The Greatest NBA Finals Performances Of All Time

The Greatest NBA Finals Performances Of All Time

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Legends are made and legacies are secured in the spotlight of the NBA Finals, where a transcendent performance can forever seal a spot as one of the greatest NBA players ever, or a bad one can forever seal your fate as Karl Malone. Here are The Onion’s greatest NBA finals performances of all time.

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Magic Johnson, 1980

Magic Johnson, 1980

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Magic famously played all 20 known positions of the basketball game in the last five minutes to help put the series away, including the coach, play-by-play guy, and the sweat guy by sliding his body over the court to keep the floor dry.

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Michael Jordan, 1998

Michael Jordan, 1998

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Jordan sealed a sixth title, capping off another iconic performance, with his famous “last shot.” But a close view of the replay shows the Hall of Famer clearly pushing off and then repeatedly stabbing Bryon Russell.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 1971

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 1971

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After putting up 27 and 12 in a clinching Game 4, the then Lew Alcindor called a press conference where he requested reporters call him by his Muslim name, Muhammad Ali, and then several hours later called another press conference to ask reporters to give him a week.

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Kevin Durant, 2017

Kevin Durant, 2017

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Advanced metrics rate this the greatest-ever playoff performance by a soft, bandwagoning little toady.

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George Mikan, 1950

George Mikan, 1950

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Mikan’s size and post prowess allowed him to have a completely dominant performance against the Syracuse Nationals’ two stars, Ricky “Smelly Buckle” Perry and Henry “Two Shoes, One Sock” Foust.

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Dwayne Wade, 2006

Dwayne Wade, 2006

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Three years into his career, Dwayne Wade used the 2006 Finals as a platform to come out as one of the best players in the world, and cemented himself as the future host of The Cube on Thursdays at 9/8 Central on TBS.

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Kevin Garnett, 2008

Kevin Garnett, 2008


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He would be mad if we left him off the list and we wouldn’t want to make him angry.

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Tim Dunan, 1999

Tim Dunan, 1999

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After averaging 27.4 points and 14 rebounds in almost 46 minutes, Duncan celebrated his first Finals MVP by quietly enjoying a soft pretzel while visiting San Antonio’s Witte Museum.

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LeBron James, 2016

LeBron James, 2016

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Overcame a 3-1 deficit to Warriors by refusing to lose, successfully seeking an injunction to halt the Finals in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals until the Cavaliers could eek out a victory 15 months later.

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Wilt Chamberlain, 1967

Wilt Chamberlain, 1967

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Wilt the Stilt drew major accolades for his remarkable performance in 1967 Finals, in which he personally led the 76ers to a title while simultaneously increasing the population of Philly by 35%.

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Shaquille O’Neal, 2002

Shaquille O’Neal, 2002

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For his third straight title and Finals MVP, Shaq powered the Lakers to a sweep with the grueling strategy of standing under the basket and dunking, only to be interrupted every so often to miss some free throws.

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Hakeem Olajuwon, 1995

Hakeem Olajuwon, 1995

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Olajuwon took a fourth seed to a championship in a spectacular achievement that sadly doesn’t count because Jordan was not playing that year.

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Bill Walton, 1977

Bill Walton, 1977

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Walton’s mastery of his third eye transcended to the basketball court and helped lock down defense on the spiritual plane.

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