With 30 NBA teams playing 82 regular season games, there certainly are a fair share of individual performances that could be classified as classic.
Two that immediately come to mind: Kobe Bryant’s remarkable 81 points against the Toronto Raptors (he actually sat out four minutes of the game) in January of 2006; and, April of that same year when LeBron James poured in 47 points on 16-25 shooting, with 12 rebounds, nine assists and two steals as Cleveland beat Miami by seven in a playground matchup with Dwayne Wade (44).
Yet, as stellar as those performances were, there’s nothing like the stage of the NBA playoffs for players to really leave a lasting mark on their teams and fans.
Sure, there have been defining moments, big shots that win games; consider Robert Horry’s three pointer to beat Sacramento at the buzzer of their 2002 playoff game (thank you very much, Vlade Divac).
There have been some incredible “moments” in playoff games that suddenly tipped the scale one way or the other. One play, one shot, one gesture (an injured Willis Reed walking onto the court for warm-ups before Game 7 in the Knicks-Lakers Finals of 1970 that inspired New York to a 14-point win and their first ever NBA championship).
But, we are talking about total game performances that move the needle on a player’s career, turning them from hoop heroes into league legends. These are the games you tell your kids about. Or, the dog.
You’ll tell someone because the performances were that awe inspiring. Here's 10 that qualify for the best of the past decade, with the first getting an asterisk for most dominant performance in a playoff series.