Brace yourself for a heart-pumping ride through the top five most iconic moments in NBA history! These moments left countless fans on the edge of their seats, witnessing history in the making with their favorite teams and players.
From clutch shots that leave us breathless to game-winning plays that leave us on the edge of our seats, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has never failed to deliver jaw-dropping displays of athleticism and skill. And who could forget those iconic moments that have become ingrained in our memories, inspiring new generations of players and fans alike? The league truly is a phenomenon that continues to amaze us time and time again. Here are the top five most iconic moments in NBA history.
5. LeBron James’ game-winning block in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals
It was Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals and the tension was palpable. The Cleveland Cavaliers were up against the mighty Golden State Warriors, and it was anyone’s game. With just over a minute left on the clock, the Warriors’ Andre Iguodala had an open lane to the basket. It appeared to have an easy layup that would secure his team the lead. But then, out of nowhere, LeBron James flew in like a superhero and swatted the ball away from behind. The move would go down in history as “The Block.”
The momentum shifted, the crowd went wild, and the Cavaliers went on to win the game, sealing their first major sports championship in over 50 years. It was a moment that will be remembered by fans and players alike for years to come.
4. The highest-scoring game in NBA history
On December 13, 1983, the Detroit Pistons and the Denver Nuggets faced off in one of the wildest games in NBA history. The final score? A triple-overtime thriller with the Pistons coming out on top, 186-184.
Despite only managing one three-pointer each, both teams put up incredible offensive numbers. Detroit shot 54.4% from the field and Denver 59.1%. Isiah Thomas led the way for the Pistons with a monster 47-point, 17-assist, 5-rebound, and 4-steal performance. John Long added 41 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists. The Nuggets had their own stars. Kiki Vandeweghe dropped an impressive 51 points with 9 rebounds and 8 assists, and Alex English contributed 47 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists.
3. Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006
It was a game that left fans and critics alike in awe. A true masterclass in scoring, Kobe Bryant lit up the court and set the basketball world ablaze. In a matchup against the Toronto Raptors, Bryant scored an incredible 81 points, proving once and for all that he was one of the greatest players to ever grace the hardwood. The shooting guard’s efforts helped the LA Lakers bag a 122-104 victory.
With a performance like that, it was impossible not to be swept up in the excitement and energy that Bryant brought to the game. It was a night that basketball fans around the world will never forget. Only one player has ever managed more points in a single game: Wilt Chamberlain and his 100-point stunner in 1962.
2. Magic Johnson’s game-winning “Junior Skyhook” in the 1987 NBA Finals
Magic Johnson’s “junior, junior, junior skyhook” is one of the most iconic moments in NBA history. In Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals, Magic lifted the Lakers over the Boston Celtics in the final seconds with a running hook shot over Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.
The game was a disaster for much of the night. The Lakers trailed by 16 in the third quarter alone. But Johnson and James Worthy led the way as LA mounted a furious rally, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar chipping in for one of the biggest moments of the night. Larry Bird had a chance at a buzzer-beater, but the Lakers’ 107-106 win gave them a 3-1 lead in a series they’d eventually win in six games. Magic’s winner also gave him the final say in one of the greatest individual rivalries in sports, as it would be the last Finals battle between him and Bird.
1. Michael Jordan’s “The Shot” in 1989 NBA Playoffs
Let’s transport ourselves back to 1989 when the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers played in the first round of the playoffs. It was game five, and the score was tied with only seconds left on the clock. The anticipation was palpable. And then, in a moment that would go down in basketball history, Michael Jordan rose above the fray and hit a game-winning shot over Craig Ehlo. It was a shot that would forever be known as “The Shot.”