A year ago, Matt Ryan was a Door Dash driver, after his NBA contract had been waived by the Denver Nuggets.
On Monday, as he collapsed to the floor shooting a three-pointer for victory, he watched the flight of the ball with trepidation, convinced it would float wide.
“I thought it was left and I thought it was long. It was long, but it just happened to be pretty straight,” the 25-year-old told reporters afterwards.
Shot with two seconds left on the clock, Ryan’s three-pointer propelled the Boston Celtics to a 111-109 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Summer League – an offseason competition for rookies and affiliate players.
“We were actually trying to run a play, but we got it in quick and got in to me and there was no time to run a play at that point, so I just tried to get up a shot and I was happy it was in,” he said.
Ryan’s fledgling basketball career has so far had many highs and lows. He went undrafted in the 2020 NBA Draft, signed for the Denver Nuggets in 2021, but his contract was waived two weeks later. In February 2022, he signed for the Boston Celtics.
“It’s pretty emotional, it’s been a crazy 11 months. I was home for a year and a half,” he said before pausing to compose himself.
“I don’t know if you guys heard my story, but I was driving Door Dash a year ago. To be here, to be a part of the Boston Celtics is special. It’s special.”
Ryan’s contribution to the game, beyond his final effort, was considerable. He led scoring for the Celtics with 23 points, shooting 7-of-12 from the floor.
“I was in the gym, last year alone all year for like four or five hours alone waiting for an opportunity,” he said. “All those reps, all that work. I finally get a chance to show it.”