Buzzer beaters are some of the most exciting shots in the NBA, they have everyone on the edge of their seat.
If buzzer beaters have taught us anything, it is that a game isn’t over until the last second. These shots can make someone’s day or disappoint even the best expert NBA bets.
So we have compiled a chronologic list of some of the best buzzer beaters in NBA history to document these historic shots.
Table of Contents
1970, NBA Finals, Game 3, Jerry West
The first buzzer-beater on this list is only here because of a technicality. While the Lakers didn’t win the match, by today’s rules they would’ve.
This is because West shot an incredible 60-footer in order to tie the game, but back then there was no three-point line. If it was today’s rules then that shot would’ve won the game.
In overtime, the Nicks won. But in our hearts, it was the Lakers.
1976, NBA Finals, Game 5, Gar Heard
This is considered ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’. At 112-110 with 2 seconds left Gar managed to get the ball and shoot to a tie forcing the third overtime. The Celtics went on to win 128-126.
1986, Western Conference Finals, Game 5, Ralph Sampson
This is memorable for how smoothly the shot was done. Sampson managed to catch the ball, turn, and shoot his shot all before hitting the ground. With only 1 second left the ball bounced on the rim before going in.
1989, Eastern Conference 1st Round, Game 5, Michael Jordan
This buzzer-beater is also called ‘The Shot’. With only 3 seconds left on the clock, Jordan took an inbound pass and ran toward the throw line.
He took the shot just as the buzzer sounded giving the Bulls a 101-100 victory. This is the first time a buzzer-beater decided a winner-takes-all game.
1997, Western Conference Finals, Game 6, John Stockton
This buzzer-beater was important for Jazz as it is what gave them the victory they needed to reach the NBA finals for the first time.
While the Rockets had a 3-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter, a missed go-ahead gave Jazz a chance at victory.
This is when Stockton managed to score the game-winning 3-pointer.
2004, Western Conference Semi-Finals, Game 5, Derek Fisher
The game was a very late scoring match with the Spurs gaining a sudden lead at 73-72 with only 0.4 seconds left. Spurs were already celebrating their apparent victory.
It seemed as if nothing would happen in only 0.4 seconds but the Spurs held Bryant back just in case. The ball made its way over to Fisher who managed to hit a 20-footer to gain a 74-73.
The ball was just out of his hands as the buzzer went off.
2002, Western Conference Finals, Game 4, Robert Horry
While the Kings had an early lead with 20 points over the Lakers after the first quarter, the Lakers managed to bring it back to a 2-point deficit with 11 seconds left.
Both Bryant and O’Neal attempted to score but missed which is when the ball seemed to perfectly bounce towards Horry on the three-point line.
Horry made the shot giving the Lakers the 100-99 victory.
2014, Western Conference 1st Round, Game 6, Damian Lillard
It started as a close game with only 1 point between the 2 teams by the fourth quarter. With 0.9 seconds left the Rockets had a 2-point lead.
This is when Lillard managed to make himself free to catch the ball and throw a game-winning 3 points that were nothing but net.
This was the Blazers’ first playoff victory in 14 years.
2019, Western Conference 1st Round, Game 5, Damian Lillard
Lillard was off to a strong start scoring 34 points in the first half of the game and with 32 seconds left it was a tie game
A miss allowed the Trail Blazers to have the final shot and Lillard managed to score a 36-footer to win the game.
2019, Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Game 7, Kawhi Leonard
This is probably the most iconic buzzer-beater on this list, not just because of the amazing shot but because of what it meant to the team.
With 4 seconds left it was a tie game and the Raptors had the last shot. Leonard threw the ball to the net and it bounced on the rim 4 times before going in.
During those 4 bounces the whole stadium was holding their breath, it was enough time for Leonard to crouch down to the ground in anticipation. The whole crowd exploded as soon as the ball went into the net.
Unlike other buzzer beaters on this list, the Raptors went on to win the NBA finals and Leonard won the NBA finals MVP.
Time seems to slow when a ball is thrown just before the buzzer, everyone is waiting to see if a legendary shot will be made.
We are sure more buzzer beaters will happen in the future, they might be even more iconic than Kawhi Leonard’s legendary shot.