This Date in the NBA: May
Take a day-by-day look back at iconic NBA moments, milestones and more from the month of May.
From NBA.com Staff
Key dates in NBA history:
May 1, 1963
J. Walter Kennedy was named the NBA’s second President, succeeding Maurice Podoloff. The job title was later changed to Commissioner.
May 1, 1970
The Los Angeles Lakers outscored New York 22-16 in the highest scoring overtime in NBA Playoff history, defeating the Knicks 121-115 in Game 4 of the Finals.
May 1, 1980
Dallas is granted an expansion franchise, and the Mavericks bring the total number of NBA teams to 23.
May 1, 1988
Michael Jordan of Chicago became the first player to score 50 or more points in consecutive playoff games when he drilled Cleveland for 55 points in Chicago’s 106-101 victory in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first round series. In Game 1 on April 28, Jordan scored 50 points in Chicago’s 104-93 victory.
May 1, 1999
NBA referee Tommy Nunez, a 27-year veteran referee in the NBA, is presented with The Gold Whistle Award during halftime of the Phoenix Suns home game against the Vancouver Grizzlies. The award is presented annually to an official recognized for community involvement, achievement in officiating and a reputation of strong integrity and ethics.
May 1, 2001
Harold “Happy” Hairston, a key member of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1972 NBA championship team that posted a 69-13 record and an 11-year NBA veteran, died in Los Angeles at age 58.
May 2, 2017
Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics scores 53 points in a 129-119 playoff win over the Washington Wizards.
May 2, 1968
Bill Russell won his first NBA title as player-coach of the Celtics when Boston defeated the host Los Angeles Lakers 124-109 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
May 2, 2005
The NBA fines Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy $100,000 — the largest amount ever for a coach — a day after accusing officials of targeting center Yao Ming during the Playoffs.
May 3, 1968
It is announced that the St. Louis Hawks would move to Atlanta for the 1968-69 season, under the guidance of new owners Tom Cousins and former Georgia Governor Carl Sanders.
May 3, 1974
“Pistol” Pete Maravich was obtained by the expansion New Orleans Jazz from Atlanta in exchange for first-round draft picks in 1974 and 1975, second-round picks in 1975 and 1976, and the Jazz’ second and third selections in the expansion draft.
May 3, 1981
The Boston Celtics wiped out a double-digit deficit in the second half for the third straight time and defeated Philadelphia 91-90 in Game 7 of a memorable Eastern Conference Finals series.
May 3, 1987
Milwaukee beat Philadelphia 102-89 in the deciding Game 5 of their Eastern Conference First Round series, the last game of Julius Erving’s illustrious 16-year professional basketball career in the NBA and ABA. Dr. J led the Sixers with 24 points.
May 3, 1994
Golden State’s Chris Webber, who became the first rookie in NBA history to total over 1,000 points (1,333), 500 rebounds (694), 250 assists (272), 150 blocks (164) and 75 steals (93), was named the NBA Rookie of the Year.
May 3, 2005
Bryant Jackson, the “Chair Throwing Fan” from the Detroit Pistons – Indiana Pacers altercation, is sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to consult with an anger-management therapist.
May 3, 2011
Rising Chicago Bulls superstar Derek Rose wins the regular season MVP award at the age of 22 years old. He becomes the youngest player in history to receive the award after collecting 113 out of 120 possible first-place votes.
May 3, 2021
Wizards guard Russell Westbrook registers 21 rebounds and 21 points in a 154-141 win against the Indiana Pacers. In doing so, he joins Wilt Chamberlain and himself (in 2019) as the only players in NBA history to collect more than 20 rebounds and 20 assists in the same game.
May 3, 2021
Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony nails a jumper against the Atlanta Hawks to give him 27,314 career points and become the No. 10 all-time scorer in NBA history. Anthony passed Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes, who previously held the mark with 27,313 points.
May 4, 1968
The Pittsburgh Pipers won the first ABA title with a 122-113 win over New Orleans.
May 4, 1970
The New York Knicks, with Dave DeBusschere forced to play center against Wilt Chamberlain after a leg injury sidelined Willis Reed, nevertheless defeated Los Angeles 107-100 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Knicks ultimately captured their first NBA title with a Game 7 victory.
