The Palace was rocking on a late June night in 2005.
The Spurs and Pistons were tied 2-2 in the NBA Finals.
And after 52 minutes of a back-and-forth of the first truly competitive game in the series, the Pistons left the wrong person open at the worst possible moment.
Off an inbound play and return pass, Horry nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing in overtime, securing a 96-95 San Antonio victory and assuring the Spurs of home-court advantage, with Games 6 and 7 in Texas.
The Pistons played valiantly, winning Game 6, before falling short in Game 7 and missing out on back-to-back titles.
That was the last time the Pistons played on the NBA's biggest stage.
The Spurs, however, are on the cusp of returning there again — if they beat the young Thunder in the Western Conference finals.
How can the Spurs still be among the elite while the Pistons are rebuilding?
The answer is simple: The Spurs have strong leadership from the top down — and a little luck.
Three years after the Spurs and Pistons met in The Finals, both reached their conference finals.
And both were ousted.
The Pistons collapsed in the final six minutes at home in Game 6 against the Celtics and lost the series 4-2.
The Spurs were dispatched in five games by the Lakers, and looked old the next three seasons, losing twice in the first round — last year they were the third No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 8 in history — sandwiched between a sweep at the hands of the Suns in the second round.
So most experts believed the Spurs would take a couple steps back.
It helps to have Tim Duncan, arguably the best power forward in history, who could be on his way to tying Kobe Bryant as the greatest champion of the post-Michael Jordan era. And, Gregg Popovich is as respected a coach this league has seen since Phil Jackson — without the drama.
But the Spurs also had a foundation.
Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker joined Duncan as the core in 2005 — and remain the headliners today.
Parker, then 22 years old, struggled in the 2005 Finals against the veteran Chauncey Billups. But Parker has raised his game and become the most dependable player for the Spurs, even taking the mantle from Duncan.
Coaching conveyor belt
As for the Pistons …
It starts with the coaching.
In 2005, the man patrolling the sideline was Larry Brown, who was itching to leave even during his team's playoff run, talking to the Cavaliers about their president position.
"It really didn't bother us," Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince said. "We were a veteran club, we knew what we had to do. We didn't really care."
But after Brown left, the coaching carousel began.
Flip Saunders was the best coach on the market at that time, having been let go by the Timberwolves. But he seemed ill-equipped to handle the strong personalities on the floor and didn't carry the same presence and respect Brown did, and the Pistons lost in Game 6 of the conference finals each of the next three years.
Saunders was replaced by Michael Curry (one season), making way for the ill-fated John Kuester experience before the team landed Lawrence Frank, who completed his first season.
After owner Bill Davidson died, his widow kept the purse strings tight while pursuing a sale, which was completed last offseason to Tom Gores.
Still, instability led to inconsistency.
Pistons president Joe Dumars has worked for three owners since the title run -- Bill Davidson, Karen Davidson and Gores -- and has had several executives leave for other jobs (Tony Ronzone, John Hammond) without replacing them. Current VP Scott Perry was Director of Player Personnel before leaving for Seattle and was brought back after Hammond departed.
As for the players, Billups was traded in 2008, Ben Wallace left via free agency after the next season, and Rasheed Wallace left after the 2008-09 season.
Prince and Richard Hamilton received well-earned extensions, which ate away at depth.
Skill-wise, the players the Pistons acquired in 2009 (Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Austin Daye) aren't dissimilar from what the Spurs have: shooters that can spread the floor and score in bunches.
But for whatever reason, it hasn't worked in Detroit, and San Antonio no longer is the grind-it-out team that won the 2005 slugfest.
The bottom line is this: Unless all three facets of an organization are in lockstep, maintaining a run as impressive as what the Spurs are on, is nearly impossible.