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Top 50 Craziest Buzzer Beaters of All Time

Austin SchindelAnalyst IIJanuary 8, 2017

Top 50 Craziest Buzzer Beaters of All Time

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    The buzzer beater is one of the most exciting plays in sports. The ball goes up in the air and time seemingly stands still. Everyone in the stadium, at home, or in a bar holds their breath while their heart skips a beat.

    There is never a moment where a game is more in the balance. There is nothing that anyone can do but wait for the ball to swoosh through the hoop or clank off the iron.

    What also makes it great is the element of surprise. There might be a few seconds left in a game or the quarter, and when you least expect your team to make something happen and all hope is lost, magical moment happens and your fortunes turn.

    Here are the 50 best buzzer beaters of all time…

Honorable Mention: Gilbert Arenas off the Backboard

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    Like most things that Arenas does these days, his full-court buzzer beater went in, but didn’t count. This might have been the highlight of his Orlando Magic career thus far, and it was all for naught.

    He should consider taking his three pointers from 70 feet away from now on because the success rate is slightly higher compared to his normal three point shooting.

Honorable Mention: New Jersey Nets Get Some Luck

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    I cannot tell who made the shot, so they have been left off the master list. Only a New Jersey Net could miss so badly yet still have the ball go in.

    The team leads the league in terrible things that happen to them, so why not get one of the luckiest shots I have ever seen.

50. Baron Davis from 92 Feet Away

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    Situation: Though a meaningless shot at the time, back when Baron Davis still cared about basketball, his 92-foot shot was very impressive.

    Unlike many of the other uncontested shots, Davis had to throw the ball with one hand because there was as defender closing in. Once he hit that shot he realized that it would never get better than that and went on to never try again.

49. Doug Flutie and Boston College Hail Mary Winner

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    Situation: Down 45-41, Flutie bombed a 48-yard pass through several Miami defensive backs and into the hands of his receiver Gerard Phelan.

    One of the few non-basketball plays on the list, Flutie’s Hail Mary against the University of Miami in 1984 is one of the most memorable plays in college football history. 

48. Jaguars' Hail Mary for the Win

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    Situation: Tied 24-24 with 0:03 seconds left, quarterback David Garrard launched a 50-yard pass into the end zone as time expired. The Texans did everything correctly, including knocking the ball straight downward with two hands.

    Unfortunately, the Texans secondary could not catch a break and the ball went right into Jaguars’ receiver Mike Thomas’ hands. It was one of the most deflating plays of the NFL season and one of the best buzzer beaters of all time.

    It was also another Gus Johnson gem, giving it a slight bump.

47. Josh Smith High-Flying, Buzzer-Beater Dunk

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    Situation: Tied at 84, Joe Johnson, in all his glory missed an off-balanced, baseline shot that clanked off the back iron. Luckily, Josh Smith came from the other side and dunked in the game winner.

    It was a typical Atlanta Hawk game. They showed all of their potential but proved that they are always going to hang around but never win the title.

46. Nick Robinson Keeps Stanford Perfect

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    Situation: Stanford was enjoying a perfect season at that time, winning 19 games in a row. The Arizona Wildcats were threatening this run of perfection, until Stanford turned up the heat and created two key turnovers at the end of the game.

    After a Childress three pointer, Arizona called timeout for one last play. Salim Stoudemire then had the ball stripped from him and with three seconds left on the clock, Robinson made a running fade-away three to win the game and preserve perfection.

45. Starting Them Young

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    Situation: All I know about this video is that a very small kid threw the ball against all odds, three quarters of the court. Whenever you see someone launch a ball overhand, they are clearly not strong enough to shoot the ball.


    Frigo, this one is for you…

44. Vince Carter from Waaaay Down Town

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    Situation: Carter hit a game-winner from way downtown against the Utah Jazz back when he was in “still-sort-of-care-about-basketball-and-I’m-not-going-to-tank-every-game” mode. This was a very short period of time after he was traded to the New Jersey Nets before Jason Kidd left.

43. Rochester High School Wins Playoff Game at the Buzzer

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    Situation: With 1.7 seconds to go, Andy Brooks made a half-court shot at the buzzer to win a District playoff game. The team beat Adams High School 35-34.

    Another great shot by a guy who will never forget this moment as long a he lives.

