So, this is it. The NBA Finals are upon us, and for the first time ever, we’re going to watch the very same teams go at it to try and win the title for the third consecutive time, as the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are set to play the tiebreaker to decide which one of them has the greatest team in the world.
Over time, we’ve seen some incredibly competitive and exciting NBA Finals featuring the greatest teams and players in basketball history, making fans from all over the globe fall in love with the most beautiful sport there has ever been.
Sadly, some of the youngsters don’t remember some of the classics, but that’s going to end right away, as we’re going to rank the top 10 greatest NBA Finals in history, so buckle up and enjoy.
Honorable Mention: Chicago Bulls (4) vs. Phoenix Suns (2) 1993
Check the top 10 greatest NBA Finals series of all-time:
10. Washington Bullets (4) vs. Seattle SuperSonics (3) 1978
Seattle SuperSonics were quite close to pulling it off, but the Bullets stole the last one on the road to seal one of the most back and forth Finals there have ever been, with all games decided by less than 10 points and no team winning back-to-back contests. The series were one of the most interesting in NBA History, and Washington Bullets won their first and last NBA Championship so far. Seattle Supersonics won the year after (the revenge) against the Bullets with 4-1 in the NBA Finals.
9. Los Angeles Lakers (4) vs. Detroit Pistons (3) 1988
Before the Lakers were destroyed by Isiah Thomas and his buddies in the 1989 Finals, Los Angeles actually took home the trophy in seven despite several stellar performances by one of the greatest guards in the history of the game. Sadly, Thomas was really banged up during the last two games of the series, opening the way for Los Angeles to take a couple of close victories and win the ring, but everybody knows that had Thomas been at full strength, things would’ve gone a lot different.
8. Los Angeles Lakers (4) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (2) 1980
Eight years before, the Lakers showed their great dominance led by rookie point guard Magic Johnson against Philly, who had to start in place of injured all-time great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, starting a huge legacy as one of the greatest players in Lakers history. Everybody thought the 6ers were definitely going to make the most of the opportunity to beat a Kareem-less Lakers after all 5 first contests were quite close, but Johnson showed his greatness and led the Lakers to a couple of blowout wins to win his first ever NBA championship.
7. New York Knicks (4) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (3) 1970
Even if this series wasn’t as close as the final score might tell, this has to go down as one of the greatest Finals, or at least individual performances in NBA Finals history, with Willis Reed playing out of his mind despite being severely injured to lead the Knicks to their first ever NBA ring, although to be fair, Walt Frazier was the true man behind the Knicks glory due to his outstanding performance against Los Angeles.
6. Boston Celtics (4) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (3) 1962
Way back in the day before the Bird-Magic rivalry, the Celtics handed the Lakers a very disappointing NBA Finals loss led by one of the most dominant players in NBA history, and the ultimate basketball player of his era: Bill Russell, who had the absurd amount of 44 rebounds to go along with 30 points in a thriller that Boston took with an advantage of just 3 points in a season where Russell also won the Most Valuable Player award.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers (4) vs. Golden State Warriors (3) 2016
Last year’s Finals were an instant classic, with the Golden State Warriors on the verge of winning back-to-back championships and once again destroying LeBron’s chances to give a ring to the city of Cleveland, owning a 3 to 1 lead over Lue’s squad before completely blowing it. Cleveland’s big three played out of their mind during games 5 and 6, completely winning the psychological battle against a demoralized Golden State team, sealing the humiliation with an amazing shot by Kyrie Irving over Steph Curry.
4. Boston Celtics (4) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (3) 1969
This rivalry makes another appearance on our list, as the '69 finals were a complete thriller with the Lakers being total favorites against the 4th seeded Celtics. Nevertheless, the C’s won Russell’s last championship led by Don Nelson’s breathtaking jump shot to give Boston the lead when time was about to expire, handling yet another heartbreaking loss to the Lakers before their dominance during the Showtime era.
3. Miami Heat (4) vs. San Antonio Spurs (3) 2013
King James makes our list once again, but most of the credit here has to go to Chris Bosh and Ray Allen, who sealed an amazing comeback late in Game 6 after most fans had left the American Airlines Arena. Allen’s three-pointer forced overtime with an inspired Miami Heat that completed the comeback and dominated every single aspect of the game in Game 7 in one of the most exciting and competitive NBA Finals we’ve ever seen.
2. Bulls (4) vs. Jazz (2) 1998
Michael Jordan made one of the most memorable shots in NBA history to win his third consecutive ring and second threepeat alongside Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson, and once again killing all hopes from Utah, Malone and Stockton. Except for one of the matchups, this series was a complete nail biter, but Jordan’s shot at the buzzer to lead the Bulls to the ring was one for the ages, making it reach the silver spot on the podium of our list.
1. Boston Celtics (4) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (3) 1984
Of course, the best NBA Finals ever has to be yet another featuring the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers in seven games, with Larry Bird winning the Finals MVP. These Finals featured not one, not two, but 8 Hall of Famers in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bird, Magic, Bob McAdoo, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, James Worthy and Dennis Johnson, being a complete thriller from the very first second of the matchup. Nobody was able to win back to back games, and the C’s managed to prevail in overtime due to a clutch steal from Henderson over James Worthy, in what would’ve meant a 2-0 Los Angeles lead that could’ve changed the course of basketball history.