DAR Sports: The Best NBA Finals

By @TrueGodImmortal

As you saw yesterday, we talk the best NFL Super Bowls and today, we look at a list of the greatest NBA Finals. Over the years, there have been amazing displays during the Finals, with some series being etched in history for their iconic moments and great games. My list only features series that went 6 games at least and either set the tone for something big or had an awe inspiring performance from players. Let's get into it.

*1962 NBA Finals
Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics

-Obviously I'm not old enough to remember this and I wasn't alive to really witness this series. I've only seen minimal footage of this series in full, but it remains one of the best series in NBA Finals history. Game 7 was decided in overtime and Bill Russell had an amazing performance that led the Celtics to one of their many championships in the 60s. This is a very noteworthy Finals and though I have my own opinion on basketball in this day, the legacy of these older Finals always will live on.

*1969 NBA Finals
Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics

-The greatest rivalry in basketball history has yet another chapter in it. This was a great series, as the two teams seemed to put forth much effort to make sure they walked away with the title. This falls into the category of 1962 for me, as I didn't witness it and there wasn't a ton of video that I could find on it, but regardless it was a great series and a classic. The Celtics dominated the battles against the Lakers during this period and they would win another 7 game series here.

*1980 NBA Finals
Los Angeles Lakers vs Philadelphia 76ers

-The beginning of the Showtime Lakers. With league MVP Kareem Abdul Jabbar leading the charge and an amazing rookie named Magic Johnson on their side, the Lakers were focused on the path to greatness. Julius Erving and the Sixers were also ready to bring home a championship to Philadelphia and they came with their best, but the Lakers were just too much for them. Game 4 featured the infamous Julius Erving "baseline move", Game 5 featured a Kareem injury, and Game 6 featured an amazing display from Magic Johnson to close out the series and give the Lakers the championship. Magic got the Finals MVP and that's only due to Kareem going down with injury because he seemed like a lock to win it otherwise. Regardless, the Showtime Lakers were born here and the legend of Magic was born as well.

*1984 NBA Finals
Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics

-The greatest rivalry once again. Showdown 84. The league MVP Larry Bird led the dominant Celtics to take on the dominant Showtime Lakers. This was a true battle through and through, with the teams trading victory after victory before a decisive game 7. Game 7 went down to the wire for sure, and the Lakers managed to cut a 14 point deficit, but the Celtics would manage to pull out the win with a 111-102 victory to win the championship and Bird would be named the Finals MVP. This was one of the most significant battles in NBA Finals history and the landmark series of the 80's between the Celtics and Lakers. Their 1985 and 1987 series were fun and saw the Lakers win, but this was the best back and forth series between the two teams in the 80's.

*1988 NBA Finals
Detroit Pistons vs Los Angeles Lakers 

-The Showtime Lakers era was closing. It was almost over. After winning a ton of titles in the 80's and the most Finals appearances in the decade, the Lakers had one last hurrah as a dynasty. The Pistons were becoming the team to beat in the East however and they were truly ready to answer the challenge. This series is one of the top 3 of all time IMO, as both teams fought a heavy battle to win the title and the game 6 performance from Isiah Thomas with an injured ankle is one of the greatest things I've ever witnessed in the NBA. 25 points in the third quarter and somehow the Pistons still lost. I hadn't witnessed anything like that, but that defines this series, along with the fact that the Lakers seemed to know their time was up. They had dominated but now they were getting older and the era was changing. Still, this is one of the best series ever in NBA history and the Lakers pulled out a huge victory for the title. Game 6 and 7 in this series are classics. The Pistons would come back and sweep the Lakers the very next year.

*1993 NBA Finals
Chicago Bulls vs Phoenix Suns

-This series is one of my personal favorites. A young True was the biggest fan of Charles Barkley. I was also the biggest fan of Michael Jordan also. To watch them do battle in the Finals was absolutely amazing and something that I truly loved to witness. However, what always sticks out about this series is how the Bulls were perennial underdogs going into the series. Jordan and the Bulls were back to back champions and no one expected them to win a third honestly going into the playoffs. The Knicks seemingly almost had their number, but they closed them out. As this series went on, it was evident that Michael Jordan was the best player in the game still despite Barkley being awarded the MVP. I think the Suns being the no. 1 team in the NBA and a team of destiny was a great narrative, but when it comes to Jordan in the Finals, no one stops him. From Paxson's game winner to clinch the series to the great Jordan performances throughout the series, this is one of the all time greatest.