42. Gary Neal Staves off Elimination

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    Situation: Down 97-94 and 3 games to 1, Gary Neal, the most unlikely of heroes took the final three pointer with 1.7 seconds left.

    Neal, an undrafted free agent was another steal for the Spurs, who seem to always find great guys that nobody else wanted.

41. Magic Johnson over the Nuggets

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    Situation: The Nuggets were leading 146-145 in double overtime with three seconds remaining. The ball was inbounded to all time great Magic Johnson who got the ball at the three point line. He was smothered, but used his strength to lean in right over the defender and score the game-winning bucket.

    Johnson certainly had many big moments in his career, and the list is very short of players who you would want with the ball in their hands to make a big play at the end of a game.

40. Dwight Howard...for the Win!

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    Situation: 104-104, .8 seconds remain with the Magic inbounding the ball on the near sideline. Turkoglu throws the ball in over an outreached Tim Duncan and into the young center’s hands for a dunk.

    Before he was blocking every shot and dominating in the paint, Howard was a young kid trying to make it in the NBA. In his third season, he made a big impact, leading the team to a playoff appearance. This was one of the many highlights from that season and one of the defining plays of his young career.

39. The French Do Something Right

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    Situation: 74-73, with seconds remaining (I don’t understand them either), and a half-court shot that lands.

    Nobody will blame you for not wanting to watch a French video, but this is still an incredible series of plays. They may not be known for their basketball, but this is worth several views.

38. Dwyane Wade Beats the Bulls

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    Situation: 127-127, second overtime and the Bulls have the ball. John Salmons drives, spins, and meets Dwyane Wade who sneaks up and steals the ball. He then in four seconds travels the length of the court and shoots a 35-footer off of one foot.

    This was most incredible because of the sudden change of momentum. The Bulls were going for the win, and before they knew what was happen, Wade already had the ball and was streaking for the game winner.

37. JRich Beats the Champs

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    Situation: 121-119,the Mavericks have the lead. Jason Terry tries to ice the game on the free throw line, but misses. Jason Richardson rebounds the ball with 4.7 seconds, runs the floor, and spins into a three-pointer.

    Before the Mavericks were champions, these were the moments where we would say, “This is why they will never win a championship with these guys”. Oops!

36. Casey Weber Hits a 90-Foot 3-Pointer

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    Situation: End of the third quarter of an Ohio Sectional Finals game, Casey Weber tracks down the rebound and throws the ball overhand 90 feet to beat the clock.

    I feel like shots like this are only taken in high school games. NBA players are so worried about their stats that it is a waste to take a shot from that far away. This shot would be higher on the list but it lacks importance compared to some of the other incredible shots.

35. Ray Allen with the Smoothest Stroke in the Game

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    Situation: The Bobcats have the ball and a two-point lead with 4.7 seconds on the clock. Then, the impending collapse takes place. The ball is in-bounded, tipped, and stolen. Ray Allen, of all people to have an open shot, is given two inches that he needs to knock down the game winner as time expires.

    …and there lies the difference between a cellar dweller and a championship team.

34. Halfcourt Buzzer Beater Without Looking

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    Situation: Twin Valley South High School guard Austin Groff made the ultimate trick shot at the end of the first quarter with a no look, granny style heave.

    Lack of importance is trumped by degree of difficulty in this scenario. If this was not an actual game with hundreds of witnesses, there is no way that I can even believe the video isn’t doctored. The most priceless picture is of the opposing team who are just dumbfounded.

33. Bryce Drew with the Game Winning Upset

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    Situation: 1998 NCAA Tournament first-round matchup between Valparaiso (13) and Ole Miss (4). Down 69-67, with 2.5 seconds remaining Valparaiso inbounds the ball the length of the court and gets the ball to Bryce Drew, who hits a three-pointer and game-winner.

    This is one of those classic underdog clips that gets played every year around tournament time and for good reason.

32. Milt Palacio Stuns the Nets

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    Situation: All the Nets had to do was pass the ball into the frontcourt, but no. They had the ball and the lead, but threw the ball away into the hands of Milt Palacio, who threw the ball over his head and into the basket.

    Believe it or not I was at the game. The 11-year-old version of me is still mourning that loss.

