Full Sail’s Sports faculty members rank the best moments in NBA Finals history
How do you choose between Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Larry Bird, or Magic Johnson for the greatest NBA Finals moment in history? While we’re in the midst of the fourth straight Warriors-Cavaliers showdown for the NBA Finals, we asked faculty from Full Sail University’s Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting and our Sports Marketing and Media bachelor's degree program to do just that.
Ahead are the 10 most epic moments in NBA Finals history according to our sports faculty.
10) Michael Jordan scores 38 points in Game Five of the 1997 Finals while suffering from the flu
Michael Jordan was not going to let anything stand in his way in the 1997 Finals. While suffering through an intense bout of the flu, Jordan scored 38 points bringing the Bulls to a 90-88 win in Game Five. Calling Jordan out as an underdog seemed unheard of at this point, yet he still continued to shock them all.
9) Robert “Big-Shot Bob” Horry drills in the game-winning three-pointer for Game Five against the Pistons
With a close back-and-forth game coming to an end in overtime of Game Five, Robert “Big Shot Rob” Horry lived up to his name by drilling a three-pointer with less than six seconds remaining in the game. The basket secured the Spurs' 96-95 victory over the Pistons, and giving San Antonio control of the series.
8) Michael Jordan scores 35 points in the 1992 NBA Finals and “The Shrug” is born
In 1992, Michael Jordan shocked the crowds when he made six three-pointers, totaling his number of points scored to 35 in just one half. Running out of words, Jordan “shrugged” to let everyone watching know this was his game.
7) In the final matchup between Bird and Johnson, Johnson dropped the game winning skyhook
After an intense series between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, Johnson not only put an end to the 1987 NBA Finals, but to also to a lasting rivalry between him and Bird with one shot. He soared through the sky to drop the game-winning skyhook, bringing the crowd to its feet and leaving Bird speechless.
6) Allen Iverson steps over Tyronn Lue in the 2001 NBA Finals
In 2001, Allen Iverson set the tone for the Finals in Game One by not only crossing Tyronn Lue, but then stepping over him to prove a point. This crossover would be a defining moment in Iverson’s career, not only allowing him to secure the win for that game, but also creating an unforgettable moment.
5) Isiah Thomas scores an NBA record 25 points in the third quarter - with a sprained ankle
The Pistons were looking at a bleak loss early in the third quarter of Game Six against the Lakers, but Isiah Thomas was not afraid of the scoreboard. Despite landing on Michael Cooper’s foot late in the third quarter causing a sprained ankle, Thomas scored a record-breaking 25 points in a single period.
4) LeBron James’ chase-down block of Andre Igoudala in the 2016 NBA Finals
In 2016, the new – yet already classic – rivalry between the Warriors and the Cavaliers took flight again in this NBA Finals matchup. Less than two minutes remained in Game Seven when LeBron James showed his true size by preforming a monstrous block of Andre Igoudala, preventing the Warriors from taking the lead and securing the Cavaliers’ win.
3) Jerry West hits a 60-foot buzzer-beater to tie Game Three of the 1970 NBA Finals
After a clutch shot hit off by Dave DeBusschere in Game Three of the 1970 NBA Finals, Jerry West knew it was now or never. West tied the game up with a 60-foot buzzer-beater just seconds after DeBusschere’s shot, sending the Lakers into overtime.
2) Dr. J hits the iconic scooping layup from behind the backboard in the 1980 Finals
In Game Four of the 1980 NBA Finals, the Sixers find themselves against the Lakers. With only seconds remaining in the final quarter, Dr. J shoots a shot that would become celebrated for years to come: the scooping layup from behind the backboard. After flying through the air for what seemed to be too long, Dr. J moved in ways unlike any other to complete this iconic shot.
1) Michael Jordan’s final shot as a Bull to win the 1998 NBA Finals
The Chicago Bulls were two points away from a sixth championship. With 17 seconds remaining, Michael Jordan finds himself with the ball and only one shot in his way. “The Last Shot” by Jordan not only ended the season with the team and him as champions, but would also conclude his legendary career as a Bull and in the NBA.
That’s our list, and there are way more that could have been included. Tag us on Twitter and let us know what you consider to be the best NBA Finals moment of all time!