May 4, 1994
Charles Barkley of Phoenix hit 23-of-31 field goal attempts and finished with 56 points, leading the visiting Suns to a 140-133 win over Golden State and a three-game sweep of their Western Conference First Round series. Barkley’s 56 points tied for the third-highest total ever in an NBA Playoff game, and his 38 points in the first half set a record. Sleepy Floyd holds the second-half scoring record in the NBA Playoffs with 39 points, which he scored in Golden State’s 129-121 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 of the 1987 Western Conference Semifinals.
May 4, 2015
Warriors guard Stephen Curry is named NBA MVP after making a then league-record 286 3-pointers while leading Golden State to a record 67 wins. He became the first Warriors player to win MVP honors since Wilt Chamberlain in 1959-60 when the franchise played in Philadelphia.
May 5, 1969
Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Sam Jones, two of Boston’s all-time greats, ended their Celtic careers with a 108-106 Game 7 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, giving Boston its 11th NBA championship in 13 years.
May 5, 1981
Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, anticipating that his jumper from the right of the key during Game 1 of the 1981 NBA Finals against Houston was going to be off target, raced to the right baseline, grabbed the rebound with his right hand, switched the ball into his left hand as his momentum was taking him out of bounds and somehow laid it in the basket. Red Auerbach called it the greatest play he had ever seen, both for Bird’s physical ability to make the shot and his basketball instinct to get into position for the rebound. The Celtics won the game 98-95, and went on to take the series in six games.
May 5, 1986
NBA legends Rick Barry, Walt Frazier and Pete Maravich were among five men inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
May 5, 1995
Clyde Drexler scored a game-high 41 points and Hakeem Olajuwon added 40 to lead Houston to a 123-106 win over visiting Utah in Game 4 of their Western Conference First Round series. It marked the third time in NBA Playoff history that a pair of teammates had scored 40 or more points in the same game.
May 5, 1998
Atlanta’s Dikembe Mutombo is named the winner of the 1997-98 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, becoming the first player in NBA history to win the award three times.
May 5, 2000
Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach Bill Musselman died in the morning from complications from amyloidosis, a disease affecting the liver. He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. A moment of silence was observed at the Rose Garden on Sunday, May 7 before the Trail Blazers’ 94-75 victory over Utah in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series. The 59-year-old Musselman, a former NBA head coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves, was in his third season with the Blazers.
May 5, 2010
The Phoenix Suns make national headlines when they don jerseys emblazoned with “Los Suns.” They are worn “to celebrate diversity on Cinco de Mayo,” according to team owner Robert Sarver, but also to protest a controversial immigration law that had been recently signed by Arizona’s governor. Los Suns beat the San Antonio Spurs, 110-102 in a conference semi-final contest.
May 5, 2012
The Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Dallas Mavericks 103-97 in the Western Conference first round for a 4-0 series win.
May 6, 1970
The Los Angeles Lakers converted 57 of 94 field goal attempts in a 135-113 Game 6 victory over New York in the NBA Finals. The Lakers’ field goal percentage of .606 set a record for an NBA Finals game that would last 15 years, and their 44 assists set an NBA record that stood for 17 years until it was tied by the 1987 Los Angeles Lakers.
May 6, 1985
NBA legends Billy Cunningham, Tom Heinsohn and Red Holzman were among six men inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
May 6, 1993
Shaquille O’Neal of Orlando is named the NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 23.4 points (eighth in the NBA), 13.9 rebounds (second) and 3.53 blocks per game (second), leading the Magic (41-41) to an improvement of 20 wins over the previous season.
May 6, 1996
The Seattle SuperSonics (20) and Houston Rockets (13) combine for 33 three-point field goals made in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal series, a 105-101 Seattle win. The 33 three-pointers made is the most ever in an NBA playoff game.
May 6, 1996
Former NBA stars George Gervin, David Thompson, Gail Goodrich and George Yardley are four of the six individuals inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The other two inductees are Kresimir Cosic and Nancy Lieberman-Cline.
