Michael Jordan is mainly regarded as the greatest player of all time, and also one of the most clutch performers in team sports. The legendary Bulls guard was adept at creating his own shot whenever he wanted and normally came through in the clutch when his team needed him most. In fact, MJ is known as the greatest champion in NBA history because he never played in a Game 7 in the NBA Finals.
The man most closely resembling the Bulls guard has been Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers guard that won 5 NBA titles. Like Jordan, Bryant was adept at creating his own offense and had one of the most unstoppable fadeaway jumpers in NBA history. The Lakers superstar was also regarded as one of the most clutch players ever. Finally, LeBron James has recently entered the GOAT debate after he won two championships with the Cavaliers and Lakers as he gets closer to breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record. Not to mention, James has had some spectacular Game 7 performances.
Out of these three superstars, which one had the greatest career in Game 7’s in the playoffs? It is time to deduce the playoff statistics of all three players in their Game 7 performances, taking into account every Game 7 performance they played in over their Hall of Fame careers.
Game 7 Average Stats: 22.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.3 BPG
List of Game 7’s (Total 6 Games):
2000 Western Conference Finals: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers 4-3
Game 7 Result: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers 89-84
Kobe Bryant Stats: 25 Points, 11 Rebounds, 7 Assists, 0 Steals, 4 Blocks
Kobe’s first Game 7 performance was a testament to the young shooting guard’s potential greatness. The shooting guard had a dominant Shaquille O’Neal in the paint but still needed to drop 25 points and 11 rebounds to get by a rampant Portland Trail Blazers team.
The game was tight throughout, and Rasheed Wallace was on fire by dropping 30 points on 50.0% shooting from the field. With Shaq attempting only 9 shots and scoring 18 points, Bryant needed to bring the game home and he certainly did with an MVP-caliber performance.
2002 Western Conference Finals: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings 4-3
Game 7 Result: Los Angeles Lakers @ Sacramento Kings 112-106
Kobe Bryant Stats: 30 Points, 10 Rebounds, 7 Assists, 2 Steals, 0 Blocks
In his second career Game 7 performance in the postseason, Bryant was forced to perform at a superstar level to guide the Lakers past a Sacramento Kings squad that had them on the ropes. As with the case two years prior, the Kings and Lakers Game 7 game came down to the wire.
Mike Bibby dropped 29 points and Webber put up a 20-point double-double, but the Kings were unable to get past a clutch Shaq and Kobe pairing. Kobe dropped 30 in yet another closeout performance in his young career for the Lakers.
2006 Western Conference First Round: Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers 4-3
Game 7 Result: Los Angeles Lakers @ Phoenix Suns 90-121
Kobe Bryant Stats: 24 Points, 4 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 0 Steals, 1 Block
Bryant went ballistic in 2006 by scoring 81 points in a regular-season game and averaging 35.4 PPG through the year. Kobe’s game-winner in Game 4 against the Phoenix Suns is one of the greatest buzzer-beaters ever because the Lakers came close to usurping a much better Suns team in the postseason.
The Suns came back in the series and took the Lakers to a Game 7, eventually winning the game with Bryant failing to bring the team home. Kobe dropped 23 points in the first half, and shockingly only ended up with 24 by the end of the game. Clearly frustrated by his putrid teammates, Kobe probably wanted to prove a point.
2009 Western Conference Semifinals: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets 4-3
Game 7 Result: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets 89-70
Kobe Bryant Stats: 14 Points, 7 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 3 Steals, 2 Blocks
The Houston Rockets were not supposed to take the Lakers to 7 games in the second round, but they accomplished that. They lost Yao Ming after 3 games, and still somehow almost shocked the Lakers in what could have been an iconic upset.
Kobe did not have a very impressive Game 7, dropping 14 points on 4-12 shooting. It was obvious the Lakers were a superior team and Bryant knew he did not have to take over at all, allowing Pau Gasol (21 points, 18 rebounds) and Andrew Bynum (14 points, 6 rebounds) to finish off the series.
2010 NBA Finals: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics 4-3
Game 7 Result: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics 83-79
Kobe Bryant Stats: 23 Points, 15 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Steal, 0 Blocks
Kobe Bryant almost blew this Game 7 and the chance to win his 5th championship. Against a defensive-minded Boston Celtics squad led by the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen; Bryant shot a putrid 6-24 from the field.
In a tightly contested game that was plain ugly to watch, Bryant did enough in the end by grabbing 15 big rebounds and nailing 11-15 free throws. Somehow, Kobe did lead all scorers with his 23 points. It took a big shot from Ron Artest and a big game from Pau Gasol for the Lakers to sneak by Boston.
2012 Western Conference First Round: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets 4-3
Game 7 Result: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets 96-87
Kobe Bryant Stats: 17 Points, 1 Rebound, 8 Assists, 0 Steals, 1 Block
The Los Angeles Lakers were not going to win a championship in 2012, because the core of the team was getting older and slower. Still, the Lakers found themselves in a long series against Ty Lawson and the Denver Nuggets in the first round.
