com Arena, in Los Angeles. 

WHAT: Two meaningless—but critical—missed free throws. 

WHY IT’S SO GREAT: This has been a somewhat forgettable season for casual fans of the Houston Rockets. The team, by virtue of its win over the playoff-bound Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, managed to avoid posting a fourth consecutive losing season, but it didn’t achieve its first winning season since 2019–20, either. With a 41–41 record, the Rockets merely climbed back to .500 this season. 

And yet! Fans in attendance at the season finale in L.A. had plenty to cheer about in the fourth quarter, despite the home team’s impending loss. Although Houston already had the game well in hand after the third quarter, the most engaging part of the contest came with 4:44 left in the game, with Houston up by eight points against the Clippers’ backups. Boban, the Rockets’ seven-four backup center, was fouled, stepped to the line, and missed his first free throw. No big deal! Happens to the best of them—even a career 76 percent shooter like Boban misses, roughly, one out of four free throw attempts. But the Clippers run a promotion, sponsored by Chick-fil-A, in which if the visiting team misses two consecutive free throws in the fourth quarter, each fan in attendance is rewarded with a free sandwich on their next visit to the fast-food chain. In an otherwise drama-free game, fans quickly rose to their feet, waving giant cardboard chicken sandwiches and shouting their excitement. 

Boban, who understands the value of a good brand partnership, seized the initiative. He looked out to the sea of faces, then pointed to himself. “Chicken’s on me,” he mouthed, then bounced a shot off the rim. The crowd erupted, grateful to have something to celebrate in those final minutes. 

Of course, the downtown L.A. arena and its fans were familiar to Boban. The Serbian big man has been with the Rockets since 2022, but he spent the 2018–19 NBA season with the Clippers, what was then his third stop in an NBA career that has since made him only the second player to suit up for at least one full season with each of the three Texas teams. In each city, Boban has emerged as a fan favorite. Thanks to moments like this, when there are chicken sandwiches on the line, it’s easy to understand why. When the time came for someone to step up, the big man delivered (free chicken). There are so many ways to be a hero.