Watching Carmelo Anthony trying to steer a bunch of has-beens, never-was' and not-yets to a Game 2 victory over the Boston Celtics last week was both awe-inspiring and nauseating. Anthony led all players with 42 points and 17 rebounds and nearly led New York to a win without Chauncey Billups for the whole game and Amar'e Stoudemire for most of it.
Anthony's efforts set the standard that has yet to be matched by any player thus far in the 2011 NBA playoffs, but within a historical context, they do not come close to cracking the top 50.
Or the top 63, which was my original option to honor Michael Jordan's 63-point performance against the Celtics in 1986.
Removing my rose-colored glasses as a Knicks fan, how can one put 'Melo above since-forgotten efforts like Hakeem's 49 and 25 night against the Seattle SuperSonics, or Allen Iverson dropping 50-plus twice on the Toronto Raptors?
As phenomenal as 'Melo was, somehow he doesn't come close to scratching the surface here—a testimony to how amazing the 50-best single-game performances in NBA playoff history were.
We have the familiar names (Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant) as well as the unfamiliar names (Joe Fulks, Sleepy Floyd).
We have the scoring extravaganzas (Reggie Miller's 25-point fourth quarter, MJ's six first-half three-pointers) and the versatile big men who filled the stat sheet (Tim Duncan, Bill Walton and Shaquille O'Neal coming oh-so-close to quadruple doubles).
We have performances amidst personal injury (Michael Jordan vs. flu and shooting wrist) and performances against insurmountable on-court odds (Allen Iverson vs. Los Angeles Lakers).
All in all, the best 50 performances are ranked from No. 50 to No. 1 following 20 hours of research and writing. I welcome all angry responses.