Even if the Lakers were not a great team compared to years past, they should have defeated Denver and it took them 7 games to do it. Kobe was unspectacular at age 33, dropping 17 points on 43.8% shooting and chipping in a game-high 8 assists.
Kobe Bryant’s Game 7’s split opinion, because his stats look average for a superstar of his caliber. But the shooting guard did go 5-1 in those games, showcasing his ability to read games with their situations and adapt accordingly. Bryant had some iconic Game 7 performances in his younger days alongside Shaquille O’Neal, proving he is a clutch player. The Game 7’s in his later years looked pedestrian paper, but he still won them which is a testament to his impact.
Game 7 Average Stats: 33.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG
List of Game 7’s (Total 3 Games):
1990 Eastern Conference Finals: Detroit Pistons vs. Chicago Bulls 4-3
Game 7 Result: Chicago Bulls @ Detroit Pistons 74-93
Michael Jordan Stats: 31 Points, 8 Rebounds, 9 Assists, 1 Steal, 0 Blocks
Jordan’s first Game 7 experience came in the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals, where he was one win away from making his first Finals appearance with a 24-year-old Scottie Pippen as his best player. With Pippen not yet a superstar player, Jordan’s excellent production would not be enough.
Michael almost dropped a triple-double, but Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas had too much strength and experience on their side. As a result, Jordan’s first Game 7 ended in a disappointing fashion as the Detroit Pistons were once again in the way of the Bulls’ star’s greatness.
1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks 4-3
Game 7 Result: Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks 110-81
Michael Jordan Stats: 42 Points, 6 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 2 Steals, 3 Blocks
Michael Jordan would begin dominating the league in 1991, capturing his first NBA title after proving he can get past the Bad Boy Pistons. In his second championship run, Jordan would first need to get past the New York Knicks led by superstar Patrick Ewing. By posting 42 points on 51.7% shooting, he did just that.
Ewing was a force in the paint by posting 21.1 PPG and 11.1 RPG throughout the series, but Jordan did enough to take control of Game 7 in a 110-81 blowout victory for the Bulls. Scottie Pippen chipped in a triple-double, and the Bulls would go on to progress to the Eastern Conference Finals and eventually win the championship.
1998 Eastern Conference Finals: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers 4-3
Game 7 Result: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers 88-83
Michael Jordan Stats: 28 Points, 9 Rebounds, 8 Assists, 0 Steals, 0 Blocks
Michel Jordan’s third and final Game 7 appearance in the playoffs also coincided with the Bulls’ superstar’s final championship season. Jordan and company were aware of “The Last Dance”, and made sure that nothing came in their way during the 3-peat. Against Reggie Miller and the Pacers, a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals was needed.
Jordan dropped a near triple-double on only 38.0% shooting from the field, overcoming a 22-point performance from Miller. In a close game that was scrappy and defensively sound, The Bulls ended up with a 88-83 victory.
Michael Jordan’s career stats in Game 7 are clearly impressive, as he put up over 30 PPG (as expected) and had solid all-around numbers as well. Without Jordan performing at a superstar level, the Bulls would not have had a shot in the two Game 7 performances they competed in. The Knicks and Pacers were two fantastic teams on both ends of the floor, and Michael leading all scorers in the game was the main reason the Bulls won. It is also an interesting fact that every time Jordan led his team to victory in a Game 7, he won a championship.
Game 7 Average Stats: 34.9 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.9 BPG
List of Game 7’s (Total 8 Games)
2006 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Detroit Pistons vs. Cleveland Cavaliers 4-3
Game 7 Result: Cleveland Cavaliers @ Detroit Pistons 61-79
LeBron James Stats: 27 Points, 8 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Steal, 0 Blocks
LeBron’s first Game 7 came against the former NBA champion Detroit Pistons team that was far more talented than the Cavaliers. James was spectacular in his first Game 7 performance, dropping 27 points and 8 rebounds at the tender age of 21 years old.
The Pistons managed to slow down James enough, countering his high-scoring performance with 4 guys scoring in double-digits. LeBron’s dominance in his Game 7, despite losing, was a sign for things to come later in his Hall of Fame career.
2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers 4-3
Game 7 Result: Cleveland Cavaliers @ Boston Celtics 92-97
LeBron James Stats: 45 Points, 5 Rebounds, 6 Assists, 2 Steals, 0 Blocks
Once again, LeBron James found himself in a losing effort in a Game 7. Against the superteam Boston Celtics led by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen; James mustered up a monster 45 points on an efficient 48.3% shooting clip.
But Pierce dropped 41 points of his own, going toe-to-toe with The King in one of the most exciting playoff matchups in recent history. Pierce had a bit more help with Garnett dropping 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Boston ended up winning the game 97-92 and progressing to the Eastern Conference Finals.
2012 Eastern Conference Finals: Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics 4-3
Game 7 Result: Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics 101-88
LeBron James Stats: 31 Points, 12 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Steal, 1 Block
LeBron James would get his revenge on the Boston Celtics a few years later once he had a superteam of his own alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Miami were more talented and younger than the aging Celtics, defeating them in 7 games.
James dropped a monster 31 points and 12 rebounds, overcoming Rajon Rondo’s triple-double to secure his second straight trip to the Finals. Finally, James started looking like a superstar that was ready to win and put aside any concerns about his playoff failure from a year prior.
