The NBA, National Basketball Association, has witnessed countless heart-stopping moments and historic clashes on the hardwood. The pulse-pounding NBA games and the exhilarating NBA scores serve as a testament to the enduring popularity of the sport, one that captivates fans worldwide. In this blog, we embark on a journey through time, revisiting the unforgettable moments that have made the NBA one of the most popular sports on the planet. We’ll be delving into the annals of history to uncover the top 10 NBA games of all time, each a canvas upon which the world’s top basketball players painted their indelible legacies. From buzzer-beaters that still echo through arenas to thrilling comebacks that defied the odds, these games stand as monuments to the enduring magic of the NBA.

1. The Memorial Day Miracle- May 31, 1999

The Memorial Day Miracle- May 31, 1999
Source: Sports Illustrated

It was a moment etched in the annals of NBA history – the San Antonio Spurs were trailing the Portland Trail Blazers by 15 points with just 2:35 left in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. But led by Sean Elliott, the Spurs staged an incredible comeback. Elliott’s legendary three-pointer with 9.9 seconds left gave the Spurs a 86-85 victory and a 2-0 series lead. The NBA score was etched in the books, but it was the sheer determination and courage of the Spurs that made this game unforgettable.

2. The Shot- May 7, 1989

The Shot- May 7, 1989
Source: CBC

In the thrilling context of Game 5 during the first round between the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the series locked at 2-2, Michael Jordan, the man destined to become the greatest basketball player of all time, etched his defining moment into history. With only 6 seconds left on the clock and the Bulls trailing 100-99, Jordan gracefully elevated and executed “The Shot,” an incredible game-winning move that instantaneously silenced the raucous Cleveland crowd and propelled Chicago to a memorable victory. The NBA score showed 101-100, but it was Jordan’s heroics that etched this game into the annals of history.

3. Linsanity- February 4, 2012

Linsanity- February 4, 2012
Source: Grantland

The New York Knicks were going through a rough patch, but then Jeremy Lin came off the bench to lead an astonishing comeback against the New Jersey Nets. Linsanity was born as Lin scored 25 points, dished out 7 assists, and grabbed 5 rebounds, all while sporting a broad smile. The final NBA score, 99-92, in favor of the Knicks, only told part of the story. This was the game that thrust Jeremy Lin into the global spotlight.

4. The Duel of Legends- June 8, 1986

larry bird
Source : The Wenatchee World

In Game 5 of the 1986 NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics faced off against the Houston Rockets. It wasn’t just any game; it was a classic showdown between Larry Bird and Hakeem Olajuwon. Bird scored 34 points, but it was his steal and dish to Dennis Johnson for the game-winning layup that stands out. The NBA score, 111-106, favored the Celtics, but the legendary status of this game is all about Bird’s clutch play and basketball IQ.

5. The Malice at the Palace- November 19, 2004

The Malice at the Palace- November 19, 2004
Source: Yahoo Sports

While the NBA score was 97-82 in favor of the Indiana Pacers over the Detroit Pistons, it’s not the score that makes this game unforgettable but the infamous brawl that took place. Ron Artest, Ben Wallace, and a whole cast of players got involved in a fight that spilled into the stands. It was a dark day in NBA history, reminding us that the game isn’t just about scoring but also about sportsmanship and discipline.

6. Magic vs. Bird- June 9, 1984

Magic vs. Bird- June 9, 19841
Source: Irish Mirror

The NBA Finals in 1984 saw the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics face off, with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, two of the game’s greatest rivals, leading their teams. In Game 4, the Lakers secured a 107-106 victory. While the NBA score decided the winner, the matchup between these two legends defined the era and helped shape the NBA into the global phenomenon it is today.

7. The Flu Game- June 11, 1997

The Flu Game- June 11, 1997
Source: IMDb

Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz is renowned not only for the NBA score (90-88 in favor of the Bulls) but also for Michael Jordan’s legendary performance while battling the flu. Jordan, often regarded as one of the top basketball players in history, managed to score 38 points. Consequently, his sheer determination and grit not only captivated fans but also propelled the Bulls to victory. As a result, this game stands as a true testament to the greatness of “His Airness.”

8. The Allen Iverson Stepover- June 6, 2001

The Allen Iverson Stepover- June 6, 2001
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers featured a memorable moment when Allen Iverson made a stepback jumper over Tyronn Lue. After hitting the shot, Iverson famously stepped over Lue, who had fallen to the floor. The 76ers won the game 107-101, and Iverson’s iconic stepover is forever etched in NBA history.