31. Familiar Kid Making Wins State Championship at the Buzzer

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    Situation: 2.1 seconds left in the 2008 Indiana High Boys Basketball 4A State Championship. Brownsburg High School's Gordon Hayward scored at the buzzer to win the game over Marion 40-39 at Conseco Fieldhouse.

    Hayward almost won another championship at the buzzer, but that halfcourt heave was off the mark. 

30. Michael Jordan, 1997 Game 1

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    Go to 9:00

    Situation: Game 1 of the 1997 NBA finals, game tied and the ball in Michael Jordan’s hands – I assume you can figure out what happens.

    This was the first of two unsuccessful trips by the Utah Jazz against the Chicago Bulls in the NBA finals. The Game 1 buzzer beater was a microcosm of everything that went wrong for them. No matter how close they got, Jordan was always going to be there to make sure the Bulls came out on top.

29. Kordell Stewart's Hail Mary

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    Situation: Six seconds left in a 1994 game between Michigan and Colorado. Colorado is on their own 36 with one play left in the game, and QB Kordell Stewart drops back to bomb it. Ball is tipped and caught by Michael Westbrook for a TD and a 27-26 victory.

    There is nothing better than seeing the big powerhouse teams escape victory at the hands of defeat. 

28. U.S. Reed Halfcourt Shot

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    Situation: With seconds left in the 1981 second round matchup versus defending champion Louisville, the pass came to Reed who could not find any teammates and took the half court shot himself. It was nothing but net.

    Back then it was only a two pointer, which was still enough to win the game. The Razorbacks would lose in their next round, but not before producing one of the best buzzer beaters ever. 

27. Jimmy V and NC State Wins the Title at the Buzzer

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    Situation: 1983 National Championship Game, game tied at 52, seven seconds remaining and NC State had the ball. They had to take a desperation attempt that fell short but was put in by Lorenzo Charles.

    This was a huge upset at the time against a Houston team that had Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

26. Brandon Roy's Last-Second Heave

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    Situation: 99-98, Rockets lead with 0.08 second remaining. Brandon Roy hits a deep three-pointer off the inbounds pass, giving the Blazers the victory.

    More compelling is that the Rockets were down by two points before that and Yao Ming hit a shot and was fouled to give them the lead. It was one of those games where both teams were clutch, but it just depended on who got the ball last.

25. Cedric Jackson Beats Syracuse

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    Situation: 2.2 seconds left, Cleveland State’s Cedric Jackson took the pass and made a 60-footer. Not even his coach believed that was going in, as he thought the game was only tied.

    It was a major upset and a shocking loss for Syracuse, who rarely lose in the Carrier Dome to anyone, let alone a mid-major school.

24. Goliath Defeats David at Cameron Indoor

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    Situation: 75-74 Va Tech is actually leading in Cameron Indoor against the Duke Blue Devils. Senior Sean Dockery would not allow this to happen on his watch. 1.6 seconds was all he needed for his game winner.

    This is another reason for people to hate Duke and wonder when the underdog will win next.

23. There Is Plenty of Time...

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    Situation: Donte' Foster hits a buzzer-beating 3-pointer against Midwest City high school with .5 seconds left in the first quarter of a local tournament.

    The best part about the video and the whole situation is he is unguarded and does not make a big deal about making a no-look tap in three-pointer. 

22. Western Kentucky Beats Drake in OT

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    Situation: 99-98 Drake, with 5.7 seconds left, and Western Kentucky with the ball. They dribble the ball down the floor and pop a highly contested three pointer for the win. It was one of the typical 12-5 seed upsets in dramatic fashion.

    I know we are all about the mid-majors these days but nobody could have really expected a college called Drake to make it deep into the tournament, right?

21. It Aint over Till Its over

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    Situation: 109-106 Wizards, 3.8 seconds remaining and the length of the floor to go. Michael Ruffin thought he was doing the right thing by throwing the ball up in the air to let the clock run out – oh how wrong he was.

    Morris Peterson grabbed the ball and threw up an off-balanced prayer that went in, tying the game. All Eddie Jordan and the Wizards could do was stand around and laugh.

20. LeBron James a King for a Night

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    Situation: 2009 Playoffs, Game 2, and 1.0 second remaining. The Orlando Magic had already stolen Game 1 in Cleveland and the Cavaliers needed to avoid going down 2-0 and then traveling to Orlando.

