There have been 15 Finals Game 7s, Thursday we'll get No. 16
Where Legends Are Born: Game 7
Men who could barely walk have played on torn thigh muscles. Players take on defensive assignments against players six-inches taller than themselves. One player-coach even inserted himself into the game for the first time all series to run a special play he just drew up. (And it almost worked, too!)
Of the 15 Game 7s in NBA Finals history, only three teams have won on the road. Will Detroit be the fourth and defend their title? Or will the Spurs win their third title in seven years?
Make no mistake, Game 7 is Where Legends Are Born. One man played in five Game 7s in the Finals and never lost. One man played in four Finals Game 7s before winning in his fifth try. The great ones rise to the ocassion. Who will step up Thursday night (9 ET, ABC)?
1994 NBA Finals | Houston 90, New York 84
1988 NBA Finals | L.A. Lakers 108, Detroit 105
In what some consider to be one of the best Finals series ever, the Celtics outlasted the Lakers in a seven-game war of attrition. Boston's nine-point win in Game 7 marked the fourth time in Finals history that the Celtics downed the Lakers in a Game 7.
Just to get to Boston Garden, the Lakers needed a police escort. Larry Bird earned his first Finals MVP award, but Cedric Maxwell provided the energy and pluck in Game 7 with 24 points, eight boards and eight dimes. And when the Lakers got within three with just over a minute to play, he stripped Magic Johnson of the ball twice and Boston's 15th title was secure.
The Bullets’ Big Two of Wes Unseld (15 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists) and Elvin Hayes (12 points and 8 rebounds) lead the way in Game 7 win at Seattle. The Bullets became just the third team in Finals history to win a Game 7 on the road.
For the Bullets, the win climaxed an emotional playoff run tinged by tragic death of public relations director Marc Splaver and by head coach Dick Motta’s assertion that “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings,” which was originally an on-air proclamation made by San Antonio sportscaster Dan Cook during the Eastern Conference Finals against the Spurs in which Washington rallied from a 3-1 series deficit. The Bullets had no champagne in their locker room following the Game 7 title win, so a quick trip to a local supermarket produced post-game Heinekens used for on-camera dousings.
1974 NBA Finals | Boston 102 at Milwaukee 87
1970 NBA Finals | New York 113, Los Angeles 99
"And here comes Willis," broadcaster Marv Albert intoned as Madison Square Garden erupted in thunderous cheers.
After Willis hit New York's first two baskets, the Knicks had all the inspiration they needed, and Walt Frazier took it from there. "Clyde" went for 36 points, 19 assists, seven rebounds and five steals as the Knicks won their first-ever NBA championship in a 113-99 blowout.
1969 NBA Finals | Boston 108 at Los Angeles 107
The Celtics were watching a 17-point fourth-quarter lead slip away against the heavily-favored Lakers at the Forum. With the lead cut to 103-102 in the final minutes, the ball was knocked away from John Havlicek, into the hands of Don Nelson at the free-throw line. Nellie put up a shot that hit the back of the rim and got the ultimate shooter's bounce: the ball fell straight down and straight through the net.
Boston held on to win 108-106 as Bill Russell retired with the most improbable of his 11 titles. The ballons stayed in the Forum rafters. Cooke later donated them to a children’s hospital.
1966 NBA Finals | Boston 95, Los Angeles 93
Series over, right? Wrong, the Lakers won the next two to force a Game 7 in Boston. The Lakers, who had never beaten the Celtics in three previous Finals series, would go to 0-4 as Boston won the last of its record eight consecutive titles with a 95-93 victory in Red Auerbach's final game as a coach.
1962 NBA Finals | Boston 110, Los Angeles 107 (OT)
1960 NBA Finals | Boston 122, St. Louis 103
In the most incredible seventh game in NBA Finals history. It was the only one to go to double overtime, and there was a chance that it could have gone to triple-OT. Here's how it went down (or didn't in St. Louis' case).
With only one chance to tie, the Hawks had to take the ball inbounds with a full-court pass to Pettit. Player-coach Alex Hannum, the last eligible player on the Hawks' bench, entered the competition for the first time in the series. He planned to bounce the pass off the backboard in the hope that Pettit could tip it in. Incredibly, Hannum banked the pass off the board to Pettit, but the final shot rolled off the rim as time ran out.
Boston rookies Bill Russell and Tom Heinsohn combined for 55 points and 56 rebounds as the Celtics won their first title.
After making a free throw to give Syracuse a 92-91 lead over Fort Wayne, the Nationals' George King chased down the Pistons' Andy Phillip and made a steal to secure Game 7 in dramatic fashion. Bedlam ensued as Syracuse fans streamed the floor to celebrate the Nats' only championship before the franchise moved to Philadelphia to become the 76ers.
1954 NBA Finals | Minneapolis 87, Syracuse 80
It proved to be the end of the Lakers' glory days, at least in Minneapolis. Mikan surprised the NBA after the season by abruptly announcing his retirement. Before reaching age 30, he had mastered the pro game of his time, winning seven championships in eight years (including two NBL titles in the 1940s).
1952 NBA Finals | Minneapolis 82, New York 65
It seemed every year, a sportsmen show overtook the Minneapolis Auditorium around the time the NBA Finals rolled around. And for the first three "home" games, the Lakers played in St. Paul.
But the seventh game was back at the Auditorium and the Lakers found their groove back in Minneapolis. The Lakers led by 12 points after three quarters and won 82-65, giving their quiet coach John Kundla another championship -- and the Knicks their second straight loss in a Finals Game 7.
1951 NBA Finals | Rochester 79, New York 75
But the Knicks had other ideas. They won the next three games to force a Game 7 in Rochester. The Royals avoided the indignity of becoming the only team in NBA history to blow a three-game series lead as they escaped with 79-75 win for the title.
To this day, the Knicks are the only team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after going down 3-0.
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