Jun 21, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat president Pat Riley is interviewed by Stuart Scott after winning the 2012 NBA championship against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the American Airlines Arena. Miami won 121-106. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Thursday evening officially marks the start of another NBA Finals. The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs will sure bring some incredible moments in this year’s series, but we thought it would be fun to relive the top 10 moments in NBA Finals history.
10. Dr. J’s Amazing Layup in the 1980 Finals
In game 4 of the 1980 finals, Julius Erving’s Philadelphia 76ers were down 2-1 in the series against the Los Angeles Lakers when the Doc finally delivered:
The Sixers won the game, but the Lakers would take the series, led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and a 20-year-old Magic Johnson.
9. Lebron Finally Gets His Ring
Heat Haters might want to skip this one. After all the scrutiny, criticism, and heartbreak of a Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks the year before, the Miami Heat were able to finally bring the title to South Beach in 2012, and the King got his first ring.
8. The Jordan Shrug
In game 1 of the 1992 Finals, Michael Jordan proved to everyone that he had a jump shot, hitting on six three-pointers in the first half alone. After he made his last three, MJ turned to the scorer’s table and gave a shrug, as to say even he didn’t understand what was happening.
Jordan finished with 39 points en route to a 122-89 Chicago Bulls win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
7. Gar Heard’s Miraculous Shot in Game 5 of the 1976 Finals
This game may be referred to as the NBA game ever played. The Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics played three overtimes, but the best moment came at the end of the second overtime. With the Suns up by one, John Havlicek made a shot that appeared to have won the game for the Celtics.
As fans started rushing the court, the officials decided to put one second back on the clock. Phoenix called a time-out, not knowing they didn’t have any left which resulted in a technical foul. The Celtics made the free throw and had a two point lead now.
It looked like the game was over, except Gar Heard had other ideas.
This play helped the NBA decide to include tenths of each second on the game clock. The Celtics would prevail and win in the third overtime.
6. Jerry West Hits 60-Foot Buzzer Beater in the 1970 Finals
This is one of the most incredible shots ever seen. With West’s Lakers down by 2 in game 3, “The Logo” threw up a prayer from beyond half-court as time expired. It somehow banked in, but because there was no three-point line back then, the game was tied, instead of a Laker win.
The Lakers would lose the game, and the series to the New York Knicks in 7 games, which will be touched on later in the list.
5. Magic’s Hook in the 1987 Finals
There’s no need to get into the details of game 4 of the 1987 Finals, everybody has seen the image.
The beautiful hook shot from Magic Johnson helped the Lakers knock off the Celtics and became part of the classic 1980’s Lakers-Celtics rivalry.
4. Jordan’s ‘Flu’ Game
The controversy has only recently surfaced about whether Michael Jordan did indeed have the flu heading into game 5 of the 1997 Finals. Teammates such as Ron Harper and coach Phil Jackson have said that they truly believe Jordan had food poisoning from a team meal the night before game 5, but for some reason, MJ’s performance will always be remembered as the Flu Game.
Jordan would score 38 points, 15 in the final quarter and lead the Bulls to victory.
3. Willis Reed Walks Out Of The Tunnel
This image has become one of the greatest moments in sports history. During game 5 of the 1970, Knicks center Willis Reed suffered a torn muscle in his thigh. He wasn’t able to play in game 6 and was expected to miss game 7.
That’s when he made his dramatic entrance:
The Big Man scored just 4 points, but his presence guided the Knicks to victory.
2. Magic Johnson Plays All 5 Positions
In game 6 of the 1980 Finals, the Lakers were up 3-2 in the series, but center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was injured and expected to miss the rest of the series. Coach Paul Westhead decided to start 20-year-old rookie Magic Johnson at center, but he wound up playing all 5 positions throughout the game.
Magic finished with 42 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists en route to his first title and Finals MVP.
1. Jordan’s Final Shot With the Bulls
Who could have scripted it any better? In 1998, the Chicago Bulls went for one last run at winning another title in the 90’s. in game 6, the Bulls were down by 1 to the Utah Jazz with 30 seconds remaining, when Jordan stole the ball from Karl Malone, went down the court, and the rest was history: