Every year there is a play that catches your eye. You want to watch it on YouTube over and over again because it was just so cool the first, second, or tenth time. It’s been that way even before social media because the NBA game is always offering a spectacular moment that sticks around in our minds for years.
In the last 30 years, we have seen some special moments. Those moments have been watched on repeat and generated a plethora of views. From Michael Jordan game-winners to Kobe Bryant’s offensive genius, these are the most viewed NBA moments from the last 30 years.
Michael Jordan Closes Eyes On Free Throws - 7 Million (1991)
There was always a friendly rivalry between Dikembe Mutombo and Michael Jordan. After some friendly banter back and forth, Jordan told Mutombo he would make his free throws with his eyes closed. He concluded the impressive feat with a “this one’s for you, baby.”
Michael Jordan’s Shrug Game - 4 Million (1992)
Jordan torched the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA Finals by scoring six three-point shots in the first half. The infamous shrug happened on June 3rd, 1992 in the first game of the series. Jordan set a record for points in the first half by scoring 35, which led to his shrug. After all, there was nothing the Trail Blazers could do to stop him from scoring.
Michael Jordan Blocks Shaq - 11 Million (1993)
It was the first-ever meeting between Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal. A young, budding star in Shaq was playing for the Orlando Magic, while Jordan was still shining for the Bulls. As Shaq went up for what he thought would be an easy dunk, it was Jordan that swatted the ball away, leaving the seven-footer in awe.
Scottie Pippen Dunks On Patrick Ewing - 4.5 Million (1994)
It was a fast-break in transition that not even Patrick Ewing saw coming. Pippen was the recipient of the third pass and he was ready to throw the hammer down. It didn’t matter that Ewing was in the way because Pippen crushed home a powerful dunk that sent Ewing to the ground. It didn’t help that Pippen walked over Ewing while he was lying on his back.
Reggie Miller Scores 8 Points In 9 Seconds - 9.5 Million (1995)
With this type of lead and amount of time, one would expect a win. Instead, Miller stunned the New York Knicks and gave his infamous “choke” symbol towards superfan Spike Lee. After training one three-pointer, Miller picked up a steal off the inbound play, retreated to the three-point line, and drained it. Miller sealed the victory after being fouled and hit two clutch free throws to send Indy home with a win.
Dennis Rodman Holds Shaq To Zero Points - 7.3 Million (1996)
When Shaq came over to the Los Angeles Lakers, it was still the Bulls that were dominating the league. Part of that came from the defense that the team could throw out on any given night. It was Rodman’s first year in a Bulls uniform and the team knew they had a prize in the former Defensive Player of the Year. He showed his skills one night during the regular season by holding “The Diesel” to zero points.
Michael Jordan’s Flu Game - 6.8 Million (1997)
They told Jordan not to eat the pizza, but he did anyway. In Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Jordan had a spiked fever and was visibly sick. Instead of bailing out, he scored 38 points to lead Chicago to a 90-88 win over the Utah Jazz. It has been cited as one of the most legendary performances from an NBA player all-time.
Michael Jordan’s NBA Finals Game Winner - 44 Million (1998)
Only the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers had ever pulled off a three-peat. The “Last Dance” Chicago Bulls joined the club when Jordan’s game-winning jump shot with 5.2 seconds left gave the team an 87-86 lead. After John Stockton missed a three-point shot, the Bulls had won their sixth championship in eight years.
Shaq And Charles Barkley Fight - 10 Million (1999)
In a tense, regular season battle, the two stars of Inside the NBA were duking it out. Barkley had come down from a shot attempt and was fouled. Shaq gave Barkley a shove, which prompted Barkley to throw the ball at Shaq’s head. Shaq threw the first punch before teammates got involved.
Vince Carter’s Alley-Oop - 3.3 Million (2000)
On a fastbreak attempt, the Toronto Raptors were looking to score in transition. Carter took a pass from the three-point line and slammed it down with one hand. The fans got what they wanted in “Vinsanity” in what is one of the most viewed dunks in the sport’s history.
