What are best NBA Finals games in history?
Members of our #NBArank panel are recounting the greatest Finals games. First, we asked five NBA writers to share their favorites. On June 8, we started to unveil Kevin Pelton's all-time top 25.
2013 Finals, Game 6: Allen pushes back the rope
1998 Finals, Game 6: Jordan, Game 6
1993 Finals, Game 6: John Paxson's shot
1988 Finals, Game 7: The wildest Game 7 in modern Finals history
1997 Finals, Game 6: Steve Kerr's shot
1987 Finals, Game 4: The "junior, junior sky hook" game
1988 Finals, Game 6: The Isiah Thomas game
1997 Finals, Game 5: The flu game
2005 Finals, Game 5: Big Shot Rob's biggest shot
2013 Finals, Game 7: Heat complete the comeback
2006 Finals, Game 5: The Bennett Salvatore game
1984 Finals, Game 4: The Rambis clothesline
1980 Finals, Game 6: Magic jumps center
1997 Finals, Game 1: Mailman doesn't deliver on Sundays
1994 Finals, Game 6: Rockets dodge Starks' bullet
1990 Finals, Game 5: 'The Microwave' seals the deal
1995 Finals, Game 1: The Nick Anderson game
2000 Finals, Game 4: Kobe saves the day
2001 Finals, Game 1: Iverson steps over Ty Lue
1985 Finals, Game 4: Dennis Johnson's game winner
2010 Finals, Game 7: Lakers pick up Kobe
1984 Finals, Game 2: Gerald Henderson's steal
2006 Finals, Game 3: Wade wills comeback
1991 Finals, Game 1: Lakers upset MJ's Bulls
2011 Finals, Game 2: Mavs rally in South Beach
Featured: Spurs reach perfection
(Games 3 & 4, 2014)
Kevin Arnovitz: The player aspires for perfection, but even a perfectionist knows it's impossible to come by in the NBA. Defenders close hard. Passes veer off-course. The brain can play tricks. And that's before you take into account the quality of the competition.
The Miami Heat of the Big Three Era are constructed to thwart perfection, and as the scene moves to American Airlines Arena in Miami, they are at Peak Heat. They had cruised through the Eastern Conference and stolen Game 2 on the San Antonio Spurs' home court after melting in mysterious, ventilation-free Game 1.
Gregg Popovich is looking to renovate in Miami. He wants to create one of those airy living spaces with fewer walls, more party flow, a cleaner feel. Boris Diaw in place of Tiago Splitter in the starting lineup would provide that space.
Neither Game 3 nor 4 will go down in the annals of NBA history for their drama, individual exploits or defining moments. The outcome of each game is all but a foregone conclusion well before halftime. It's difficult to find a postcard moment. No single player would be immortalized for a game-winning shot or a momentous quarter.
Featured: Ray Allen's corner 3 saves Miami
(Game 6, 2013)
J.A. Adande: Before the shot there was the rebound. And before the rebound there was the rope.
What makes Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals stand out among all the Finals games I've watched since 1979 or covered since 1993 is that there wasn't just one singular moment, there wasn't just one stellar performer. There was incredible competitive drive from both the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, a throwback 30-point, 17-rebound outing by Tim Duncan matched by the 32-11-10 triple-double by LeBron James, the emotional swings of the Heat overcoming a 10-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to take a three-point lead with two minutes remaining, only to see the Spurs surge ahead in the final minute.
And it all led to that epic sequence near the end of regulation, which was framed by that yellow rope around the court.
Featured: Kobe Bryant takes over
(Game 4, 2000)
Israel Gutierrez: The story of Kobe Bryant's performance in Game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals against the Pacers -- the night many of us realized the second coming of Michael Jordan might be on its way a lot quicker than anyone expected -- actually begins in Game 2.
It was then that Jalen Rose, who has since said his play came with poor intentions, slid a sneaky left foot in Bryant's landing space.
The result was a sprained ankle that forced Bryant to miss most of Game 2 and all of Game 3, keeping the Pacers in the series with a 2-1 deficit but with two consecutive upcoming games at home and the prospect of facing a gimpy Bryant for the remainder of the series.
Featured: Magic dominates at center
(Game 6, 1980)
Chris Broussard: I'll never forget the sight of Magic Johnson jumping center against Philadelphia's Caldwell Jones to start Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals. Magic lost the tip, but that was about the only thing Lakers' rookie didn't conquer that night.
He sank a skyhook, made acrobatic layups, dunked on opponents, led the fast break, hit jump shots (well, set shots), made all 14 of his free throws, and scored nine points in the final five minutes to turn a two-point lead into a comfortable double-digit victory.
As a Magic Johnson superfan, I was in awe. This was a year after I stunned -- and upset -- my friends at my Catholic grade school in Indianapolis by telling them I was rooting for Magic and Michigan State over Larry Bird and Indiana State in the NCAA championship game.
Featured: Michael Jordan's flu game
(Game 5, 1997)
Marc Stein: No list of Greatest Finals Anything is complete without a Michael Jordan entry. Or six.
And Jordan's "Flu Game," for me, is unquestionably right up there on my Basketball Digest-inspired "Games I'll Absolutely, Positively Never Forget" list.
The shove on Bryon Russell and subsequent swish that clinched ring No. 6 for Jordan and his Bulls one year later in the 1998 championship round is more commonly cited to be MJ's signature Finals moment, but not on this scorecard.