May 6, 1997
Robert Horry of the Los Angeles Lakers sets an NBA playoff record by making all seven of his 3-point field goal attempts in the Lakers’ 103-101 loss to the Utah Jazz in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
May 6, 1998
Michael Jordan becomes the first player in history to be selected to the NBA All-Defensive First Team nine times when the NBA announced the 1997-98 NBA All-Defensive First and Second Teams.
May 6, 1998
Former Syracuse Nationals’ star Paul Seymour died after a long battle with heart disease at the age of 70.
May 6, 2000
Indiana Pacers Reggie Miller and Jalen Rose each notched 40 points in the Pacers’ 108-91 triumph over Philadelphia in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Their productivity gained the duo entrance into an exclusive club, as they became the fourth pair of teammates in NBA history to score 40 or more points in the same playoff game. It was the first time the feat had been accomplished since May 5, 1995, when Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon scored 41 and 40 points, respectively, in a first-round game against Utah.
May 7, 1972
The Lakers defeated the New York Knicks 4-1 in the NBA Finals, capturing their first league championship since moving to Los Angeles from Minneapolis.
May 7, 1989
Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls got the ball on the right side of the court with his team trailing by one point in the closing seconds of a deciding Game 5 of their 1989 Eastern Conference First Round playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jordan drove just inside the top of the key and while falling away from the basket to his left nailed an 18-footer over the outstretched fingertips of leaping Cavaliers’ defender Craig Ehlo for a 101-100 victory.
May 7, 1994
In one of the biggest upsets in NBA Playoff history, the eighth-seeded Denver Nuggets eliminated the top-seeded Seattle SuperSonics 98-94 in overtime in Game 5 of their Western Conference First Round series at the Seattle Coliseum. The Nuggets, who won the last three games of the series, became the first # 8 seed to upset a # 1 seed since the First Round of the NBA Playoffs went to a best-of-5 format in 1984. Nuggets center Dikembe Mutombo fell to the floor after grabbing the final rebound, clutching the ball as tears of joy streamed down his face.
May 7, 1995
Indiana’s Reggie Miller scored eight points (two three-pointers, two game–winning free throws) over the final 16.4 seconds of the game, helping lead the Pacers to a shocking 107-105 come-from-behind win over host New York in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series. The Pacers went on to win the series in seven games.
May 7, 2017
The Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the Toronto Raptors 109-102 in the Eastern Conference semifinals, winning the series 4-0.
May 8, 1970
The Knicks claimed their first NBA title by defeating Los Angeles 113-99 in Game 7 of the Finals. New York was led by the inspirational play of injured center Willis Reed, who limped onto the court and scored the game’s first two baskets, and guard Walt Frazier, who led the Knicks with 36 points and 19 assists.
May 8, 1988
Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls scored 226 points in the Bulls’ five-game Eastern Conference first round series against Cleveland, breaking Bernard King’s record of 213 set in 1984.
May 8, 1988
The Los Angeles Lakers held the Utah Jazz to just eight points in the first quarter of Game 1 of their Western Conference semifnials series, a 110-91 Lakers’ victory, with the Jazz setting a record low for first quarter points scored in an NBA Playoff game.
May 8, 1999
Utah’s Karl Malone (3,712 points) passed Magic Johnson (3,701) for the sixth position all-time in playoff scoring.
May 8, 2000
John Nucatola, one of the original referees in the NBA when it was formed as the Basketball Association of America in 1946, dies at the age of 92. Nucatola, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a referee in 1978, was the NBA’s Supervisor of Officials from 1970 to 1977. He officiated in more than 2,000 games during his career at the collegiate, Olympic and professional levels. Born November 17, 1907, in New York, Nucatola was once called basketball’s “greatest official” by Hall of Famer Clair Bee. After a playing and coaching career of 22 years, Nucatola became a referee in the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC). He later went on to officiate games in the ACC and Ivy League and became one of the founders of the College Basketball Officials Association. He officiated in 18 NCAA and 18 NIT tournaments while conducting over 1,200 clinics worldwide.
May 8, 2016
The Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the Atlanta Hawks 100-99 in the Eastern Conference semifinals for a 4-0 series win.
