If there’s one thing every NBA can can agree with, it’s the sheer excitement of a game winning bucket. There’s just something about the rush of emotion and the intensity of the moment that captures the hearts of everyone watching.
It may just be one game, but these game winners help define truly legendary careers. MJ, Kobe, even LeBron. These guys were known for their greatness partly because of their ability to make the big shots.
Here, we’ve taken some of the NBA’s best game winners, and compiled them into one glorious list for you to enjoy:
Regular Season Bonus:
These two clips are reserved for the regular season category. While it can’t make the actual list, it seemed like a good idea to have a few random, special moments from the NBA History books.
Kobe Bryant vs Miami Heat
“The Lucky Bank”
This didn’t make the cut because it’s only a meaningless regular season game, but Kobe once again showed us his magic when he knocked down this shot against the Heat. With DWade in the game and the seconds clicking down, Kobe Bryant almost literally chucked the ball from about three or four steps behind the arc. Somehow, he actually got the shot to go in.
LeBron James vs Boston Celtics
“Keeping The Streak Alive”
Again, we had to put this separate from the others because this was a regular season game. But it deserves a mention because of what was at stake. The Miami Heat were chasing History, and their win streak was on the line. Only LeBron could save the day, and he wouldn’t disappoint. This shot made the Heat seem almost invincible and led to their 23rd straight win.
10. Paul Pierce vs Chicago Bulls
2009 NBA Playoffs
Not only did The Truth step up big here, but he did so on one of the biggest stages in sports. Game 5 of the 2009 Playoffs saw it’s fair share of highlight plays. But Paul Pierce takes the crown here, for showing us just how great he really was. The Celtics, obviously, do not make the Finals that year. But this shot is still one to remember.
9. LeBron James vs Oklahoma City Thunder
This was the moment we knew LeBron has arrived. After losing to the Mavericks the year before, all pressure was on the King to close the deal. Finally, he got it done. He showed up when it mattered most, and won a ring for the first time in his career. While the game did go to a Game 5, this shot definitely sealed the deal for Miami. Limping and hobbled, LeBron showed us more than we bargained for that night.
8. Derek Fisher vs San Antonio Spurs
2004 Western Conference Semi-Finals
When you talk about miracle heaves at the buzzer, this has got to be near the top. Like Pierce’s game winner at No.10, this one was made when the stakes were highest: Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference Semi’s. Thing is, the Spurs made a late shot as well and were about ready to celebrate before D-Fish made this miracle happen. Next time you look at the game clock and call it over, remember that it only takes less than a second.
7. Robbert Horry vs Sacramento Kings
The 2002 Western Conference Finals proved to be pretty surprising. The Kings did an impressive job on Kobe and Shaq, especially during this last play in Game 4. Who would’ve thought that the hero of the series would be Robbert Horry? While this would be the last championship Kobe and Shaq would ever win together, it was certainly a great way to end it all.
6. Dennis Johnson vs Detroit Pistons
The 1987 NBA Finals was one of the best ever. The Celtics and the Pistons were two great teams engaged in an absolute battle. In of the most widely recognized moments in NBA History, Larry Bird steals the ball off an inbounds pass and throws it to Dennis Johnson for the game-winning layup. When you talk about All-Time Celtic moments, this has to be near the top.
5. Michael Jordan vs Cleveland Cavaliers
Make no mistake about it, this shot helped MJ cement his young legacy. After missing two big free throws that could’ve ended the series last game, MJ redeemed himself with the shot of his life. While this would be just the start of many magical Jordan moments, it will certainly remain as one of the most memorable.
4. Kobe Bryant vs Phoenix Suns
“The Shot Heard Round The World”
Yes, we all know the Lakers for some reason couldn’t close the deal after this game. But when you watch the video, you’ll understand why it’s number 4 on this list. The sheer emotion and difficulty of Kobe’s amazing game winner proved once again that he is an All-Time great. Not only did he make an insanely tough mid-range jumper to win, but he also made the game-tying basket after a steal off the inbounds pass. This 2006 beauty may be one of the greatest Kobe moments ever, despite what happens after.
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs Boston Celtics
“The Double Team”
A double overtime and a Celtis double team in the 1974 NBA Finals still weren’t enough to stop the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In a back and forth game to the end, Kareem made an impossible shot from the side that swooshed in with .3 seconds left on the clock. Widely regarded as one of the most unstoppable shots in NBA History, Kareem used it to keep his season alive for just a little longer.
2. Michael Jordan vs Utah Jazz
“The Final Shot”
His last ring, his last days as a Chicago Bulls, was there a better way for MJ to go out? Disregarding his short stint with the Wizards, this was an awesome ending to an epic career. To win this Final ring, MJ hits this shot over one of the best defenders in the NBA in Byron Russell. When talking about the best performances, this game by Michael is one of the best.
1. Magic Johnson vs Boston Celtics
This iconic NBA Game winner is perhaps the greatest single moment in Magic’s career. In the 1987 NBA Finals, Magic shot his infamous sky hook to seal the deal and give the Lakers a dominating 3-1 series lead. Nobody knows how or why Magic was so good at that shot, but he knocked it down when it mattered most. It took a lot of guts and an insane amount of skill to get this done. And Magic did it with ease.