Spring is a special time of year for sports fans. Baseball is just starting, hockey fans are ready for some fist fights and hat tricks in the playoffs, and sixteen NBA teams begin their post-season journey for a championship. Throughout the regular season, some games are described as having a "playoff basketball" atmosphere. Fouls aren't easily given out. Contact is the name of the game. And crazy moments? Well, they're just par for the course in the playoffs.
Compiled below is a list of the ten craziest moments in NBA playoff history. You'll encounter everything from players taking the court hurt to buzzer beaters that still make every Jazz fan cry. It's brutal. It's unforgiving. It's the NBA playoffs.
10 1970 NBA Finals (Game 7) - Willis Reed Plays with Torn Muscle
In the 1970 NBA Finals, the New York Knicks went into Game 7 without one of their stars, their center. Suffering from a torn muscle in his right thigh, it would be crazy for Willis Reed to play. A torn muscle sends normal men to the hospital! Reed, though, was no ordinary man. Mustering up all of his courage, Reed took an injection of medication and took to the floor.
9 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Game 1) - Reggie Miller Scores 8 Points in 8.9 Seconds
Buzzer beaters are great. One man scoring 80 points in a game is great. But, someone scoring 8 points in 8.9 seconds? That's more along the "how is this physically possible?" line of greatness. The stage is set. It's 1995. The Pacers have traveled to the famous Madison Square Garden. With a hostile crowd to deal with, Pacers shooting guard Reggie Miller managed to hit back-to-back three pointers (tying the game).
8 1970 NBA Finals (Game 3) - Jerry West Nails 60-Footer
The 1970 NBA Finals were full of magical moments. Before Willis Reed's heroic performance in Game 7 of the series (#10 on this list), Jerry West had the opportunity to make a little magic of his own. And boy, did he electrify the fans. In Game 3, the Lakers garnered a late 56-42 lead coming out of halftime. However, the scrappy Knicks fought back and eventually tied the game. With Chamberlain hitting one of two free throws with 13 seconds left, Lakers fans were hoping for a series-commanding 2-1 lead in the series.
7 2001 NBA Finals (Game 2) - Shaq's (Almost) Quadruple Double
Earning a triple-double in the NBA is a feat most will never even come close to. Now, imagine going a step beyond the triple-double. Shaq almost achieved this in the second game of the 2001 NBA Finals. Angry after suffering their first loss in the entire playoffs in the opening game of the Finals, the Lakers were looking for retribution. Shaquille O'Neil was looking to make a statement. I think it's safe to say that statement was heard loud and clear by the whole sports world.
6 1999 Western Conference Finals (Game 2) - Sean Elliot's Miracle Shot
1999 is right around the time when the San Antonio Spurs began to dominate the NBA. The likes of David Robinson and Tim Duncan were searching for their first title. And it was Sean Elliott's amazing shot from the corner that would propel the Spurs to begin their title reign. Having battled back from nearly 20 points in the second half, the Spurs battled back to get within two points with twelve seconds to go in the game.
5 1949 NBA Finals (Game 5) - George Mikan Plays with Cast on Wrist
The Los Angeles Lakers' storied history begins with George Mikan and his performance in the fifth game of the 1949 NBA Finals. Known as the Minneapolis Lakers, George was intent on bringing his team the first ever NBA championship. Leading them to a 51-17 record in the regular season, Mikan was one step closer to realizing that dream. However, as the NBA Finals progressed, Mikan injured his wrist.
4 1984 Eastern Conference First Round (Game 5) - Bernard King Duels Isiah Thomas
Both the Pistons and the Knicks were looking to start their playoff run on a positive note in 1984. Playing each other in the first round proved to be a difficult task for both teams. Battling to a Game 5, New York found themselves down by close to 20 points late in the game. Someone had to step up for the Knicks.
3 1986 Eastern Conference First Round (Game 2) -Michael Jordan Scores 63 Points in One Game
It shouldn't be a surprise to see MJ's presence on this list. Arguably the greatest player of all time, Jordan set numerous records during his time in the NBA. Besides possessing a penchant for winning championships, Jordan also holds a unique scoring record: the most points ever scored by a single player in one playoff game (since the 1984 playoffs). Early in his career, Michael had the privilege of appearing in the playoffs with the Bulls. He was adamant to make the most of it, and he absolutely exploded one night in 1986.
2 1957 NBA Finals (Game 7) - Rookies Bill Russell and Tommy Heinsohn Both Have Crazy Double-Doubles
Most rookies need time to adjust to the pressure and play of the NBA. They need to learn how the NBA game works and get used to the bigger bodies and quicker pace. However, two men decided that they didn't need the time to adjust. They jumped in full force. And were rewarded with an NBA Championship.
1 1998 NBA Finals (Game 6) - Jordan Beats Jazz
It's probably the most iconic moment in NBA and US sports history. The tale has been mentioned in movies, television shows, and numerous songs. When you think of Michael Jordan, you think of "clutch". That's exactly what Jordan was on June 14th, 1998. As the final minute of the game progressed, the Bulls found themselves losing to Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz. The game plan for the Bulls? Get the ball to #23.
First, Michael scored on a drive to the hoop. When the Jazz inbounded the ball, Jordan stole it. With time winding down, Jordan buried a 3-point shot with 5.2 seconds left in the game. Stockton actually got a shot off to win the game, but missed. Six titles. Eight years. Final game of both coach Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan with the Bulls. It is the craziest moment in NBA playoff history.
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