The NBA Finals resume on Thursday, and it is a tricky situation. This is a win-or-go-home game for the Boston Celtics (who will already be home for this game), and if the Warriors win, Steph Curry and company win their fourth championship. If Boston wins, they head back to San Francisco in hopes of winning there. It is getting intense, and moments like this are where stars shine.
The finals have had their share of legendary performances. There have been moments where star players have taken over and completely changed the series. And we still are in awe of those performances today. Here are five legendary NBA Finals performances.
1.) Giannis Antetokounmpo, Game 6 (2021)
The most recent performance on this list comes from Giannis Antetokounmpo. It was mentioned in a previous article, but it was so dominating that it needed to be on this list. Antetokoumpo was having an impressive NBA Finals, but his Game 6 performance showed what he is truly capable of. Antetokounmpo scored 50 points (a playoff career high) to go along with 14 rebounds and five blocks. He also made 17 of his 19 free throws in this game.
Antetokounmpo struggled with his free throws throughout the season, but when it mattered most, he knocked them down. Antetokounmpo won the 2021 Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) and gave the Bucks their first championship in 50 years. The win made for a great story, and showed that players do not always need large markets (such as Los Angeles) to bring a championship to their team. So, this performance will be talked about for years to come.
2.) LeBron James, Game 7 (2016)
The 2016 Finals were incredible. It was a rematch of the 2015 NBA Finals, where the Golden State Warriors took on the Cleveland Cavaliers in LeBron James’ first season back with the Cavs. The Warriors won in 2015, but the Cavaliers made history the following year. The Cavs won their first championship in franchise history and broke the “Cleveland sports curse.” And, it took a legendary performance from James to seal the deal.
James finished this game with a 27-point triple-double. He had 27 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds. James did a bit of everything, and after some key plays from both himself and Kyrie Irving, the Cavs won. The Cavs overcame a 3-1 deficit in this series and as they say, the rest is history. James played well and we still talk about his performance (and this game) to this day.
3.) Dwyane Wade, Game 6 (2006)
Before Miami’s “Big Three” days, Dwyane Wade led his team to their first championship. Wade was the Heat’s star, and after going through teams such as the Detroit Pistons, the Heat faced the Dallas Mavericks in the finals. The Mavericks took a 2-0 lead in the series, but Miami did the impossible. They won the next four games to win the series 4-2. And Wade’s Game 6 performance sealed the deal. Wade had 36 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks. Wade won his first championship and while he won two more with LeBron James and Chris Bosh (while becoming the Heat’s second go-to player), we cannot forget this performance.
4.) Michael Jordan, Game 6 (1998)
Michael Jordan is no stranger to championships. He won six in his career, and in 1998, he won his sixth one in style. The Chicago Bulls had a bit of a shock, as the Utah Jazz won the first game of the series. But Chicago bounced back and in Game 6, they won a championship. Jordan had 45 points, four steals, one rebound and one assist. The Bulls won by one point, and the win came from Jordan’s game-winning shot over Bryon Russell. Jordan added to his legacy and to this day, we see highlights of his shot.
5.) Magic Johnson, Game 6 (1980)
In what was possibly the best finals performance ever, Lakers legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson was incredible. Johnson, a point guard, played center for the Lakers, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was out with an injury. Johnson stepped up to the plate and went on to have 42 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists. In only his first year in the league, Johnson led the Lakers to a championship. And it was the start of something special.
There have been many legendary performances, and as time goes on we will keep seeing more.