Feb. 19, 2008 was my 21st birthday. Congratulations to me! Now I can legally buy beer. HOORAY BEER! (For those who’ve seen the Red Stripe Beer commercial)
During some part of my birthday, I took some time to reminisce over my memories and accomplishments in my life. Then I looked back at all of the NBA moments that I was fortunate to witness.
I wanted to share my greatest and most memorable ones, and see what others have to say as well.
Here are my Top Five Greatest NBA Moments:
5) 2000 Playoffs, Western Conference Finals, Game 7: Portland Trail Blazers @ Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers took a 3-1 series lead after winning both road games over Portland, but the Trail Blazers stormed back to tie the series, and were leading Game 7, 71-58 entering the fourth quarter.
The Blazers proceeded to miss 13 consecutive shots and lost complete control of the game. The Lakers tied the game 75-75, and after a few ties, took the lead for good after Kobe Bryant made two free throws to make it 81-79.
The Lakers completed the rally when Kobe threw a lob to Shaquille O’Neal for a thunderous dunk. O’Neal’s wide open eyes and fingers pointing to the sky was one of the most emphatic moments ever. That momentum propelled the Lakers to the first of three consecutive championships, which would eventually establish them as one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history.
4) 2006 Playoffs, Western Conference Semifinals: San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks
I had to include this playoff series because I am a Mavericks fan. The series featured two teams with the best records in West and very good defenses. I expected to watch a series of slow grind-out games and very low scoring, but there were many high scoring games, and almost every game was very competitive and close.
The Mavericks took a 3-1 series lead with a thrilling 123-118 overtime victory over the Spurs, but the Spurs were able to storm back to tie the series 3-3. In Game 7 the Mavericks built a 14-point halftime lead, but couldn’t maintain the momentum and saw themselves trailing by three points.
Dirk Nowitzki drove to the basket for a layup and was fouled by Manu Ginobli for a three-point play that sent the game into overtime. The Mavericks were able to contain Tim Duncan while pulling away and eventually won the series 4-3.
Nowitzki led his team with 37 points and 15 rebounds while Duncan had 41 points, 15 rebounds, and six assists. Both players had a spectacular series, but after years of futility in the Western Conference, it was the Mavericks’ moment to shine.
3) 2002 Playoffs, Western Conference Finals Series: Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers
This was probably the greatest playoff series that I’ve experienced in its entirety. The rivalry between the Kings and the Lakers was intense, and every single game came down to which team could make the most plays.
The series featured many dramatic moments, such as Game 4, when Robert Horry was at the right place at the right time to drain the game-winning three-pointer that allowed the Lakers to tie the series.
In Game 5 the Kings were back in Sacramento trying to retake the series lead. They found themselves down 91-90, but Mike Bibby came off a screen and hit a wide-open jumper that would eventually give the Kings a 92-91 victory, and gave them a 3-2 series lead.
In Game 6 the Lakers needed a win to force a seventh game, and Shaquille O’Neal delivered scoring 41 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. In Game 7 in Sacramento, the score went back-and-forth the entire game. Bibby hit two free throws to send the game into overtime, but the Kings missed too many free throws throughout the game and the Lakers won to take the series 4-3.
This series had all the moments you could ask for in the playoffs and it was definitely one of my greatest moments.
2) 1998 Playoffs, NBA Finals, Game 6: Chicago Bulls @ Utah Jazz
Although the Chicago Bulls led the series 3-2, the team was going back to face a confident Utah Jazz team that had beaten the Bulls in Game 5 in Chicago. With the series swinging back to the Delta Center, the Bulls were greeted by a hostile and energized crowd.
The game was very intense and physical. The Jazz rode the crowd and led for most of the game. Karl Malone was having another dominant game but Jordan was not going to be denied. In the final two minutes, Jordan scored all of the Bulls’ final eight points.
The key play was when Jordan stripped the ball from Malone when the Bulls were trailing 86-85. Jordan then calmly dribbled to the top of the key, crossed-over Byron Russell, and routinely drained a game-winning jumper with 5.2 seconds left, which eventually gave them an 87-86 championship victory.
It was the Bulls’ sixth championship in eight years and Jordan was given his sixth Finals MVP. That is perhaps the greatest lasting moment I’ll ever have of Michael Jordan.
1) 2006 Playoffs, First Round, Game 4: Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Lakers
The reason this game is my Greatest NBA Moment was because I was able to attend the game at Staples Center. The seats were at the top, but I had no problems seeing what was going on and the atmosphere in the arena was unbelievable. The game itself was extremely intense and competitive, despite Kobe Bryant being in some foul trouble.
The game appeared over when the Lakers were trailing 90-85 with 12.6 second left in the game. Smush Parker hit a three-pointer with 7.9 seconds left, but even then I remember my friend saying: “The game is over. They’re going to get it to Nash and he’s going to make both free throws.”
Parker came up with a steal and Devean George got to ball to Kobe, who shot a very difficult high-arching lay-up over the outstretched arms of Boris Diaw to tie the game at 90 and force overtime. The arena exploded and my friend and I went wild with everyone around us, still trying to grasp the sudden turn of events.
Overtime was even more heart-pounding. With the score tied at 95, Nash hit a three-pointer with 50 seconds left for a three-point lead. Kobe responded with a layup that cut the lead to a point.
My depressed friend said: “This time they’re going to get it to Nash and he’s going to make both free throws and Kobe will try to force a tough three-pointer to try and tie the game.” But when Luke Walton forced Nash into a jumpball at center court, everyone in the arena could sense what was going to happen...and then it really did happen.
Walton tapped the ball to Kobe Bryant with 6.1 seconds left. Kobe calmly dribbled the ball to his right, and then swished the game-winner over Raja Bell and Diaw. Again, the arena exploded, but seemingly louder than the first time. The cheering and chants of “MVP” were raining down long after the game was over.
Although I was disappointing that the Lakers eventually lost the series 4-3, I will never forget a moment of that game.
So what are your favorite moments of all time? Reply to this article, or edit and add your favorite moments.