*1994 NBA Finals
New York Knicks vs Houston Rockets 

-This is the greatest NBA Finals next to the Pistons vs Lakers in my opinion. 7 games. Two of the best centers in the game and the post Jordan era. For the first time in 3 years, Jordan wasn't in the Finals and a new champion would be crowned. This set the tone for the Rockets and Knicks to slug it out and I truly feel like the Knicks were going to win and in some ways they probably should have. The Rockets fought back after a 3-2 deficit and the Knicks got lackadaisical after going up in the series and they would end up paying for it in game 6. The Knicks were clearly a tougher and better team, but the Rockets were pushed to showcase heart that we hadn't seen from them in previous years. The Rockets walked away with the title and began the era of Clutch City. Hakeem won Finals MVP and rightfully so, as he took to Ewing throughout the season. This was such a battle that I love watching the games even now.

1997 NBA Finals
Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz

-This was a classic as well. It remains one of my favorites because of the "Flu Game", which is the biggest reason for its inclusion on this list anyways. Jordan and the Bulls were going against Karl Malone, the MVP,  and the Jazz. The Jazz seemed to have the Bulls number at times, but couldn't manage to close them out or really gain the edge on a Bulls team that went 72-10 and 69-13 in back to back seasons. Jordan and the Bulls would win their 5th title in 7 years and their 2nd in a row in the process of another epic three-peat in a 6 game classic series.

*1998 NBA Finals
Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz

-I almost consider this the greatest NBA Finals of all time. I watched this Finals and every time I think of it, it really stands out as the most pivotal moment in NBA history almost. Jordan and company were truly something else at the time, and on the path to another three-peat. With that being in the works, the Jazz sought redemption for their huge loss the year before. Unfortunately for the Jazz, it was not meant to be their year or their title. The Bulls struggled in game 6, but when it mattered most, they had Jordan in the clutch with the game winning shot and series clinching shot. The Jordan Shot is one of the most iconic moments in NBA history and probably the greatest moment in Jordan's history as well.

*2000 NBA Finals
Los Angeles Lakers vs Indiana Pacers

-This Finals was more so great to me because Kobe started his journey into superstardom and into being one of the most dominant players in the league. Kobe stepped up in a big way and Shaq was his usual dominant self as the Pacers gave the Lakers a hell of a challenge through this 6 game series. However, after a 67-15 season, the Lakers went ahead and stormed to the Finals after some tough battles. The Pacers pushed ahead to the Finals and while they were formidable opponents, the beginning of the new Lakers dynasty was well underway.

*2005 NBA Finals
San Antonio Spurs vs Detroit Pistons

-This is an underrated series for many reasons, but the Spurs and Pistons was a brawl of epic proportions. While it wasn't the most exciting series, it was definitely an interesting battle and of heavy defense. The Spurs struggled some to keep the Pistons in check, and the Pistons struggled putting the Spurs away. Only one game had over 100 points by either team, and that was game 4. There were some blowouts, some close games, and a game 7 that could have gone either way. While Tim Duncan won Finals MVP, I think the best player of the series was Manu Ginobili. He busted his ass and was a big part of the Spurs winning. When I look back on the series, Tim and Manu equal showed up and did what they needed to do.

*2006 NBA Finals
Dallas Mavericks vs Miami Heat

-This is here for one reason: Dwyane Wade. This series was interesting, as the Mavs seemed to be coasting to a title after going up 2-0. Then in games 3, 4, 5, and 6, Wade went insane and started scoring out of his mind. The Heat would win 4 straight after losing the first two and this is where the legacy of Dwyane Wade was truly solidified. This performance coupled with help from Shaq and a mostly solid supporting cast led Miami to prominence and a NBA Title.