May 8, 2017
The Golden State Warriors defeat the Utah Jazz 121-95 in the Western Conference semifinals, winnings the series 4-0/
May 9, 1983
George and Gordon Gund, co-owners of The Coliseum, assumed ownership of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
May 9, 1988
Former NBA legends Lenny Wilkens and K. C. Jones were among three men inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Wilkens would get the call from the Hall again 10 years later, when he was inducted as a coach.
May 9, 1994
Longtime NBA head coach and former NBA player Buddy Jeannette were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
May 9, 2000
The NBA announced that Stu Jackson, former President and General Manager of the Vancouver Grizzlies, would join the NBA as Senior Vice President, Basketball Operations, effective June 1. On June 6, 2000, the NBA announced that, effective July 1, Jackson would assume the responsibilities previously held by Rod Thorn as head of the NBA’s Basketball Operations department. Jackson’s new duties would include chairing the league’s Competition and Rules Committee, overseeing officiating, and imposing discipline for misconduct by players and coaches. The NBA said Jackson would report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Russ Granik.
May 9, 2009
Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Daly, winner of 2 NBA Championships, dies in Jupiter, Florida at the age of 78.
May 10, 1974
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s sky-hook with three seconds remaining in the second overtime gave Milwaukee a 102-101 victory over Boston in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The Celtics, however, took the deciding seventh game.
May 10, 1987
Sleepy Floyd of Golden State set NBA playoff records with 29 points in the fourth quarter and 39 points in the second half as the Warriors beat the Los Angeles Lakers 129-121 in Game 4 of the West Semifinals. Floyd finished the game with 51 points.
May 10, 1993
Former NBA players Julius Erving, Walt Bellamy, Dan Issel, Dick McGuire, Calvin Murphy and Bill Walton were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
May 10, 1995
Chicago’s 104-94 win over host Orlando in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal Round series drew a 7.9 rating on TNT and was viewed in an average of better than five million homes, making it at the time the most watched NBA game ever on cable television.
May 10, 2016
Stephen Curry of the Warriors becomes the first unanimous NBA MVP winner after breaking his own record for 3-pointers in a season (402) and leading Golden State to an NBA-record 73-9 season. In winning the MVP, he became the 11th back-to-back MVP winner in NBA history and the first since Steve Nash in 2004-05 and 2005-06 to accomplish the feat.
May 10, 2021
Russell Westbrook finishes with 28 points, 13 rebounds and 21 assists in the Wizards’ 125-124 loss to surpass Oscar Robertson for the all-time lead in triple-doubles. Westbrook’s performance was his 182nd career triple-double, besting the mark set by Robertson that had stood since his retirement in 1974.
May 11, 1976
Before a capacity crowd of 21,564 at the Richfield Coliseum, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Boston Celtics 83-78 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston went on to win the series 4-2 and later the NBA Championship, but the 1975-76 season still stands as the Miracle of Richfield.
May 11, 1980
One of the NBA’s most memorable moves took place on this date. Julius Erving started out on the right side and drove past Lakers’ forward Mark Landsberger along the baseline. As Erving elevated toward the basket, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar came over to block a layup attempt. Erving changed course in mid-air and floated behind the backboard to the other side of the basket then wrapped his right arm behind Kareem and laid in a reverse layup. “Here I was trying to win a championship and my mouth just dropped open,” recalled Lakers’ guard Magic Johnson, then a rookie. “I thought, ‘What should we do? Should we take the ball out or should we ask him to do it again?’” The Lakers would win the series in six games.
May 11, 1992
NBA legends Bob Lanier and Connie Hawkins and long-time NBA coach Jack Ramsay were among nine individuals inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
May 11, 1992
The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the host Phoenix Suns 153-151 in double-overtime in Game 4 of their Western Conference Semifinal Round series, the highest-scoring NBA Playoff game ever. The Blazers went on to win the series in five games.
May 11, 2000
Elton Brand of the Chicago Bulls and Steve Francis of the Houston Rockets, who both enjoyed stellar first-year campaigns, are named co-winners of the 1999-2000 Schick Rookie of the Year Award. Brand and Francis each received 58 of a possible 121 votes from a nationwide panel of sports writers and broadcasters.
