Well I thought I would take a small break from writing about the Bulls at look at the NBA in general. I was reading an article on the greatest playoff performances in the history of the NBA and I started to wonder what the best single game ever played by a player was. This would include playoffs, regular season, and finals games. I came up with seven games that stood out to me and I am sure I have missed some other really good ones as well. So, please reply and let me know what you think and also what other great single game performances you think stand the test of time. So let us take a look.
Kobe Bryant scores 81. I started with the most recent game in history and one that sould be fresh in all our minds. The were playing the Raptors back in 2006 when Kobe decided he would go off big time. He single handedly crushed the Raptors in this regular season game. Kobe even sat out part of the fourth quarter. Had he stayed in he could have closed in on the record. What makes this performance stand out to me is the fact that Kobe scored so many points against a solid club in the modern era and that he is a shooting guard. Most of the single game scoring records are held by bigmen making what Kobe did even more special.
Isiah Thomas vs the Lakers 1988. It was game 6 of the 1988 NBA finals and the Pistons were up against the Magic Johnson led Lakers when Isiah proved why many believed him to be one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. Despite a late game injury Thomas would drive his team from a third quarter deficit to victory and force a game seven. Thomas would score a NBA record 25 points in the third quarter and finished the game with 43 points, 8 assists, and 6 steals.
Wilt makes history with 100 points. Just typing that gives me the chills. It was back in 1962 when Chamberlain would face the New York Knicks and put on the greatest offensive assaults ever. An even 100 points. Perhaps the greatest record in the NBA today. Not 99 or 101 points but a blood cooling 100 points. Another interesting thing to me was the final score of 169 to 147. That is crazy. 316 points scored in one game. I am not sure we will see a game like that again in the modern era.
Elgin Baylor vs the Celtics. This is just an insane performance by Baylor. In an all important game 5 were the series was tied Elgin took over on both ends and pushed the Lakers past the Celtics and to a 3-2 series lead. Baylor scored an amazing 61 points while controlling the paint with 22 rebounds. That is 22 points for a 6'5" shooting guard in a finals game against the Celtics who had perhaps the greatest rebounder in NBA history in Bill Russell is the most outstanding part of this performance to me.
Michael Jordan vs the Celtics. This is the game in which MJ became MJ and the very moment that the whole world took notice of his Airness. Sure Jordan was a household name by this point but this game made him an icon and had Larry Bird calling him "God dressed as Michael Jordan". Sure the Bulls lost the game, but it was against arguably the greatest team in NBA history. Jordan would try to carry the Bulls by dropping 63 points against a defensive juggernaut of a team in the Boston Celtics.
Reggie Miller kills the Knicks. This might be the greatest last 10 seconds for any player in a NBA playoff game ever. The score was 105 to 99 with about 16 seconds on the clock. With 8.9 seconds Miller would hit a 3 then steal the inbound pass an quickly hit another 3. Game tied in seconds. Starks then get fouled and misses both shots and then it is again Reggie to the rescue with a 2 point jumper to rip the hearts out of the Knicks. The crowd is silent.
Bill Russell in game 7. Earlier we looked at Elgin Baylor and his great effort in game 5 of the 1962 finals. Well in game 7 Bill Russell showed the world that he was a monster. Russell would go on to dominate on both ends of the floor by scoring 30 points and pulling down an unbelievable 40 rebounds. This is the stuff of legends if you ask me. A giant lurking in the paint and forcing his will. The Celtics would win the game and therefore the finals.
Well, those are my 7 games. There are a few I thought about putting on the list like MJ's flu game, Shaq vs the 76ers in the finals, and Magic's performance in game 6 of the 1980 finals, but I ended up picking these seven. So what performances did I miss?