The greatest NBA performances of all time have influenced the league’s past. It’s where reputations are built and legacies are established.
Basketball players must sprint up and down the floor while almost simultaneously playing defence and offence. NBA players need to have a lot of speed, size, and agility, especially if they want to compete for a championship.
Although there are numerous performances that might be considered to be all-time favourites, we have cut it down to the top 10 greatest game performances, taking into account player effectiveness and dominance when their teams most needed them.
So let’s go back in time and examine the top 10 greatest game performances.
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10. Shaquille O’Neal, L.A. Lakers, 2000
In the 2000 NBA Finals, Shaq turned in one of his best games to help the Lakers get out to a winning start over the Indiana Pacers. The centre totally outclassed Indiana centre Rik Smits, scoring 43 points, 19 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. O’Neal and LA won three consecutive championships after the Lakers won the title in six games.
9. LeBron James, Miami Heat, 2011
With 29 points combined, Lebron James and teammate Amar’e Stoudemire lead the East. LeBron ended the game with 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a little more than 32 minutes, becoming just the second player in the history of the game to achieve a triple-double. He made 10 of his 18 field goals, or 55.6%, and nine of his ten free throw attempts.
8. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, 2016
Curry demonstrated his actual worth to the Golden State Warriors on the eve of his winning his second consecutive MVP award. Due to an injury, the guard missed the first three games of the playoff series against the Blazers, but as soon as he was well again, he excelled. Curry beat Portland in Game 4 and finished with 40 points, breaking the previous mark by scoring 17 points in overtime.
7. Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls, 1998
In this game, it all came down to a memorable Game 6 where Jordan produced one of the greatest Finals performances in a single game in history. Jordan eventually sealed the victory with the reported push-off game-winner that gave the Bulls their second triple-double after scoring 45 points in a back-and-forth contest. This will always be regarded as one of Jordan’s best performances because it was his final game wearing a Bulls outfit.
6. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers, 2011
Kobe Bryant gave a strong effort on February 20, 2011. His 37 points, which he scored on an effective 14 of 26 shooting performance, were a career-high for the game. But his 10 offensive rebounds were what made the game so amazing.
He played less than 30 minutes and finished the game with 14 total rebounds, three assists, and three steals. With four All-Star MVP honours, Bryant has now tied Bob Pettit for the most in NBA history.
5. James Worthy, L.A. Lakers, 1988
James scored 36 points while only missing seven of his 22 field goal attempts in this series against the Detroit Pistons. In a narrow two-point victory, the Hall of Famer packed the stat sheet with 36 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists, and 2 steals. After helping the Lakers win the title, he received the MVP honour in the 1988 NBA Finals.
4. Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls, 1988
In 1988, Michael Jordan dominated All-Star Weekend, defeating Dominique Wilkins and winning the MVP award for the All-Star Game in front of his Chicago supporters. In the final 5:51 of regulation, Jordan scored 16 of his game-high 40 points to secure the East a 138-133 victory.
He destroyed their defence with a scorching 17-of-23 field goal shooting performance. With eight rebounds, four steals, four blocks, and three assists, he finished second on the East, behind Moses Malone.
3. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, 2007
Lebron James took the spotlight against the Detroit Pistons as the Cavaliers won an exciting game in double overtime while playing on the road at one of the most difficult arenas in the NBA, The Palace of Auburn Hills. James led his club to a 3-2 series victory with 48 points, including 29 of Cleveland’s final 30 points. James defeated one of the greatest teams in NBA history by making 18 of his 33 shots while adding nine rebounds, seven assists, and two steals.
2. Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers, 1992
The 1992 All-Star Game performance by Magic Johnson was the most significant event in history. Prior to the 1991–92 season, he had just announced his retirement due to HIV infection. He finished with 25 points, nine assists, and five rebounds to lead the West to a 153-113 victory against the East and win his second and final All-Star MVP honour.
As players from both teams rushed out to greet him, Johnson’s three-pointer with 14.5 seconds left put an end to the night. He had emerged victorious in late-game showdowns with Michael Jordan and Isaiah Thomas.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks, 2021
One of the greatest Finals single-game performances of all time belongs to the Greek Freak. Giannis led his team to a decisive victory with 50 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, and 5 blocks. Fascinatingly, he entered the series shooting 55% from the line, but in a crucial game that solidified his legacy in Milwaukee and the NBA, he managed to hit 17-19 of his free-throw attempts.
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