Historic Finals in the NBA
Choosing five classic moments in NBA finals history are difficult as there were so many moments to choose between. But we trawled through some hand-picked NBA news and chose some greats, and here they are. In this blog, you will know about NBA Finals: 5 Top Moments In History.
1 – Boston Celtics defeat the Los Angeles Lakers
In seven games, the 1969 finals saw the Boston Celtics defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, taking the series 4-3. The game-winning shot came courtesy of Boston’s Don Nelson, who sunk a jumper to clinch the seventh and final game for his team, giving them their tenth championship that season with only one loss throughout its entire playoffs run.
Nelson had previously made another game-winning shot earlier in Game 7 of this series. But it was not enough this time as Jerry West’s 60-foot buzzer-beater sent this game into overtime. He tied up the game with two free throws after Sam Jones scored five straight points for Boston to tie up the game at 110 all at half court before West proceeded to mark his final points of the game, giving them a one-point lead.
This moment would prove to be West’s last appearance in an NBA Finals game. With thirty six seconds left in regulation and the Lakers down 105-99, West drove for what looked like an easy layup when suddenly Sam Jones stripped him of the ball, sending it out towards the center court. But with ten seconds remaining in regulation, Baylor got possession of the ball and passed it off to West, who took his chance at redemption by hitting a beautiful shot that was well beyond his prime but still very much satisfying for fans across the world.
2 – New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers
Like West’s 60 foot buzzer-beater in Game 7 of this series, Willis Reed had limped out onto the court to mark his return in Game 7 of the 1970 finals between his NY Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers.
He only had a few good minutes left in him, but that was enough time for Willis to get into scoring position and score four out of five points, giving them a 74-73 lead over the favored Lakers. His last shot came with 45 seconds left, giving New York a one-point lead which would eventually become their fourth championship after Jerry West missed two free throws with 14 seconds left on the clock.
3- Magic Johnson 1980 finals
Ten years later, we would see the 1980 finals. Magic Johnson filled in at center in Game 6 to win the championship vs. Sixers. After James Worthy was ejected for a flagrant foul on Sixers big man Caldwell Jones, he had entered the game.
With 30 seconds left, Lakers coach Pat Riley called a timeout while his team was down by five points to set up a possible tying shot from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who went 1-for-2 at the free-throw line.
In this final moment of the time out, Magic Johnson came up with an idea he ran through with his teammates. MJ took the ball and drove towards the basket after Kareem picked up his dribble, only to be stripped of the ball by Maurice Cheeks causing it to go out towards center court.
Then, Magic proceeded to take it upon himself and two defenders, reaching for an unlikely buzzer-beater that would inevitably become the ninth and last championship for his Lakers team.
Seven years on in 1987, and Magic Johnson’s skyhook in Game 4 sinks Celtics in Boston Garden. After being down by 6 points in the final quarter, the Lakers managed to take advantage of three consecutive turnovers from their opposition before Magic Johnson took it upon himself to seal the win with only 40 seconds remaining on the clock.
The round-up so far feels like MJ’s making history on his own.
4 – The 1988 finals
Michael Jordan sinks 11 straight points, including a game-winning jump shot vs. Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5.
This moment occurred during one of Michael Jordan’s first NBA Championships, where he would become one of the most influential players ever to play basketball.
With 48 seconds left and his team down by two points, he took off for a layup blocked by Craig Ehlo, who then proceeded to accidentally throw it out towards center court, where Jordan got possession of it and ended up getting it fouled by Ehlo with 24 seconds left.
As a result, Michael went on to score 10 straight points and sink the game-winning jump shot over Ehlo’s outstretched arm that would eventually become his first and only NBA Championship.
5 – Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns
In 1993, Game 1 of the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns ended in triple overtime after Charles Barkley missed a running layup attempt as time expired, giving them one point instead of two.
The Suns were leading at that moment but had lost their momentum due to fatigue, causing them to lose the next three games as well before mounting a comeback for four straight victories to claim the title with a 129-121 win in Game 6.
The best of the rest
The 2001 finals saw Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson hit a game-winning shot over then LA Lakers’ player Tyronn Lue to help his team clinch their first championship in 16 years since 1983.
2001 was also the Sixers last-ever championship win, despite their failure to make it past the second round of each year’s playoffs afterward, including during Iverson’s final season back in 2010.
However, he averaged 14.1 PPG and 2.5 APG before being traded mid-season to Denver, where he would later receive his MVP award after that same year for scoring 32 points per game while becoming one of the NBA’s greatest scorers of all time.
The 2005 finals saw Robert Horry hit five three-pointers in Game 5 as the Spurs managed to beat out Detroit by just two points, 85-83. Unlike other games that we will mention later, this one was very close, with both teams performing at their highest level throughout the series.
With scores like this, it seems like whichever team would take Game 5 would almost certainly win the championship.
This game was very significant for many reasons, mainly because it helped establish San Antonio as a team to look out for during this period when they were beginning to build up their Hall of Fame resume and its star player Tim Duncan. He earned his first ring back in 1999 despite having never won the MVP award.
The 2008 finals saw Boston’s Paul Pierce come through with two breakaway dunks that helped him give his team a 99-98 lead in game 6 of another series that went into double overtime.
Just when we all thought it was the end of Orlando, they sent the game into triple OT by scoring an incredible 18 points straight. The triple included back-to-back threes by Rafer Alston to give them their first-ever championship win since moving from Cleveland in 1994. He later went on to say how surprised he was at being so successful after being waived twice during the season.
But ultimately, this win couldn’t have happened without the efforts of Rashard Lewis, who scored 21 points per game throughout this series while making four out of Orlando’s six three-pointers during Game 6.
Finally, the 2016 Finals saw Kyrie Irving make a clutch three-pointer in Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors to give his team their first championship win in franchise history after 56 years since 1964.
2016 was also the Cavaliers’ third-ever ring and LeBron James’ seventh straight finals appearance. Although it wasn’t regarded as his best season to date, it has never been done before by any other player in NBA history.
At that moment, Cleveland had come back from being three games down to win it all, with LeBron having a triple-double for 22 points, ten rebounds, and 11 assists during this series while shooting 54% from the field overall.
The game took so many significant steps for basketball because not only did it see one of its biggest superstars come through for his team at its most crucial moment to help them secure a championship win. It also showed young kids that if you work hard enough, anything is possible because there will always be someone better than you.
All this success made LeBron the first player ever since Bill Russell back in 1969 to average a triple-double throughout an entire finals series which was regarded as one of his best seasons thus far. LeBron (The L-Train) became the only teamer in NBA history who has been on the winning side of both a Game 7 and a Game 3 during a finals series multiple times.
And finally, under pressure from Kevin Durant during this game, The L-Train managed to make more clutch shots than anyone else in the league’s history, which hopefully encourages all future aspirants who may one day have a chance at winning a championship ring of their own.