Allen Iverson Steps Over Ty Lue - 4.4 Million (2001)
Iverson led the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals in part to his MVP season. With Los Angeles Lakers guard Ty Lue guarding him, Iverson completed a cross-over move to shoot a deep baseline three-pointer. Iverson hit the shot as Lue fell to the ground. In complete swagger fashion, Iverson stepped over Lue to show his dominance.
Michael Jordan Scores 51 Points At Age 38 - 10.2 Million (2002)
As a member of the Washington Wizards, Jordan’s career was winding down, but even at the age of 38, he still showed he was a dominant player. Jordan scored 24 first-quarter points and finished with 51 points total against the Charlotte Hornets.
Michael Jordan’s Last Game - 7.1 Million (2003)
On April 16, 2003, Jordan played his final game in the NBA. He finished the 107-87 loss to the 76ers with 15 points before hanging up his shoes for good. Despite playing on the road, Jordan received one of the loudest ovations one could ask.
Tracy McGrady Scores 13 Points In 35 Seconds - 17.2 Million (2004)
The San Antonio Spurs led the Houston Rockets 76-68 with under 40 seconds to play. McGrady raced down the floor to connect one three-pointer. On the next possession, he converted a four-point play after knocking down the trey while being fouled. The back-and-forth continued when the Rockets trailed by five, but McGrady landed another three. The best was saved for last when he hit the game-winning three-point dagger to win the game 81-80.
Kobe Bryant’s Left-Handed Three-Pointer - 2.8 Million (2005)
Maybe, this would not be so watched if not for the fact that Kobe Bryant is right-handed. With the shot clock expiring, Bryant retreated to the baseline and had to throw something up. He turned the wrong way and heaved a left-handed three-pointer. Of course, it sailed in because that’s the kind of magic that Bryant displayed every night.
Kobe Bryant’s 81-Point Game - 27.5 Million (2006)
Despite Bryant scoring 81 points, the contest with the Raptors proved to be a close contest throughout the game. Bryant was able to lead the Lakers to a win with the second-most points scored in a single game. Bryant scored 14 points in the first quarter, 12 in the second, 27 in the third, and capped it off with 28 points in the fourth quarter.
Shaq’s Dunk On Mutombo - 6.2 Million (2007)
The two Hall of Fame bigs were toe-to-toe in a tight contest between the Rockets and Heat. Shaq posted up in the paint, took a pass, and went up for a dunk, but missed his first attempt. He grabbed his own rebound and left no doubt on his second attempt by throwing it down with a one-handed jam. O’Neal then gave Mutombo a one-finger wag for his efforts.
Derrick Rose Breaks Andre Miller’s Ankles - 4 Million (2008)
Regulation time was expiring in the second quarter and a Bulls rookie by the name of Derrick Rose looked to make a move. Rose dribbled to the right, but quickly maneuvered to the left and left a defenseless Miller going right as Rose drove into the lane. We were all stunned, but not as much as Miller though.
Dwyane Wade’s Dunk Over Anderson Varejao - 5.3 Million (2009)
When Wade dribbled into the lane, Varejo believed he had a chance to stop him. However, there was nobody that was going to stop him at that moment. Wade took it to the house, cocked back his right arm, and dunked all over Varejo. It sent the Cavaliers big man to the ground and the crowd into a crazy eruption.
Kobe Bryant Doesn’t Flinch - 84 Million (2010)
Matt Barnes thought he was a tough guy, but nobody was going to be tougher than the Black Mamba. As Barnes stood on the baseline ready to inbound the pass, Bryant stood right in front of Barnes as the two shared a few words. Barnes faked the ball, pretending to throw the ball at Bryant’s face. Bryant stood still, motionless, and stared right into his soul. Nobody was going to spook him.
