The Top 20 Games in NBA History
The stretch towards the off-season finish line is slowly approaching, but the distance from here to there is too long to withstand.
The ache and pains of watching countless reruns on NBA TV is getting too much to handle. The games that they have shown are not that fascinating. Unless you’re interested in Kwame Brown's first ever professional basketball game, the games have been weak.
But as I sat there watching Brown make a fool at of himself, I blanked out into the wondrous history of the NBA. More specifically the many games played that altered the game of the sport in some way.
Where have those days gone?
As we enter the 2009-2010 season of the National Basketball Association, I have decided to recap the top 20 games in NBA history.
So without further ado, buckle your seatbelts. A blast from the past is guaranteed.
20 - Twin Towers Win First Title
The Twin Towers were the spark that helped the San Antonio Spurs become the team that they are today.
The importance of the tandem of David Robinson and Tim Duncan can very well be felt in today's basketball play.
There wouldn't be a well rounded Tim Duncan if David Robinson had not played for the Spurs. There wouldn't have been a talented Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli without a Duncan either.
The chain is continuous.
Their run for the 1999 championship title would finish off with a 15-2 record; second best in NBA history. Duncan was named Final's MVP, an award that would appear again with the Spurs in 2003.
19 - Walton's Night
Riddled by injury most of his career, it was really hard to see what Bill Walton was made of. Fortunately for Portland, Walton would unleash his best during the 1977 Finals.
For the Portland Trail Blazers, winning a championship was all but a dream, but when the Blazers swept the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals to proceed to the NBA Finals, it would only be fuel for a thirsty Blazer-mania tank.
Game six of the Finals would prove to be Walton's finest game.
He netted 20 points, grabbed 23 rebounds, blocked the ball eight times, and dished the rock seven times.
His play that night helped a new franchise reach to the top, proving that anything can happen in the NBA.
18 - Eighth Seed Nuggets Upset First Seed Sonics
The rare occurrence of an eighth seed upsetting a first seed has only happened three times in NBA history.
And even though the Dallas/Golden State made many fans wet themselves, you always have to reference the very first set.
During the 1993-1994 playoffs, the first seed Seattle Sonics squared off against the eighth seed Denver Nuggets; a one sided series was expected.
However, that was not the case.
Sonics easily won the first two games on home turf, but with care-free coach Dan Issel, the Nuggets were headed into the history books.
Game six would go to an overtime nail biter due to Kendall Gill's last second lay-up. An extra five minutes was granted, but it only postponed the improbable. Denver won the game, 98-94, in overtime.
"I don't like to be rude, but these are the playoffs. Nobody invites you into their house. You just have to go in and get comfortable."
Mutombo, words never sounded so true.
17 - Stockton's Seals the Deal
The biggest shot in John Stockton's life would prove to be the most memorable in Utah Jazz history.
Down by 13 points in the final quarter of game six against the Houston Rockets, the Utah Jazz were in desperate need of some offensive fire power. Luckily for them, John Stockton brought his ''A'' game.
Stockton scored 15 of his game high 25 points to help rally the Jazz back into the game. He netted nine of his final team's points, which included his magnificent three point snipe.
Tied at 100 a piece, the Jazz inbounded the ball just before half court. Stockton came off a screen from forward Karl Malone and was left wide open to receive the inbound from Bryon Russell.
Three steps forward and he squared up for the shot. Charles Barkley was too late in recovering and the rest is history.
16 - Point Frenzy
Although the picture to the left might not be as clear as I would have hoped for, it tells a story just as well as any other action shot.
The points scored during the Pistons-Nuggets game during early December of 1983 proved to be one for the books.
It took three overtimes to seal the game and with a combined total of 370 points, the Pistons came out victorious with a 186-184 win.
The game brought six Pistons into double figures and six Nuggets into double figures. The teams shot a combined 142-for-251 (.566) from the field.
15 - Reggie Miller's 25-Point Quarter
I guess you could say that the relationship between forward Reggie Miller and Knicks fan Spike Lee has had its rough patches in the past. Through in the verbal exchanges and the multiple taunts, and you've got yourself one heck of a feud.
But not one of their feuds could top the drama that unravelled during Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals.
Reggie Miller went to work that night, draining a playoff record five 3 - pointers in the final quarter of play. The fourth quarter would hold Miller's offensive strike when he scored 25 of his game high 39 points.
The brutal assault gave the Indiana Pacers a 93-86 victory over the New York Knicks.
Easily one of the greatest playoff performances of all time.
14 - Bird, Wilkins Trade Buckets
Now some might not consider this game to worthy of top 20 discussions, but believe me when I say that "these two superstars gave their fans a show."
And isn't that one of the reasons why professional basketball players play the sport? To entertain fans?
Anyways, Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference Finals showcased the talents of forward Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins.
As the game entered the fourth quarter, the score was tied at 86 apiece. With ten minutes left in the game, the two all-stars controlled the game and played at their own pace.
