10. Game 7, 1969 — Boston Celtics 108, Los Angeles Lakers 106
The Celtics won their 11th championship in 13 years by defeating the Lakers yet again, but it was not for a lack of effort from Jerry West. The Lakers standout notched a triple-double in Game 7 (42 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists) and became the first Finals MVP from a losing team.
9. Game 7, 1957 — Boston Celtics 125, St. Louis Hawks 123 (Double OT)
The only Game 7 to ever go to double overtime. Tom Heinsohn had 37 points and 23 rebounds to lead Boston to its first of 17 championships.
8. Game 7, 1988 — Los Angeles Lakers 108, Detroit Pistons 106
The Lakers’ second consecutive title capped a frenetic finish to this seven-game series. Los Angeles nearly let a 15-point lead slip away before winning 108-105. James Worthy led the way with his only career triple-double in Game 7 (36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists).
7. Game 7, 1962 — Boston Celtics 110, Los Angeles Lakers 107 (OT)
The Lakers came within inches of ending Boston’s championship reign when Frank Selvy’s shot in the final seconds trickled off the rim. Instead, the game went to overtime, where Boston prevailed with its fourth straight title. Bill Russell tied his own record with 40 rebounds to go along with 30 points.
6. Game 7, 1970 — New York Knicks 113, Los Angeles Lakers 99
Willis Reed gave the Knicks the emotional boost they needed to win their first championship. Against all odds, Reed returned into the starting lineup for Game 7 after missing the previous game with a torn thigh muscle. Even though he wasn’t playing at 100 percent, he drained the first two shots of the game—and the Knicks never looked back.
5. Game 6, 1998 — Chicago Bulls 87, Utah Jazz 86
Michael Jordan’s career with the Bulls appropriately ended in spectacular fashion. With 5.2 seconds remaining, Jordan drove to his right before abruptly stepping back. (Did he push Byron Russell? Probably.) Either way, he nailed the jumper, and the one-point victory gave Chicago its sixth championship in eight seasons.
4. Game 5, 1997 — Chicago Bulls 90, Utah Jazz 88
Three simple words: “The Flu Game.” In the gutsiest performance of his other-worldly career, Michael Jordan put up 38 points while battling both the Jazz and the stomach flu. The 90-88 win gave Chicago a 3-2 series lead after losing the previous two games.
3. Game 6, 2013 — Miami Heat 103, San Antonio Spurs 100 (OT)
Officials had already begun to put yellow rope courtside in preparation of a Spurs trophy presentation, but Ray Allen and the Heat had other plans. Down three points late, Allen drained a three from the right corner with 5.2 seconds left to send it to overtime. The Heat prevailed in OT and won their second consecutive title following Game 7.
2. Game 6, 1980 — Los Angeles Lakers 123, Philadelphia 76ers 107
Magic Johnson lived up to his nickname—and then some—in the finest game of his storied career. With league MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sidelined, Johnson—then just 20 years old—started at center in Abdul-Jabbar’s place instead of his usual role at point guard. Johnson went on to play all five positions and put up 42 points in the Game 6 series-clinching victory.
1. Game 5, 1976 — Boston Celtics 128, Phoenix Suns 126 (Triple OT)
Some games just can’t be contained in regular time. The sequence to end the second overtime defies belief. There’s an incredible steal, two of the most clutch shots you’ll ever see, and a clock controversy. At one point, fans rush the court. One attacks the referee. It would take a third overtime for the Celtics to come out on top; they won the series one game later.