The Three Crazy Dunks From Derrick Rose - 5.2 Million (2011)
The first dunk came in transition from a rebound by Joakim Noah. Rose took the pass, dribbled a few times, and then rose with one hand. The second dunk split a pair of Miami defenders as he flew in with two hands. The best dunk came off a screen from Noah, where he threw down right over a Heat defender, who didn’t stand a chance.
The Linsanity Game-Winner - 9 Million (2012)
Jeremy Lin gave birth to the term Linsanity with this game-winner against the Toronto Raptors. With the game tied 87-all, there were 15 seconds left on the clock. Lin dribbled down the clock and pushed off his teammates to leave him in a one-on-one situation. Lin rose with three seconds left at the top of the key and splashed the game-winning three-point shot.
Ray Allen’s Clutch Three-Pointer - 9.2 Million (2013)
The San Antonio Spurs appeared to have won the NBA championship with a 95-92 lead with under 12 seconds to play and a 3-2 series advantage in the NBA Finals. However, the Miami Heat signed Ray Allen for a reason. With time close to expiring, LeBron James fired a three but missed as Chris Bosh corralled the rebound. Bosh fired to Allen, who hit the tying basket with 5.2 seconds left. Eventually, the Heat won Game 6 and Game 7 to clinch the championship.
Kobe Gives Steph Curry Respect - 17 Million (2014)
The Warriors were leading 78-49 over the Lakers midway through the third quarter. As Curry dribbled the ball down, Bryant was playing close defense. Curry was able to shake Bryant off and connect a deep three-pointer. Bryant then ran down Curry, slapped him on the butt, and gave him some respect for his playmaking.
Klay Thompson Scores 37 In The Third Quarter - 15 Million (2015)
A close 60-60 ball game turned into a Warriors blowout win over the Kings by the end of the game thanks to brother No. 2 of the Splash Bros. Thompson couldn’t miss a shot. His 37 points in a quarter broke an NBA record.
Game 7 Of 2016 The NBA Finals - 44 Million (2016)
The 73-win Warriors were a juggernaut in the regular season and were looking to win their second straight NBA championship. With two minutes left in the game, the Warriors and Cavaliers were tied 89-89. The final two minutes saw a clutch three-pointer from Kyrie Irving and a game-saving block by LeBron James to give Cleveland its first-ever championship.
Kevin Durant Returns To OKC - 12 Million (2017)
Many forget in 2016 that the Thunder held a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals, but lost three straight to the Warriors. It was the final game that Steph Curry recruited Kevin Durant to Golden State to join a team that won 73 games the year before. Needless to say, Durant was met with a vicious fury of boos in his first game played in OKC.
JR Smith’s Mistake - 8 Million (2018)
It was Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Warriors and Cavaliers and the score was deadlocked at 107-107 with 4.7 seconds on the clock. George Hill was at the line to shoot one more free throw. Hill missed, but Smith grabbed the rebound; however, he raced to halfcourt despite LeBron James telling him to shoot the ball. The game went to overtime, LeBron was frustrated, and the Cavaliers lost Game 1.
Kawhi Leonard’s Game Winner - 14.2 Million (2019)
In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers, Kawhi Leonard hit a contested baseline jumper over Joel Embiid that bounced on the rim four times before falling in. It was the first time that a Game 7 was decided by a buzzer-beater and the second shot in NBA history to end a do-or-die game in a series.
The Final Minutes Of The All-Star Game - 13 Million (2020)
With the new rules to the All-Star Game, the game would end when with a target score. This score was 157 points. Team LeBron (156) held a narrow lead on Team Giannis (155). Anthony Davis was fouled and needed to hit just one free throw at the line to end it. Davis clinched the game after a flurry of attempts from both sides to end the contest that kept all the fans on the edge of their seats.
Steph Curry’s 62-Point Game - 6 Million (2021)
In a way, this was Curry’s response to the critics. For those saying that Curry was going to slow down, he silenced everyone by scoring 62 points in 36 minutes in a 137-122 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Curry told the media that he liked being talked about, so clearly he had some extra motivation to prove everyone wrong once again.
Credit for an idea: CoshReport