9. The ‘Sheed’ Three- June 6, 2004

2004 NBA Finals

In Game 5 of the 2004 NBA Finals, the Detroit Pistons faced the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers were on the brink of tying the game when Rasheed Wallace blocked Shaquille O’Neal’s dunk attempt. The Pistons won 87-75 and took a 3-2 series lead. However, the NBA score didn’t showcase the significance of this game-changing block and the Pistons’ ultimate championship victory. The Lakers were the defending champions and were heavily favored to win the series. However, in this context, “The Sheed Three” became one of the most iconic moments in NBA Finals history.

10. The Horry Shot- June 11, 2005

The Horry Shot- June 11, 2005 -NBA games
Source: Air Alamo

In Game 5 of the 2005 NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Detroit Pistons, Robert Horry hit a game-winning three-pointer with 5.8 seconds remaining, securing a 96-95 victory for the Spurs. The NBA score reflected the narrow margin, but it was Horry’s clutch shot that earned him the nickname “Big Shot Bob.” The Horry Shot was one of the most iconic moments in NBA history and helped the Spurs win their third NBA championship in four years. 

11. 81-Point Game- January 22, 2006

81-Point Game- January 22, 2006 -NBA games
Source: Chicago Tribune

Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors is a record that still stands today. Remarkably, while the NBA score showed 122-104 in favor of the Los Angeles Lakers, it was Kobe’s scoring masterpiece that took center stage. Moreover, Kobe Bryant’s 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, marking the second-highest single-game scoring performance in NBA history, is a testament to his unparalleled skill and scoring prowess. Consequently, this game showcased Kobe’s scoring ability at its peak and solidified his status as one of the greatest scorers in NBA history.

12. The Youngest MVP- May 5, 2011

The Youngest MVP- May 5, 2011-NBA games
Source: Reddit

In Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Chicago Bulls faced the Atlanta Hawks. Derrick Rose, undoubtedly one of the top basketball players in the league, was in the midst of his MVP season. With 36 points to his name, Rose orchestrated a masterpiece, culminating in a game-winning floater that sealed an 86-84 victory for the Bulls. This thrilling victory marked a defining moment for Rose, highlighting his incredible talent and clutch performance under pressure. Consequently, it was this kind of play that led to Derrick Rose becoming the youngest player in NBA history to win the Most Valuable Player award, solidifying his status as one of the league’s brightest stars. As a result, his MVP award served as a testament to his remarkable talent and unwavering work ethic.

13. Ray Allen’s Clutch Three- June 18, 2013

Ray Allen's Clutch Three- June 18, 2013 -NBA games
Source: Sporting News

During Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat found themselves teetering on the edge of elimination against the San Antonio Spurs. They were down by three points with just seconds remaining. LeBron James missed a three-pointer, but Chris Bosh managed to secure the offensive rebound and found Ray Allen, who drained a game-tying three-pointer with 5.2 seconds left. The Heat went on to win in overtime, consequently, Ray Allen’s clutch shot became one of the defining moments of his career.

14. The Game 7 Showdown- June 19, 2016

The Game 7 Showdown- June 19, 2016 -NBA games
Source: SFGATE

In one of the most thrilling NBA Finals matchups in recent memory, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors squared off in Game 7. The NBA score read 93-89 in favor of the Cavs. However, it was LeBron James’ historic block on Andre Iguodala and Kyrie Irving’s clutch three-pointer that sealed the game and brought a championship to Cleveland after a 52-year drought.

15. LeBron’s Game-Winning Block- June 7, 2018

LeBron's Game-Winning Block- June 7, 20181 -NBA games
Source: Washington Post

In Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Golden State Warriors. With the game tied, Kevin Durant attempted a go-ahead shot. However, in a moment that would go down in history, LeBron James made an incredible chasedown block. The final NBA score showed 114-124 in favor of the Warriors. Nevertheless, it was LeBron’s heroic defensive play that defined the game and left fans in awe.

As we draw the curtain on our journey through the annals of NBA history, it’s abundantly clear that these remarkable NBA games transcend mere numbers on the NBA scoresheet. Instead, they encapsulate the true essence of basketball, where skill, strategy, and sheer determination converge to create moments that etch themselves into the collective memory of basketball enthusiasts. These games showcase the indomitable spirit of top basketball players who, through their unparalleled talent and unwavering resolve, have created lasting legacies on the hardwood. The NBA games we’ve explored here remind us why we’re so passionate about this sport, and they continue to inspire generations of fans worldwide. In the ever-evolving tapestry of the NBA, these unforgettable moments remain bright stars that illuminate the path for future generations of basketball players and enthusiasts.