May 11, 2000
Hall of Fame guard Nate “Tiny” Archibald is named head coach of the NBA Ambassadors, the NBA developmental league’s entry in the 2000 Asian Basketball Association League. Former NBA swingman Tony Campbell was named as Archibald’s assistant coach. The NBA Ambassadors were one of six teams to take part in a six-week competition against teams from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
May 11, 2001
Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors connected on eight 3-point field goals in one half of his team’s 102-78 win over Philadelphia in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It broke a record shared by five players of six 3-pointers made in one half of a playoff game.
May 11, 2011
Former NBA player Robert Traylor is found dead in his apartment at the age of 34 of a heart attack.
May 12, 1974
The Boston Celtics won their 12th NBA Championship, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks 102-87 in Game 7 at Milwaukee.
May 12, 1985
New York won the first-ever NBA Draft Lottery, enabling the Knicks to select Georgetown center Patrick Ewing with the first pick in the 1985 NBA Draft.
May 12, 1992
USA Basketball named Christian Laettner and Clyde Drexler to the remaining spots on the “Dream Team” for the 1992 Olympics.
May 12, 1996
Houston’s two-year reign as NBA Champions ends as Seattle, led by Shawn Kemp’s 32 points and 15 rebounds, tops the Rockets 114-107 in overtime in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals, completing a series sweep.
May 12, 2019
Kawhi Leonard hit a shot from the corner over Joel Embiid at the buzzer that bounced off the rim four times before falling to give the Toronto Raptors a 92-90 victory over the 76ers on Sunday night in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series. It was the first winning buzzer-beater in a Game 7 in NBA history.
May 13, 1976
The New York Nets defeated the Denver Nuggets 112-106 to win what became the last ABA championship, four games to two. The next month, four former ABA teams–San Antonio, Denver, New York and Indiana were admitted into the NBA.
May 13, 1977
Maurice Lucas scored 26 points to help the Trail Blazers defeat the Lakers 105-101, for a sweep of the Western Conference Finals. Portland went on to capture its only NBA title, defeating Philadelphia 4-2 in the NBA Finals.
May 13, 1991
Former NBA Commissioner Larry O’Brien, National Basketball Players Association founder Larry Fleisher and NBA legends Nate Archibald, Dave Cowens and Harry Gallatin were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
May 13, 1999
The San Antonio Spurs defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 85-71 in Game 3 of their first round Western Conference playoff series. The win was the first of what would become a record 12 straight playoff game victories in one playoffs for the Spurs. San Antonio would lose only once more in the 1999 playoffs en route to capturing its first NBA championship.
May 13, 1999
Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson recorded an NBA playoff-record 10 steals in a 97-85 win over the Orlando Magic.
May 14, 1980
Magic Johnson committed an NBA Finals-record 10 turnovers in Game 5 against Philadelphia, but the Lakers won anyway, 108-103 at Los Angeles.
May 14, 1981
Larry Bird scored 27 points and Cedric Maxwell added 19 to lead Boston to a 102-91 victory over Houston in Game 6 of the Finals, giving the Celtics their 14th NBA Championship.
May 14, 1996
The legendary Earvin “Magic” Johnson of the LA Lakers, who returned to the NBA after a four-year retirement to play 32 regular season and four playoff games, announced his retirement from the NBA.
May 14, 2003
Hall of Fame NBA player, NBA coach, and ABA Commissioner Dave DeBusschere passes away in New York, aged 62.
May 15, 1982
The Los Angeles Lakers moved into the NBA Finals by beating San Antonio 128-123 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. It was the Lakers’ eighth straight victory, making them the first team in NBA Playoff history to sweep back-to- back best-of-7 series.
May 15, 1984
Magic Johnson notched a playoff record 24 assists as the Lakers beat Phoenix 118-102 in Game 2 of the West Finals. John Stockton of the Utah Jazz tied the record with 24 assists against the Lakers on May 17, 1988.
May 15, 1990
Former NBA stars Dave Bing, Elvin Hayes, Neil Johnston and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
May 15, 1995
Former NBA stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Vern Mikkelsen, former NBA coach John Kundla and former NBA referee Earl Strom were among seven individuals inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
May 15, 2001
Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers was named the recipient of the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the 2000-01 season, at 6-foot and 165 pounds becoming the shortest and lightest MVP in league history.