Bird went on to win the game with his 34 points, but if there was an MVP award to be awarded to any player during the course of the game, hands down it would belong to Wilkins. His 47 points were very well needed in this stomach churning match-up.
13 - Jordan Sinks Jazz
Who better to have the ball in a situation like this than Michael Jordan?
What many considered Michael Jordan's last shot of his career; he sure did finish it with a high note.
The pivotal Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals had everyone in the Delta Center on their feet. The game came down to the last six seconds. The Chicago Bulls had a chance to win the game.
Everyone in the entire stadium knew that the ball was directed to Jordan. All that was unknown was how he was going to shoot the ball.
Receiving the ball, Jordan made his way to the top of the key with Byron Russell tightly close. Once at his desired destination, a cross over (with a slight push) helped free Jordan for a wide open 20 foot jump shot.
Swish! The Bulls win their sixth title, second three-peat.
12 - "Havlicek Stole The Ball!"
Commentary was forever changed after this game.
The Philadelphia 76ers had a chance to win the game with the score at 110-109 for the home team, Boston Celtics. An inbound play was the only hope for a win.
With five seconds remaining on the clock, the inbound pass was situated underneath the basket. Hal Greer's pass that was intended for Chet Walker was stolen by John Havlicek, who passed it on to Sam Jones.
"Greer is putting the ball into play. He gets it out deep. Havlicek steals it. Over to Sam Jones. Havlicek stole the ball! It's all over. Johnny Havlicek stole the ball!"
The steal sealed Boston's seventh straight NBA championship.
11 - Russell's Final Title
Hosting Boston on home turf, the Los Angeles Lakers were confident that they would take Game 7 and win the championship. The confidence that the Lakers had was so high that they even arranged balloons to descend from the ceiling after they win the game.
Serving as head coach and player at the time, Bill Russell's Boston Celtics had a mediocre regular season. Entering the Finals was tough stretch for the Celtics, especially when facing a blistering hot Laker squad.
A late jumper from Don Nelson helped lift the Boston Celtics over the Lakers with a 108-106 victory.
For the final time, Bill Russell walked off the court with a title.
The Celtics' 11th in 13 years.
10 - Paxson's Dials From Downtown
Role players. Can't live without them.
Michael Jordan may have won six NBA Finals MVP awards, but it was an unexpected hero who gave Chicago its first "three-peat" in the 1990s.
The series had shifted to the America West Arena in Phoenix. It was Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals.
The series was a blockbuster. A triple overtime game and two 40 plus point games from Jordan himself made the base for this fantastic series. And yet, Game 6 would prove to be another barn burner.
Chicago was ahead of Phoenix 87-79 after three quarters. A fourth quarter rally, however, brought the Suns on top 98-94.
Jordan soon made it a two point game, and was a clear target for the game winning shot. Instead, forward Horace Grant found an open John Paxson with his toes behind the three-point line.
For Paxson it was a special three-point shot that helped propel the Chicago Bulls into the history books.
9 - Celtics, Suns Stage Instant Classic
Considered the greatest game ever played in NBA history, the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns staged an instant classic.
A lot was at stake during a Game 5 match against the Celtics and Suns. A victory gave the winners a 3-2 advantage in the series. A win guaranteed the next game as a championship game for the winners.
During the first overtime, Boston's Paul Silas motioned for a timeout. The timeout would have represented a technical foul, but the referee decided to ignore the call and have the play continue.
The second overtime proved to be interesting. A 15-foot bank shot by John Havlicek, at the end of the second overtime appeared to big the Celtics a one point win. Instead, one second was put on the clock.
Using strategic planning, Suns' Paul Westphal signalled for a timeout, knowing that his team did not have any left. A technical foul was called and Boston was granted one shot.
After making the shot, the Suns were presented with the ball at midcourt with one second on the clock. Gar Heard made the plan pay off. His jumper at the horn forced a third overtime.
Looking for bench support, Boston threw in Glenn McDonald and they watched him score six points in the final overtime to give Boston a Game 5 victory.
They wrap up the series two days later in Phoenix.
8 - Kareem Crowned All-Time Scoring King
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
In this case, it was sort of hard to contain such actions into one city. The news was just too big for the city to handle, let alone the NBA universe.
In hopes to recruiting new fans, the Utah Jazz scheduled 11 games in America's gambling capital, Las Vegas. The game against the Los Angeles Lakers would prove to be something historic.
Using his patent sky-hook shot from mid-range, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar broke Wilt Chamberlain's all time points’ record. The shot raised his career total to 31'420 points.
7 - Magic Plays All Positions
"I don't even know if Kareem could have done the things Magic did tonight," said Philadelphia 76ers star Julius Erving. Not another comment could classify what happened in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals.
Standing at 6'8", Magic Johnson was a 20 year old rookie straight out of the halls of Michigan State. All they wanted him to do was fill in for injured centre and superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He seemed to "over exceed" his duty.
Magic played all five positions that night during various stages of the game. He netted 42 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and distributed seven assists.
The Lakers went on to win the game. Magic earned his first NBA title with a 123-107 victory.