*2010 NBA Finals
Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics

-This was the rekindling of the rivalry between the greatest teams of all time and this time Kobe was focused. They had battled 2 years prior as the Celtics ruined Kobe's MVP season by winning in 6 games. 2 years later, the Lakers would walk away with their 2nd straight championship and rid themselves of the Celtics demon from the past. 7 games. Down to the wire. The Lakers proved they had the heart and will to make it happen, as they won another championship and Kobe won his 5th and final ring.

*2013 NBA Finals
San Antonio Spurs vs Miami Heat

-This might be the greatest Finals ever. Ever. This Finals has some of the most epic drama in NBA Finals history, along with the stakes being higher than ever. After the Heat barely got beyond the Pacers in the Conference Finals, they seemingly were about to lose the Finals and the Spurs began celebrating with just seconds left in game 6. This was a huge mistake. Tim Duncan was on the bench for some reason and when a missed Lebron three was rebounded by Bosh and kicked out to Ray Allen to inject life into the Heat, it seemed like the Spurs threw the game purposely. It made no sense why you'd sit Duncan, a rebounding force, in the final seconds of a NBA Finals game. Regardless, after the Ray Allen three pointer, we had the Heat come back to win the game and then they closed it out in game 7 to win the championship. It's a lesson to never think you have a series won until you actually see the game is over. The Spurs learned their lesson. I'd like to say the Warriors learned their lesson as well this year, but I'll get to them in just a second. The Spurs learned their lesson the hard way and that just capped off an epic series that featured a ton of classic moments. I'd rank this as a top 3 or 4 NBA Finals series of all time.

*2015 NBA Finals
Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers

-Some might be surprised about this particular series getting included. Well, it's simple. The Warriors were a force to be reckoned with and the Cavaliers were rolling, even without Kevin Love. Heading into this series, the teams seemed much more evenly matched than expected and I was expecting a possible 7 game series, with the Warriors still prevailing. Kyrie got injured in game 1 and with Kevin Love injured, many made the mistake of crowning the Warriors instantly and some said that they could sweep the Cavs, which they should have. However, Lebron James was not going to go down easy, but the Warriors wouldn't just let the best player in the league power his way to another championship. Lebron had an absolutely amazing Finals series, scoring with reckless abandon, and averaging a triple double, but the reality was that he had very little help outside of a mostly solid bench that was inexperienced. The Warriors were looking to make history and win their first title in 40 years, and after winning game 1, they'd lose games 2 and 3 in very close contests. After that however, the Warriors would control the pace of the series and win games 4, 5, and 6 to win the NBA Title and dash the hopes of Lebron to win a 3rd title. I personally thought however that Steph was the MVP of the series and not Iggy, as he carried them to a game 4 win and a big game 5 win, before providing daggers in game 6 also. However, this would set the stage for an epic rematch the following season, which finishes off the list next.

*2016 NBA Finals
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors

-I'm not a fan of either team, but I was partial to watching the Warriors try and complete history. They are still the greatest regular season team, but they couldn't go back to back like they should have. This is an admittedly controversial series however, and with injuries beginning to plague the Warriors (Steph with multiple injuries, Iggy with horrible back issues, and eventually Bogut out), the path for the Cavs was opening up. In games 1, 2, and 4, a healthy Warriors starting lineup and bench controlled the games and picked up big wins to take a 3-1 series lead. The Draymond Green suspension however turned the tide and the loss of Bogut in a very important game 5 cost the Warriors big time. It seemed like the Warriors had the title locked up, but after blowing games 5 and 6, it seemed almost certain the Cavs would walk away with the title in game 7. They did. The game was neck and neck until Kyrie sealed the deal with a big three. Before that however, it seemed the Warriors had the momentum with a fast break, but Lebron managed to make the block of the century. Game 7 will forever be known for the block and the shot. Cleveland won their first title and Lebron got that elusive 3rd championship in a great drama fueled series that saw the Cavs come back from being down 3-1. Lebron did it for Cleveland.

When talking NBA Finals, I think these are all the greatest Finals series and the best of the best. If you see any that you think are missing, post them below in the comments. Join the conversation.



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