May 16, 1980
Rookie guard Magic Johnson filled in at center for the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and came up with 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists as the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title by beating Philadelphia 123-107 in Game 6 of the Finals. Johnson sank all 14 of his free throw attempts to set a Finals record and he was named the Finals MVP. Johnson’s 42 points were the most scored by a rookie in an NBA Finals game.
May 16, 1999
The New York Knicks became only the second eighth-seeded team in NBA playoff history to defeat a number one seed in the playoffs when they defeated the Miami Heat in five games. Seattle was the other eighth-seeded team to advance when they ousted Seattle in 1994.
May 16, 2000
Utah’s Jef Hornacek walked off the court for the final time after the Jazz are eliminated from the postseason by the Portland Trail Blazers. Hornacek, who entered the league as a point guard and ended up one of the game’s best pure shooters, concluded his career after 1,077 career games. He averaged 14.5 points and 4.9 assists per game, with shooting percentages of 49.6% from the field, 40.3% from three-point range and 87.7% from the free throw line.
May 16, 2001
Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers scored 52 points against the Toronto Raptors in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series. Iverson joined Michael Jordan as the only two players ever to score 50 or more points in two games of the same playoff series. Iverson scored 54 points against Toronto in Game 2 of the series.
May 17, 1979
Jack Sikma of Seattle scored 33 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the SuperSonics to a 114-110 victory over Phoenix in Game 7 of their Western Conference Finals series, before a crowd of 37,552 at the Kingdome. The Sonics went on to win their only NBA Championship, defeating Washington in five games in the Finals.
May 17, 1988
John Stockton of Utah tied Magic Johnson’s NBA Playoff assist record with 24 in a losing effort (111-109) against Los Angeles in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
May 17, 1993
New York’s Pat Riley was named IBM NBA Coach of the Year, beating out Houston’s Rudy Tomjanovich by a single vote in the closest balloting ever, becoming only the fifth NBA coach to win the award twice. Riley, who led the Knicks to a 60-win season for only the second time in the 47-year history of the franchise, also won the Coach of the Year award with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1990.
May 17, 1995
Jason Kidd of Dallas and Grant Hill of Detroit were named co-winners of the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, marking the first time since 1971–when Boston’s Dave Cowens and Portland’s Geoff Petrie were named co-winners–that two players shared the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy.
May 18, 1975
Rick Barry hit a jumper with 38 seconds remaining to put Game 1 of the NBA Finals out of reach as Golden State defeated Washington 101-95. Barry, the series MVP, continued with dominating performances as the Warriors swept the Bullets 4-0 to take the title.
May 18, 1998
Michael Jordan is named the 1998 NBA Most Valuable Player, earning his fifth MVP honor, tied for the second-most league MVP awards with the legendary Bill Russell. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was named NBA MVP a record six times.
May 18, 2021
The Indiana Pacers defeat the Charlotte Hornets 144-117 and the Boston Celtics defeat the Washington Wizards 118-100 in the inaugural games of the State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards clinch the No. 7 seed with their win, while the Pacers move on to play the Celtics in another Play-In game with the No. 8 seed on the line.
May 19, 1928
Dolph Schayes is born in New York City.
May 19, 1987
Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson was named the Edge NBA Most Valuable Player after averaging 23.9 ppg and a league-high 12.2 apg, becoming the first guard in 23 years to gain that honor.
May 19, 2009
The NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers win the first overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft lottery. This was the Clippers’ first lottery win since the 1998 NBA Draft where they selected Michael Olowokandi out of the University of Pacific.
May 19, 2021
The Memphis Grizzlies defeat the San Antonio Spurs 100-96 and the Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Golden State Warriors 103-100 in the inaugural games of the State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament in the Western Conference. The Lakers clinch the No. 7 seed with their win, while the Grizzlies move on to play the Warriors in another Play-In game with the No. 8 seed on the line.
May 20, 1979
Washington reserve Larry Wright hit two free throws with no time on the clock to give his club a 99-97 victory in the opening game of the NBA Finals against Seattle. Wright’s clutch shots gave him 26 points in just 23 minutes and led the Bullets to their only victory of the five-game championship series.