6 - Reed Inspires Knicks To A Win
It was a thigh injury that sidelined Willis Reed for Game 6 of the 1970 NBA Finals, and while Game 7 was slowly approaching, many Knicks' fans were curious about their superstar's status.
He was absent during the Game 7 warm-ups; a sure sign that Reed was out for the game.
Until, a cheer of fans slowly began to erupt in Madison Square Garden.
Hobbling from the locker room to the hardwood surface, Willis Reed took his position on the court. He took the opening tip against Wilt Chamberlain and scored his team's first two baskets.
Although he was pulled off sonly after his second basket, his inspiration and courage was enough energy to help boost his New York Knicks past the Los Angeles Lakers.
That and Walt Frazier’s 30 plus point performance.
5 - Larry Legend Steals The Ball
Boston Garden. May 26, 1987.
All but the very young fans of the Boston Celtics remember where they were on that specific date, when Larry "Legend" Bird stole the ball.
The steal that shook the result of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals in 1987, and quite possibly one of the most dramatic endings to a playoff game in the history of the NBA.
The Detroit Pistons were in the comfort zone. Up by one (107-106), had possession, and only needed to inbound the ball to run down the clock.
All they needed to do was inbound the ball.
The eye contact made between in bounder Isiah Thomas and alleged receiver Bill Laimbeer was Bird's break. Bird cut in front of the Pistons' center, intercepting the pass. He dished it off to the cutting Dennis Johnson and the Celtics won the game.
They would go off to win the Eastern Conference Finals.
4 - "The Shot"
There was Rick Barry's underhand toss and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's sky hook. There is Shawn Marion's push and Jason Kapono's rapid fire. But no shot can top "the Shot."
The NBA first-round assured to be a classic. To further support this statement, Game 5 of the Chicago/Cleveland series was one heck of a game.
Near the final seconds, the Cavaliers led the deciding game 100-99 on their home court. The Bulls had just seconds to look for a final shot.
As he dribbled from the right toward the middle, Michael Jordan was picking his spot. He found his spot and leapt in the air. An 18 ft. jumper swished through the net over the fingertips of Craig Ehlo.
A few fist pumps, and a highlight reel play was complete.
3 - Magical Hook Shot
The Boston Garden.
Home of countless basketball moments, but one that many Celtics' fans hope that never occurred turns out to be ranked high of the list.
Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals shifted to Boston, Massachusetts where the hometown heroes looked for a win that would level the series at two games.
The game came down to the wire, but with a 106-105 lead for the Boston Celtics, all that needed to be executed was well played defence. Unfortunately for Boston, guard Magic Johnson had a trick up his sleeve.
After receiving an inbound pass from the left, Johnson squared up and looked to shoot. With forward Kevin McHale in his grill, Johnson cut for the middle.
A defensive intelligent Robert Parish helped his teammate to try and stop any further penetration. As he reached the centre of the key, Magic Johnson tossed a running hook shot.
It went through the twin.
An unsuccessful Larry Bird buzzer beater gave the Los Angeles Lakers a107-106 victory, and a lethal 3-1 series lead.
2 - The Flu Game
When we talk about vintage Michael Jordan games, the "Flu Game" often appears on the top of that list. The game might be considered underrated, but was it ever an important game for the Chicago Bulls.
Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, against the Utah Jazz, had speculation straight off the top. Twenty-four hours before the game, news broke out that Jordan woke up nauseated and was sweating in buckets.
Sick or healthy, Jordan was ready to play and was heavily relied on to go to work. The first quarter showed a weak and motionless Jordan, which enabled the Utah Jazz to take an early 16 point lead.
The second quarter proved to be Jordan's turning point. He started to knock shots down and helped his team. He scored 17 points in the quarter alone.
The game varied tempo. The Utah Jazz held the Chicago Bulls in the third quarter, but when the fourth quarter came around, Jordan went off for 15 points.
Part of those points came from his heroic three point shot from teammate Toni Kukoc. John Stockton's attempt to win the game failed after missing a three pointer.
The Bulls won the game 90-88. Jordan had 38 points with 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
Michael Jordan's courage and heart helped boost the Bulls to a championship win.
1 - Chamberlain Does The Unthinkable
A monumental achievement.
Wilt "the Stilt" Chamberlain was simply an unstoppable giant. His size was too much for others to handle and his ability to work down in the post was classic.
But on March 2, 1962, Chamberlain's reputation would be put to the test.
Out with the flu, Knicks' centre Phil Jordan was sidelined for their game with Chamberlain and the Philadelphia Warriors. Taking full advantage of the lucky situation, the Philadelphia game plan was simple: feed Chamberlain at every opportunity.
Chamberlain took over the first half with 41 points, and added 28 more points during the third quarter for 69 points. His previous NBA record of 78 points was going to be broken, but by how much?
His teammates stopped the clock with their constant fouls to give their big man more chances to reach the peak. With only 46 seconds left on the clock, Chamberlain converted from short range for his 100th point.