Bernucca: The Top Five NBA Finals Game 7’s

Tim DuncanYounger NBA fans have been spoiled by Game 7s.

Tonight’s showdown in Miami between the Heat and Spurs is the third Game 7 in the NBA Finals in the last nine years. Prior to that, there had been just one in the previous 16 years.

Game 7’s are like tax returns, pizza and sex; they’re never really bad. But they can be really good, and as Game 7’s go, we haven’t had a really good one in a long time.

Yes, Celtics-Lakers in 2010 had the allure of the league’s two greatest franchises, a second-half comeback by LA and a gallant effort down the stretch by Boston. But the game was like a trip to the dentist as the teams combined for 162 points.

Yes, Pistons-Spurs in 2005 featured the league’s last two champions, with good friends and coaches Larry Brown and Gregg Popovich trying to outsmart each other and the game tied entering the fourth quarter. Overall, it was another tooth extraction as the teams combined for all of 155 points without a signature moment.

Before that, you have to go back to Knicks-Rockets in 1994, which has a lasting image of John Starks unable to hit the ocean from the shoreline. That entire season – equipped with a shorter 3-point line but without the retired Michael Jordan – set back the sport about a decade.

Here’s how unmemorable those games really are. On the NBA’s website, they have pages dedicated to the greatest moments of each decade. Pistons-Spurs in 2005 and Knicks-Rockets in 1994 don’t make the cut.

Let’s hope that tonight’s game reminds us why “Game 7″ are the two best words in sports, gives us indelible moments that stay with us forever and crashes the list of top five NBA Finals Game 7’s, which is below:

5. Lakers-Knicks, 1970: If game quality was our only measuring stick, Celtics-Bucks in 1974 probably would occupy this spot, because this game wasn’t good at all. The Knicks led by 27 points at halftime and won, 113-99. But the staging was spectacular.

Knicks center Willis Reed suffered a knee injury in Game 5, missed Game 6 and was doubtful for Game 7, which would have left New York without anyone to battle Wilt Chamberlain, who had scored 45 in Game 6.

Fortified with a cortisone shot, Reed hobbled out of the tunnel onto the court, sending the Madison Square Garden crowd – anticipating the franchise’s first title – into a frenzy. He scored twice in the first two minutes and nearly brought down the building.

Reed didn’t score again, but the Knicks didn’t need him, because Walt Frazier was having his way with Jerry West, lighting up “Mr. Clutch” for 36 points, 19 assists and five steals. It was LA’s seventh Finals loss in nine years. Think about the never-ending narrative that run of failure would have in today’s media.

You can watch the whole game right here.


  1. says

    Bird is a better shooter and scorer (if Bird shot as much as lebron he’d have more points) and he’s a better passer but again he doesn’t have the ball in his had as much so he has less assist. Bird is a better teammate because he doesn’t have to be involved with everything he plays off the ball better. You ever notice how lebron lead teams live and die with him? Because he is involved with every play. He doesn’t let his teammates take over. Also those stats are stuffed. Lebron plays bell to bell and even if it’s a blowout he will continue to build up stats. As soon as he realizes he can’t win he goes to hero ball which fills up his score sheet. So bird is a better rebounder, passer, shooter and scorer. So explain how is lebron better? Because I’d take bird over bron any day.

  2. says

    that the severity of his ijruny is being fabricated in an attempt to scare off would-be bidders. Sources tell me Davis hopes to end up with the Knicks, and if he does, he could be available to go w And all of that explains why the Knicks were so hopeful that Jamal Crawford would accept their $2.5

  3. says

    1984 Game 7:Boston 111, Los Angeles 102: This seven game slugfest, the first of 3 featuring Bird vs. Magic culminated in a Boston Victory that set a competitive standard for the rest of the Decade, and may have saved the NBA. Bird drew first blood by winning MVP honors, but Magic and Kareem would pay him back the favor 12 months later. 7 Hall of Fame Players and Two Coaches both in the Hall.

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