Undrafted out of Towson University in 2007, Gary Neal spent several seasons playing pro ball in Turkey, Spain and Italy before the San Antonio Spurs offered him a chance to play on their summer league team three years ago. From the Baltimore area, the 6-foot-4 guard starred at Aberdeen High before transferring to Calvert Hall.
Now 28, Neal was a major contributor to the Spurs this regular season, averaging 9.5 points per game, two rebounds and two assists. But never more so than Tuesday night when he got off to a fast start and dropped 24 points on the Miami Heat, staking the Spurs to a 2-1 lead on the best-of-seven NBA Finals.
Neal's hot shooting included hitting six of 10 attempts from behind the three-point arc.
“He's a professional,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters afterwards. “And he's a quality individual, and he made himself ready and he really helped us tonight, obviously.”
“I think to play this game of basketball, you have to believe that your abilities are just as good as other guys',” Neal said. “I mean, I felt like I had the ability to play in the NBA. It was just a matter of just getting the right opportunity."
A post-game interview with Neal by ESPN's Stuart Scott can be found here.