    LeBron showed a brief glimpse of greatness and once again carried the Cavs on his back. It was a truly all-time great playoff buzzer beater and reason to believe that he could single handedly take the team and win it all on his own.

19. Chauncey Billups Takes the Pistons to OT

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    Situation: Down 88-85 in Game 5 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals, with 2.9 second on the clock, Mr. Big Shot came through once again. He nailed a 40-footer that took the game to overtime.

    The Nets went on to win the game but the Pistons bested them in the series. The Pistons relied on Billups for years to hit important shots for the team and this was just one of the many big moments of his career. 

18. Reggie Extends the Pacers Season

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    Situation: In the fifth and final game of the 2002 first round series between the Pacers and Nets, Reggie Miller and Indiana find themselves down three with seconds remaining.

    After a missed free throw the Pacers get the ball to Reggie and he does what he always did best: drain a clutch long shot.  That sent the game to overtime and while the Pacers would eventually lose the game and the series, they gained an eternally awesome buzzer beater by their most famous player. 

17. Tyreke Evans Halfcourt Winner

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    Situation: Down 98-97 after a miraculous OJ Mayo shot, the game appeared to be over. The Kings had no timeouts left, and the Grizzlies began celebrating just a little too soon. Evans gets the ball and undefended, shoots a half court shot that hits nothing but the bottom of the net.

    There are some funny nuances during the play. First, there is a man in a suit who begins to walk onto the court after the Mayo shot thinking there will be a stoppage of play.

    Also, there is a Sacramento King who appears to know that the ball was going to go in. He ran onto the court with the ball midair, jumping up and down.

16. Kobe Bryant, Game 4 V. Phoenix

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    Situation: In Game 4 of the first round of the 2006 NBA playoffs against the Phoenix Suns, Kobe Bryant took the ball off the tip, went to the foul line and made a signature Kobe shot as time expired.

    The Lakers took a commanding 3-1 lead but would squander the next three games and lost the series.  

15. Its Blake Hoffarber's World and We're Just Living in It

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    Situation: Down 2 during the 2005 Minnesota State High School Basketball Tournament, the ball fell into Hoffarber’s hands, who had fallen to the floor. From the floor, he took the shot, and miraculously sent the game into a second overtime. Hopkins High School went on to win the game, making him a hero.

    He went on to play at the University of Minnesota, where he would make another buzzer beater. Both of these plays would net him ESPY play of the year nominations.

14. Rasheed Wallace's Game-Tying Buzzer Beater

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    Situation: Denver is leading 98-95, inbounding the ball with a little over a second left. The inbound pass gets tipped, Rasheed Wallace picks the ball up, and makes a flat, two-footed heave to send the game to overtime.

    For all of his craziness, Wallace is a gamer and one of those guys who wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line. In this instance, I don’t think he had the time to think about what he was doing, but certainly one of the best buzzer beaters ever.

13. Bluegrass Miracle

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    Situation: 30-27, Kentucky ahead with only moments to go, threw a bomb over the Kentucky defense for the Hail Mary and the touchdown. LSU won 33-30 in one of the biggest shockers in college football history.

    The best part of the whole sequence is Kentucky coach Guy Morris’ Gatorade bath he receives just seconds before the team loses in stunning fashion.

12. Jordan Snipes Full-Court Game Winner

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    Situation: 89-88, 0.06 seconds remained. The 2005, division III matchup between Randolph Macon and Guilford College was decided when the Guilford player Jordan Snipes got the rebound off of a free throw miss and immediately launched the ball the length of the court.

    The shot went in and he became a YouTube sensation and a member of an illustrious group of people to make it to Sportscenter’s top 10 plays.

11. Jordan with "The Shot" on Ehlo

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    Situation: Down 100-99, on the road in Game 5 of the 1989 first-round matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jordan gets the inbound pass with three seconds left, goes to the foul line, and makes Craig Ehlo a household name.

    This was the first big moment of the legend that is Michael Jordan. The shot, the call, and the importance of the moment are all contributing factors in what makes this so special. This was the ultimate clutch moment that nobody will forget for quite some time. 

10. Devin Harris Miraculous Half-Court Shot

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    Situation: The Nets inbound the ball down 96-95 after a Philadelphia free throw. Devin Harris takes the ball, with 1.8 seconds, dribbles towards the scorers table, gets the ball stripped, regains possession and flips it toward the basket.

