By Ryan Mayer CBS Local Sports
The wait is almost over. We’re a little over 24 hours away from the NBA Finals getting underway pitting the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James against the “Splash Brothers” of Golden State. It promises to be a very entertaining series with I’m sure a memorable moment or two thrown in along the way. To get you ready, here are my Top 5 NBA Finals Moments, and an opportunity for you to vote which one you think is the top moment in the poll at the tail end.
5) Game 6 2013 NBA Finals- Ray Allen Steals One From Spurs
This is pretty fresh in everyone’s memory I assume? There are a ton of memorable moments from the history of the Finals and don’t worry we’ll reach back into the time machine a bit. But how can you not have this shot on the list? The sequence is ridiculous. Missed three, offensive rebound by Bosh, hits Allen who’s backpedaling into the corner without looking is behind the three point line and buries the shot to tie the game – saving the series for Miami.
4) Game 6 1998 NBA Finals- Jordan Buries Jazz
This is one of two Jordan moments on this list. Should it be higher? Maybe, but that’s what the poll is for. If you’re a basketball fan, you know the story by now. Jordan stopped on a dime at the top of the key, his defender Byron Russell fell down and “His Airness” made him pay by burying the shot that would win the game 87-86 and give the Bulls their 6th title in 8 years.
3) Game 5 1980 NBA Finals- Magic Plays Center
Magic Johnson was an anomaly when he came to the NBA. At 6-foot-9 with the playmaking and shooting ability of a point guard, he was the first of his kind, versatile in a way that had never been seen. He proved just how versatile when Kareem Abdul Jabbar would miss Game 6 of the 1980 series against the 76ers and Johnson played center in his stead. All he did was rack up 42 points 15 rebounds and 7 assists to win the series.
2) Game 5 1997 Finals- The Flu Game
Here’s the second Jordan moment of the list. You know the story. Jordan came down with “flu-like symptoms” prior to Game 5 of the Finals with the series tied at 2. There was speculation that he wouldn’t be able to play in the game. He’s MJ so of course he not only played, but dominated the competition to the tune of 38 points 7 rebounds 5 assists and 3 steals.
1) Game 7 1970 Finals- The Willis Reed Game
This story is also extremely well known. Knicks center Willis Reed was struggling with a torn hamstring, had missed Game 6 and wasn’t expected to be able to play in Game 7. He managed to play through the pain and while not dominating offensively like the other guys on this list (only 4 points) his defense on Wilt was very good holding him to 2-9 shooting. Reed’s Knicks teammates inspired by his efforts pulled out a 113-99 win for their first and only NBA Championship.
You can give your thoughts, vote on the poll below for which of these five moments you think was the greatest!