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The NBA playoffs are the pinnacle of basketball, where the best teams in the league face off in a battle for the championship.
Over the years, there have been countless unforgettable moments that have captured the hearts and minds of basketball fans around the world. From buzzer-beating shots to clutch performances by legends of the game, these are some of the most memorable NBA playoff moments.
Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game” (1997 NBA Finals, Game 5)
Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals will always be remembered as the “Flu Game” thanks to Michael Jordan’s incredible performance despite being under the weather. Jordan was visibly sick and many questioned whether he would even be able to play.
But MJ was determined to help his team secure a win and he pushed through the illness to deliver one of the greatest performances in NBA playoff history.
Jordan’s flu-like symptoms were so severe that he had to be taken to the hospital the night before the game. He was suffering from nausea, dehydration and a high fever. Many of his teammates and coaches didn’t think he would be able to play. But Jordan refused to give up as he was determined to be on the court for his team.
Jordan’s performance in the “Flu Game” was a testament to his willpower and determination. He refused to give up despite his illness and pushed himself to the limit to help his team secure a crucial win.
His 38-point performance is widely regarded as one of the greatest individual performances in NBA playoff history and it will always be remembered as arguably one of MJ’s most iconic moments.
Kobe Bryant’s 81-Point Game (2006 NBA Playoffs)
January 22, 2006, will forever be remembered in NBA history as the day when Kobe Bryant showcased one of the most incredible individual playoff performances of all time.
On this day, the legendary shooting guard put on an absolute scoring clinic against the Raptors, scoring a massive 81 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to an unforgettable victory.
Kobe’s scoring outburst was nothing short of remarkable. He scored 55 points in the second half alone, including 28 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Lakers back from a double-digit deficit and secure the win. He made 28 of his 46 field goal attempts, including 7 of 13 from beyond the arc, and sank 18 of his 20 free throws.
Ray Allen’s Buzzer-Beating Three-Pointer (2013 NBA Finals, Game 6)
In Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, the Heat were trailing the San Antonio Spurs by three points with just seconds remaining. With their backs against the wall, Ray Allen hit a clutch three-pointer to tie the game and send it into overtime. The Heat went on to win the game and the series, thanks in large part to Allen’s heroics.
LeBron James’ Block in Game 7 (2016 NBA Finals, Game 7)
In Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers were facing the Golden State Warriors in a winner-take-all showdown. With just minutes remaining in the game, the Warriors had a chance to take the lead, but future Hall of Famer LeBron James made a clutch block on Andre Iguodala’s layup attempt. The block sparked a fast break that led to a Kyrie Irving three-pointer, giving the Cavaliers the lead and ultimately the coveted NBA trophy.
Magic Johnson’s “Junior Skyhook” (1987 NBA Finals, Game 4)
In Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals, the Lakers were facing their arch-rivals the Boston Celtics in a critical game. With just seconds remaining, Magic Johnson hit a shot that has since become known as the “Junior Skyhook.” His shot gave the Lakers a one-point lead, they went on to win the game and eventually the championship.