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In light of the recent criticism that Lebron James has received for his extremely mediocre performances in Game 4 and the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, I decided to do a write-up on the most outstanding moments by a single player in a Championship setting because I’m sure – if you are like me (Lebron fan or not) – you don’t want to hear anything more about ‘The King.’ I wanted to tie this Top 5 into this year’s Finals, alluding to the fact that something is likely going to happen in the next two games from LeBron, Wade, or Dirk that is going to drop our jaws. Whether you believe it or not, odds are it’s going to happen. Iconic moments in the Finals have been cherished via memory for years upon years by NBA Fans; and if something amazing happens in the next two games – Sunday or Tuesday – we will be able to compare the event to those of the past that I am about to dig in to. So without further adi I give you, in my opinion, the top Final’s moments. Roll the Clips!

Number 5 : Mr.Clutch in Crunch Time

Easily the most controversial of this top 5, Robert “Mr.Clutch” Horry comes in at number five; burying a three with only 5.9 remaining in the first overtime period of Game 5 of the 2005 NBA Finals. Now of course Horry has hit some meaningful shots in his career during the Playoffs and Finals – this was not the first. No one can forget the buzzer beater in the 2002 Western Conference Finals against the Sacramento Kings, it could have definitely been more thrilling because it was at the buzzer in LA and it sent the crowd into a frenzy – if only it was in the NBA Finals. The thing that makes this game particularly special for Horry, however, is that he had quite a few plays down the stretch that made him look like the star of that San Antonio team. The dunk is my personal favorite, possibly one of the best in NBA Finals history. Horry transcended “crunch time” in the Playoffs – more importantly the Finals – and for that I think it is only fair that he be recognized in our Top 5.

Number 4 : The Baby Hook

Simply an amazing shot, dubbed “the Baby Hook”, the 12-footer will be remembered by the utility point guard forever. In Game 4, with seven seconds remaining the ball was inbounded to Earvin “Magic” Johnson, he drove right from the left wing, launched the ball over his shoulder – a Kareem Abdul-Jabber-esque hook shot – and watched it fall through the Nylon. Larry Bird summed it up best with his comment on the shot, he said after the game, “You expect to lose to the Lakers on a sky-hook, you don’t expect it to be from Magic.” Who knew a point guard – despite his height – could deliver such a low-post move in crunch time during the NBA Finals?

Number 3 : MJ’s Iconic Reverse

It was heard from around the world as it electrified the Chicago crowd, and 20 years later it does not disappoint. The Switch-Hand or reverse lay-up that Michael Jordan delivered in the 1991 NBA Finals was nothing short of a “SPECTACULAR MOVE,” in the words of Marv Albert. Going up to dunk the ball, Jordan realized that nearby Laker defenders may try to contest his shot. In mid-air, ‘His Royal Airness’ did not disappoint when he switched the ball to the other hand, kissing it off the glass, and laying the ball into the basket. He defied gravity on this one play, soaring through the air in what seemed like slow motion. Have you ever seen a shot with such concentration? I think not.

Number 2 : The Scoop

Julius “Dr.J” Erving comes into the Top 5 in the second position for his miraculous lay up in the 1980 NBA Finals. Driving from the wing, Erving saw that three defenders – including his own – were quickly collapsing on him. Not knowing quite how to put the ball up with the right hand on the right side of the basket, Erving decided to alter his shot. ‘[He] jumped, holding the ball out-of-bounds but keeping [his] body in bounds, and then just waited.’ After the couple of seconds that seemed to take an eternity to terminate, Erving had laid the ball up on the other side of the basket…NEVER switching hands. The combination of athleticism and skill one must contain to pull a move off with this degree of difficulty is something you rarely see in the NBA – and when I say rarely, I mean there is only enough guys to count on two hands that could probably pull that move off in NBA History. Dr.J gave us a special highlight that will be remembered for quite some time to come.

Number 1 : The Dagger

“His Royal Airness” was undoubtedly the greatest player to ever play the game of basketball. When I decided to research and create this article I made a mental note to not let this become the Top 5 Michael Jordan NBA Finals moments. It only goes to show how many of these highlights he had; each giving us a reason to believe anything was possible on the biggest stage. Already coming in at Number 3 (The Iconic Reverse), here he is at Number 1 – yet another moment in his historic career that had all NBA fans in awe; the dagger. With his 6th championship on the line, Jordan delivered in crunch time during the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz – a team led by John Stockton and Karl Malone. The Jazz wanted this championship just as badly as Jordan and his Bulls, and it made the series even more compelling. Every fan thought Jordan was tired and fatigued from the wear and tear over the course of his career during the series but in this final rally Jordan would do as any great does; prevail. With less than a minute remaining MJ drove to the basket and laid the ball up, ripping through three defenders before he did so. Then…after a steal by who else but Jordan…he brought the ball down the floor as the seconds ticked off the clock. Dribbled right from the left wing, crossed over making his defender fall, taking a picture perfect elbow jump-shot, he watched it fall straight through the Nylon scoring his 45th point, held his follow through for a few show-boating seconds, and then ran to the bench. Greatness, Clutch, Perfection; all three were elements to the shot he hit with 5.2 seconds to go.

Honorable Mention: I had to give a quick shout out to the Michael Jordan Flu Game, Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, in which he had a 103 degree temperature and was nearly blowing chunks. In light of the recent performance by Dirk Nowitzki playing with a sinus infection – 102 degree temperature, wheezing and coughing – I figured it was in order to give Michael an honorable mention for this courageous performance. It was a close runner-up to these outstanding Final’s moments, but – again – I did not want this to be a Top 5 purely based on Michael. Although how many people do you know that can score 38 points, have 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals, in an NBA Finals game…..while they are dog sick?! Not many.

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