It is common knowledge that there have been intense, gravity-defying moments in NBA history. Some of the best basketball players have challenged the greatest odds to give us game-winning shots. As expected, most of these wins have inspired countless fans to replay their own game-winning scenario and many young players who make the league always dream of a moment like that. With that said, hitting a shot under pressure isn’t easy. Palms get sweaty and the moment could be too much for some players. That is what separates great players from good ones.
While there’s a myriad of options to choose from, some particular clutch shots stand out for us. Therefore, we consider the following seven as the most memorable clutch moments in NBA history. Take a look!
Kobe Bryant, Lakers vs Phoenix Suns, 2006
“The moment you give up is the moment you let someone else win”The Late Kobe Bryant
This list wouldn’t be complete without including the late great Black Mamba. During Game 4 of the 2006 first-round series, the Phoenix Suns were leading in a game against the Lakers 98-97. With Raja Bell and Boris Diaw trailing Kobe Bryant, the superstar managed to catch a jump ball from Luke Walton.
Then, Bryant took the ball, and, with five dribbles, pulled up at the right elbow, hitting the game-winning shot and earning a frenzy reaction from the crowd. It was considered one of the most memorable moments in the legend’s career.
John Stockton, Utah Jazz vs Houston Rockets, 1997
“As he was dribbling it, I knew the game was over. It’s just a feeling you get. He makes that shot all the time. It was automatic”.Jeff Hornacek, Retired NBA Player
In the Western Conference finals, the Utah Jazz just had exactly 2.8 seconds in Game 6 to break a tie, when John Stockton made an unbelievable shot. Although Charles Barkley – Rockets forward – scrambled to stop Stockton, the legendary point guard was already on the move as he took one dribble. With the ball in hand, he hurled up the perfect three-ball. Once he scored the game-winning three-pointer that broke the 100-100 tie, he lost all poise and composure, exploding in victory as he sent Utah Jazz to the NBA finals!
Derek Fisher, Lakers vs Spurs, 2004
“I couldn’t believe it went in, honestly”Tim Duncan, Retired Hall Of Fame Basketball Player
The 2004 Game 5 matchup featuring the Lakers against the Spurs was filled with memorable moments. For one, Tim Duncan went for a miracle heave over Shaquille O’Neal in a jaw-dropping 22-foot fadeaway! Then one of the greatest moments in basketball history happened. Derek Fisher managed to score a game-winning shot even though there were only 0.4 seconds left on the clock! The San Antonio’s Spurs were leading with a 73-72 score, but Fisher managed to put in a buzzer-beater just as the clock ran out!
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers vs Warriors, 2016
“ALL I WAS THINKING ABOUT WAS MAMBA MENTALITY. JUST MAMBA MENTALITY, THAT’S ALL I WAS THINKING”Kyrie Irving, NBA Player
Uncle Drew plays like the champ he is, and he certainly didn’t phase away from the moment. It was game seven of the 2016 NBA finals. With the score tied at 89 apiece, and with under a minute left in the game, J.R. Smith set a screen on Klay Thompson. This forced a switch with Curry on Kyrie, which is exactly what the Cavaliers wanted. With a couple of dribbles through his legs, he pulled up for three with a hand in his face and sank the game-winning shot! Kyrie, LeBron, and the Cavs went on to win the championship moments later. The Cavaliers pulled off the upset and came back from a 3-1 series lead.
Ray Allen, Miami Heat vs Spurs, 2013
“It was an incredible thing to see. but that’s how Ray Allen was with his workouts. It was on all levels. His conditioning, his shooting, tying it all together, his footwork”Erik Spoelstra, NBA Coach
If you don’t remember this, you aren’t a true NBA fan. During the final seconds of Game 6 in the 2013 finals, everyone was declaring the championship for the Spurs. Bill Russell, who the NBA finals MVP is named after, was told to go to center court; to give the trophy to a Spurs player. Sportswriters were already starting their articles on how the Spurs won another championship.
Then, with 8.6 seconds left to go, Chris Bosh secured a big offensive rebound from LeBron’s miss. Ray Allen took a few steps back and was ready for the pass. He took that corner 3 so many times throughout his hall of fame career. He didn’t need to look down to see that he was behind the 3 point line when he took that shot, it was in his instincts at that point. The defense tried to scramble in a panic, but Ray Allen didn’t even hesitate and pulled the trigger. That tied the game with 5.2 seconds left. The Heat would go on to win that game, as well as game 7, stealing the championship away from the Spurs. Many would point to Allen’s clutch shot as the turning point in the series.
Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers, 2019
“Kawhi is the best, most clutch basketball player on earth right now”Max Kellerman, ESPN
Game 7, round 2 of the NBA playoffs. 4.2 seconds left in the game. The game is tied. The pressure is on. With the crowd holding their breaths in the arena, as well as the thousands in Jurassic Park right outside the arena, Marc Gasol inbounded the pass to Kawhi.
The superstar caught the ball with the defense all over him. Kawhi dribbled to his right with 4 dribbles, going right by Ben Simmons. After the 4th dribble, Kawhi effectively created some separation and pulled the trigger; elevating right over the 7″0 Joel Embid. The ball bounced 4 times and went in, and the replay showed the ball left Kawhi’s hands just before time expired. This earned the Raptors with a trip to the Conference finals against the Bucks, then eventually a win against the Warriors, resulting in Toronto’s first championship in franchise history.
Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz, 1998
“Fittingly, the last shot of Jordan’s playoff career was a game-winner”The Undefeated
The number one player made it to the top of our list and, in our opinion, should be so on every listing there is. To seal his sixth championship, Jordan crossed over Bryon Russell with this game-winning jumper. This shot was perfectly timed by the greatest player ever in NBA history. This shot is so iconic because it was the perfect ride off into the sunset moment. It won Jordan’s final championship as he went into his second retirement. Talk about perfect timing!