2013 Eastern Conference Finals: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers 4-3
Game 7 Result: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers 99-76
LeBron James Stats: 32 Points, 8 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 2 Steals, 1 Block
On the path to LeBron’s second championship, he had to get through two teams in two Game 7 performances to reach the Finals. The first came against the Indiana Pacers in 2013, as the Heat won in 7 games.
Game 7 ended in a blowout, with the Heat winning 99-76. James owned everyone in the game, dropping 32 points on 47.1% shooting from the field while chipping in 8 rebounds as well. The King had some help with Wade dropping 21 points as well, and the Pacers had no shot. Progressing to the NBA Finals, LeBron needed another virtuoso performance.
2013 NBA Finals: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs 4-3
Game 7 Result: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs 95-88
LeBron James Stats: 37 Points, 12 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 2 Steals, 0 Blocks
In the 2013 NBA Finals, the Heat and Spurs went toe-to-toe for most of the game. It took a couple of clutch moments and a couple of blunders from the Spurs’ side before the Heat ended up winning their second-straight championship.
LeBron dropped a game-high 37 points while punishing the Spurs who forced him to shoot jumpers all game long. There were doubts about The King’s ability to make his jumpers, but he proved to be a clutch performer to solidify himself as the game’s most dominant player with his second title.
2016 NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors 4-3
Game 7 Result: Cleveland Cavaliers @ Golden State Warriors 93-89
LeBron James Stats: 27 Points, 11 Rebounds, 11 Assists, 2 Steals, 3 Blocks
By far LeBron James’ greatest achievement, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 after trailing the series 1-3. James had some iconic moments in the game including “The Block” against Andre Iguodala, and also shared the spotlight with Kyrie Irving who nailed the game-winner.
James dropped a spectacular triple-double in his best Game 7 ever, overcoming Draymond Green’s 32 points, 15 rebounds, and 9 assists. The King had plenty of help in Kyrie Irving (26 points) and Draymond did not get enough from Stephen Cury who only scored 17 points on 31.6% shooting.
2018 Eastern Conference First Round: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers 4-3
Game 7 Result: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers 105-101
LeBron James Stats: 45 Points, 8 Rebounds, 7 Assists, 4 Steals, 0 Blocks
The 2018 season was a difficult one for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers because they could not get past the Golden State Warriors in the Finals. But the path to the Finals was not east either, although James came out victorious in both Game 7 appearances in the playoffs.
The first Game 7 in 2018 came against Victor Oladipo and the Pacers in the first round, with the Cavaliers winning 105-101. Oladipo was spectacular with 30 points, but James dropped 45 points and was able to outdo what the Pacers’ talented guard did on the court.
2018 Eastern Conference Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics 4-3
Game 7 Result: Cleveland Cavaliers @ Boston Celtics 87-79
LeBron James Stats: 35 Points, 15 Rebounds, 9 Assists, 0 Steals, 2 Blocks
The second Game 7 for LeBron came up against a familiar nemesis in the Boston Celtics, although the opponent had different names on the roster in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Al Horford. The King did enough in the end, putting up a near triple-double in a magical performance.
James dropped 35 points on 50.0% shooting from the field while also leading all players in rebounds. The Celtics had a ton of talented young players, but there was no way a veteran like James would ever falter in the Eastern Conference Finals.
LeBron James’ statistics in Game 7’s are extraordinary, as he might be the best stat-sheet stuffer in NBA history. The King also went 6-2 in 8 games, proving that he often performed at his best with his back against the wall. LeBron also seemed to play the best when he had nothing to lose, putting up iconic performances in the process.
The King’s incredible Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors in 2016 capped off the greatest Finals comeback ever and has to be his best moment in a Cavaliers shirt. Out of all the great Game 7’s that LeBron played in, that has to also be his best ever.
Who Has The Best Performances In Game 7?
LeBron James has the best individual statistics, posting incredible averages of 34.9 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.9 BPG in 8 games. James also went 6-2, showcasing that The King was always at his best with his back against the wall. For years, that has become the norm of what to expect from James, because a closeout game has always motivated him most.
Michael Jordan had a terrific record in Game 7’s, winning 2 out of 3 games and putting up incredible numbers at 33.7 PPG. Jordan was always known as the superstar who never played a Game 7 in the NBA Finals, basically destroying his opponents en route to 6 NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls. In only 3 Game 7’s, Jordan lost one.
Kobe Bryant had the least impressive statistics in Game 7’s, but he has the most impressive record at 5-1 in Game 7’s. Bryant seemed to compete in multiple Game 7’s over his playoff career, often coming out on top with the help of big men such as Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol. Bryant’s impact cannot be analyzed with his statistics, because he often came out on top.
As a result, James might have the most impressive resume in Game 7’s due to his statistics and 6-2 record although Jordan might have an argument for only playing in two Game 7’s yet still holding the most championships with 6. Bryant has the best Game 7 record, but his stats are not comparable to Jordan and LeBron’s. Therefore, LeBron or Jordan has the best argument for having the most success in Game 7’s.