    The brilliance in this shot is the presence of mind after the ball was out of his hands to grab it from mid air and shoot it again. There was not much good that has happened to the Nets since they traded Jason Kidd, but for one night, they owned the play of the year.

9. Emeka Okafor Ridiculous Game-Tying Buzzer Beater

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    Situation: 105-103, Utah ahead with 1.3 seconds remaining. A football pass sails down the court, is tipped, and thrown up by Emeka Okafor. In one of the luckiest moments of his life, he banked in a 20-footer and sent the game to overtime.

    This was an extremely difficult loss by the Jazz, who had just experienced the surprising departure of Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams. Okafor certainly did not make this any easier on them.

8. Derek Fisher .4 Buzzer Beater

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    Situation: Down 73-72 in Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference Semi-Finals, Gary Payton inbounded the ball to Fisher who instantly put up a shot that went in.

    The Lakers closed on the series in six games and went onto the NBA finals. The Spurs soon after disputed the shot, though the call was upheld. It proved to be a waste for the Lakers, who went on to lose in the NBA finals to the Pistons.

7. John Stockton Takes the Jazz to the Finals

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    Situation: Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, John Stockton gets the inbounds pass and rises about Charles Barkley for the game-winner and a trip to the NBA finals.

    Stockton was an underrated clutch performer who unfortunately did not win a title despite being one of the best passers in NBA history. If it were not for Michael Jordan, Stockton would have been a legend.

6. Big Shot Bob

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    Situation: 2002 Western Conference Finals, Game 4, and Lakers down 2-1. The score was 99-97 and it was a must win for LA. Kobe and Shaq misses consecutive layups, but “Big Shot Bob” was there to knock down the game winning three as time expired.

    The Kings were never able to get over the Lakers hump during their run and a Game 4 victory; heading back to Sacramento down 3-1 would have been difficult for the Lakers to overcome. Horry made a career of being in the right place at the right time, and knocking down clutch shots when needed.

5. Gar Heard Sends the Game to Third OT

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    Situation: 1976 NBA Finals, Game 5, and 2OT. John Havlicek scored with one second remaining, causing mayhem in the garden. They had to clear the floor, giving the Suns one more opportunity to score. Gar Heard seized the opportunity.

    This was one of the most memorable games in NBA history and although Boston went on to win Game 5 and the series, it will go down in the record books as a legendary series.

4. David Lee Game-Winner with .1 to Go

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    Situation: 109-109. 2OT, 0.01 seconds left. Knicks have possession.

    Everyone in the arena knew that the only way the Knicks could score was with a tip in. This leads me the though process that every single Bobcat should have been hovering around the basket waiting for this play to take place.

    Despite all this I will give all the credit in the world to David Lee for an incredible twisting tip in. We also thank him for allowing Gus Johnson to freak out.

3. Christian Laettner

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    Situation: 103-102, 2.1 seconds remain, and Kentucky leads at the East regional final of the 1992 NCAA Tournament. Grant Hill throws the full-court pass to Laettner, who is planted at the foul line. He spins and makes one of the most memorable basketball shots in recent memory.

    Laettner may not have panned out in the NBA, but he put together one of the best single game performances in NCAA Tournament history. This shot tops most lists for being so pressure filled important.

2. Jeff Malone Game-Winner Falling out of Bounds

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    Situation: Down 102-100, Malone’s teammate overthrew the ball down the left sideline with only a few seconds remaining. Malone sprinted down the court and as his momentum took him out of bounds, he threw the ball over the backboard and hit an amazing three-pointer and game-winner.

    The call is legendary, and rather hilarious if you listen to it a couple of times. This is still one of the best buzzer beaters ever because the angle he hit the shot from simply defies what a basketball player should be able to do.

1. Jerry West 60-Foot Shot to Tie the Game

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    Situation: Game 3 of the 1970 NBA finals, down 102-100 with three seconds remaining, Chamberlain inbounded the ball to West who took and sunk a 60-foot shoot.

    Back then, there was no three-point line. Imagine if he would have hit a half court game-winner? My only gripe with this play is the lack of enthusiasm from the announcers. It was as if they did not know the game situation and were so surprised the shot went in they didn’t know what to do.

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