10 Greatest Moments in NBA Finals History
May 31, 2019
It’s Finals season, and we’re not talking about stressing out over those last days of school for the semester. We’re talking about where champions are crowned under the watchful eyes of millions of fans. We’re talking about the NBA Finals.
While we wait to see if the Golden State Warriors can pull off the ever-elusive “three-peat” this year, let’s take a look back at some of the greatest performances in NBA Finals history from the past few decades.
Michael Jordan (1991)—Air Jordan 6 “Infrared”
With such a phenomenal career, it’s hard to single out which of Michael Jordan’s NBA Finals performances are better than others. However, MJ’s first win, a battle against Magic Johnson and the Lakers, will forever be a favorite. After losing Game 1, Jordan led the Bulls to 4 wins in a row and earned the first NBA Championship and the first NBA Finals MVP award of his career.
Shaquille O’Neal (2001)—Dunk.net Chromz
Shaq proved that his Superman tattoo was worthy with an incredible series against Allen Iverson and the 76ers in 2001. The big man averaged 38 points, 16.7 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game and nearly pulled off a quadruple-double in game 2, with 28 points, 20 rebounds, 9 assists, and 8 blocks!
LeBron James (2016)—Nike LeBron Soldier 10
King James was on a mission to bring a championship home for “The Land.” Leading the Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit, LeBron and the Cavs soiled the Golden State’s 73-win regular season by beating the Warriors in 7 games. LeBron nearly averaged a triple-double for the series and the win was the first professional sports title for the city of Cleveland since 1964.
Kobe Bryant (2009)—Nike Zoom Kobe 4
Kobe Bryant was out to prove he didn’t need Shaq by his side to win a title, and in 2009 he did just that. The Mamba kicked off the series 40-point performance in Game 1, and never let up, leading the Lakers to victory in just 5 games and earning his first of back-to-back NBA Finals MVP awards.
Hakeem Olajuwon (1994)
When Michael Jordan retired for the first time, Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets capitalized. Hakeem “The Dream” led the Rockets into battle against Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks. Olajuwon averaged 26.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game while making 50% of his shots, which earned him the MVP award.
Larry Bird (1986)—Converse Weapon
On arguably one of the greatest teams of all time, Larry Bird showed why he deserved the nickname “Larry Legend” by leading the Celtics to victory over the Houston Rockets in 6 games. Game 6 of the 1986 NBA Finals is referred to by Larry himself as the best game he’s ever played in his entire career.
Michael Jordan (1993)—Air Jordan 8
MJ’s third consecutive title came against his friend and fierce competitor, Charles Barkley, and the Phoenix Suns. MJ led the Bulls to wins in the first two games but lost Game 3 in a grueling 3-overtime battle. Kevin Johnson of the Suns bragged about holding Jordan to 44 points in the game, and in true MJ fashion, Michael came out on fire in Game 4, scoring 55 points. The Bulls would win the series two games later and MJ earned himself his third NBA Finals MVP award.
Tim Duncan (2003)—adidas a3 Superstar
San Antonio’s dynasty was in the midst of a leadership change in 2003, as Tim Duncan took the torch from David Robinson and carried the Spurs to their second NBA Championship. In the final game, Duncan scored 21 points, grabbed 20 rebounds, dished out 10 assists, and blocked 8 shots in one of the greatest single game performances in NBA Finals history.
Dwyane Wade (2006)—Converse Wade 1
Dwyane Wade’s third season in the league turned out to be one of the greatest of his career. With a new signature sneaker from Converse, D-Wade led the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals, where he averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 2.7 steals. Even crazier is that he shot 97 free throws on the way to earning Miami their first title in franchise history.
Stephen Curry (2015)—Under Armour Curry 1
The Warriors ended a 40-year title drought in 2015 by defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers. As the Warriors do, the victory came thanks to a well-balanced team effort in which Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, and Stephen Curry, each led the team in scoring throughout the series. Iguodala earned the MVP award, but it was the 3-point shooting of Curry that stands out as the ultimate deciding factor for the Warriors win.