From Elgin Baylor to Tommy Heinsohn to Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal, the NBA's history of amazing "one-man-team" performances during the playoffs spans decades and has produced some jaw-dropping moments.
Not only are some of the greatest players of all time on this list, but there are also some surprises that proved to be either an arrival or a punctuation for that player's career, simultaneously putting NBA fans on notice and greatly increasing that player's league-wide esteem.
For the record, a virtuosic performance is noted as one in which the players did a noteworthy job in two or more categories, such as points and rebounds, rebounds and steals or three-pointers and steals.
The stat-worthy accomplishments of players like Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain have been omitted from this list because their playoff games, which by today's rebounding standards are off-the-charts fantastic, were in their time not so far above their season averages, and therefore did not particularly standout given their time and place in basketball.
So without further ado, let's see some magic appear on the NBA hardwood.
Here's a little back story.
Considering they were down 2-0 facing the clinching game, this was plain stupid.
Sure, Barkley may have looked like a punk, with his shaved head and authority-be-damned demeanor, but that night he proved otherwise. Oh, he proved otherwise!
Starting with an unreal 27 points on 11-for-11 shooting in the first quarter alone, Barkley's ferocious determination that night was just not going to be wavered.
The Round Mound of Rebound grabbed every board in sight, hit the deepest, clutch-est threes and generally ridiculed the Warriors' defense with spectacular play.
He completed a 140-133 Phoenix victory (a game in which Golden State fought valiantly) with a career-high 56 points on 23-of-31 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Don Nelson's squad should have just kept their mouth shut as they saw their season end because of the ultimate "punk" performance. Or should it be "punk-ing"?
Throughout the history of the NBA playoffs there has never been a performance like what Scottie Pippen accomplished on the night of May 19, 1991, during Game 1 of the Bulls' Eastern Conference Finals matchup with the Pistons.
The tension of these two teams—who really appeared to hate each other—was at a fever pitch.
The Bad Boys of Detroit had knocked the Bulls out of the playoffs two years in a row, and according to a future video statement by Michael Jordan, they "Might not be given many more opportunities."
All said, this was the Bulls' year to prove that they were tougher than the Motor City, and it all started on the defensive side.
But the catalyst for the Bulls 94-83 statement victory in Game 1 wasn't you-know-who, it was Pippen, who through down 18 points, five rebounds, six steals and five blocks, becoming the only statistically known player in NBA history to have a five-by-four night in those particular categories.
With blocks not usually being the domain of a steal expert—unless your name is Hakeem Olajuwon (just look)—Pippen, for one night, proved this maxim wrong.
Repeatedly making Pistons' forward Mark Aguirre, center Bill Laimbeer and guards Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars look foolish when they had the ball, Pippen threw back the physical, dominating defense of the Piston's past right back in their faces.
Yes, Jordan had a dominating game as well, but the emergence of a defensive equal, and in this rare case, a superior one, spelled an end to the Pistons and the arrival of the Bulls as NBA Champions.
To start out, prolific assist numbers have proven much more difficult to attain than rebounding numbers.
And that is why Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton's Game 5 1988 Western Conference Semi-Finals performance versus the champion L.A. Lakers is ranked here.
The single-game record for playoff assists before that night was 24 by Magic Johnson.
But as the game wore on it was clear that the record would either be equaled or broken.
Stockton used all the quickness his 6'1" frame could muster, and all the craftiness of a true Gonzaga product to punch out an incomparable game.
He finished the night with 23 points, 24 assists—tying Magic's record—and five steals, stripping Johnson and Byron Scott on several plays.
Were it not for Lakers' guard Michael Cooper's game-winning jumper, Utah would have had the victory, but they fell 111-109 after witnessing one of the NBA playoff's greatest point guard achievements.
That night also might have seen a proverbial passing of the torch to the NBA's greatest assist king, John Stockton.
He scored 28 points on a massive array of hook shots, earth-shattering dunks and soft-for-a-behemoth floaters that was only part of Shaq's complete game.
Then there was the 20 rebounds, nine assists and eight blocks that dismantled the Sixers' offense and defense.
Nearing the elusive and unbelievable quadruple-double mark, Shaquille O'Neal served notice in his Game 2 statement that there was nothing the Sixers could do to stop him.
After Game 5, with Shaq hoisting up the Larry O'Brien and Finals MVP trophy's, there was no doubt left that he was right.
Tim Duncan, one of the greatest power forwards of our time, completely dismantled the New Jersey Nets in Game 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals.
With a vast assortment of up-and-unders, hook shots, turn-arounds and dunks, as well as complete domination on the glass and in the pivot, the "Big Fundamental" made it look all too easy.
He finished with 21 points, 20 boards, 10 assists and eight blocked shots, nearly missing the untouchable quadruple-double.
With his second NBA title and Finals MVP in tow, Duncan would become a beacon for all players whose dedication to the purity of sport, void of all the hype and hoopla, became their most prized asset.
Well that's it for now. Five more will be coming real soon. And maybe these playoffs will reveal even more names to add to the list.
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Thank you for your time and consideration.