May 20, 1995
Houston’s Mario Elie sank a three-pointer from the corner with 7.1 seconds left in the game, lifting the visiting Rockets to a 115-114 win over Phoenix in Game 7 of their Western Conference Semifinal Round series at America West Arena. With the win, the Rockets became the first NBA team in 13 years (since the ’82 Sixers against Boston) to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-7 playoff series. Houston’s victory also broke a string of 20 consecutive wins by the home team in the deciding Game 7 of a playoff series. Just 24 hours later, Indiana repeated that feat by the road team after downing host New York 97-95 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal Round series.
May 20, 1996
Chicago’s Michael Jordan earns a record 96.5 percent of first-place votes (109 of 113) from the media to win the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the 1995-96 NBA Most Valuable Player, his fourth overall NBA MVP Award. Jordan’s MVP stats include 30.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.20 steals per game
May 20, 2000
Malik Sealy of the Minnesota Timberwolves dies in an auto accident at the age of 30. Sealy starred at Tolentine High School in the Bronx, leading the school to the mythical high school national championship in 1988. Later that year, he took his game to St. John’s, where he carved out a stellar career, putting together numbers bettered only by Chris Mullin. Sealy was drafted by the Indiana Pacers with the 14th pick in the first round of the 1992 NBA Draft, and he played with Indiana, the Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit and Minnesota in an eight-year NBA career.
May 20, 2012
The San Antonio Spurs defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 102-99 in the Western Conference semifinals for a 4-0 series win.
May 20, 2019
A Game 4 win against the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals sends the Golden State Warriors to The Finals for a fifth straight postseason. They join the 1960s Boston Celtics (10 total) as the only teams in NBA history to make The Finals in five consecutive seasons or more. The Celtics hold the all-time record for consecutive Finals berths, appearing in 10 championship series from 1957-67.
May 20, 2021
The Washington Wizards defeat the Indiana Pacers 142-115 in the State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament to clinch the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
May 21, 1986
Ralph Sampson, who teamed with Hakeem Olajuwon in a Twin Towers alignment for the Houston Rockets, caught an inbounds pass with one second left and bounced in a turnaround jumper to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 114-112 at Los Angeles in Game 5 of the 1986 Western Conference Finals. The loss kept the defending champion Lakers, who had won 62 games during the regular season, out of the NBA Finals for the only time in a span of eight years from 1982 through 1989.
May 21, 1991
With a 105-97 win over the Detroit Pistons at Chicago Stadium in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Final series, the Chicago Bulls set an NBA playoff record for consecutive wins at home with 15. The Bulls’ postseason home winning streak was broken on June 2, 1991 by the Los Angeles Lakers, with a 93-91 loss in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
May 21, 1992
Golden State’s Don Nelson was named IBM NBA Coach of the Year, becoming the first NBA coach to win the award three times. Nelson guided the Warriors to a 55-27 record, the second-best mark in franchise history. Nelson also won the Coach of the Year award in Milwaukee in 1983 and 1985.
May 21, 1994
In Denver’s 91-81 loss to Utah in Game 7 of their Western Conference Semifinal Round series, Dikembe Mutombo swatted away two shots to give him an NBA record 38 for a seven-game playoff series, obliterating Hakeem Olajuwon’s previous mark of 30, set in 1993 against Seattle.
May 21, 1996
Chicago’s 93-88 home win over Orlando in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals draws an 8.6 rating and a 13.8 share on TNT. With nearly 8.2 million persons tuning in, it is the most-watched NBA game in cable television history.
May 21, 1998
The Sacramento Kings traded veterans Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe to the Washington Wizards for Chris Webber.
May 21, 2021
The Memphis Grizzlies defeat the Golden State Warriors 117-112 in the State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament to clinch the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
May 22, 1963
The NBA approved the franchise shift of the Syracuse Nationals to Philadelphia. The franchise was purchased by Philadelphia’s Irv Kosloff and Ike Richman earlier that spring.
May 22, 1988
Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird traded bucket for bucket in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals until Boston escaped with a 118-116 victory. Wilkins finished with 47 points and Bird had 34 — with 20 of his points tallied in the fourth quarter. “The basket was like a well,” remembered Wilkins. “I couldn’t miss. He couldn’t miss. That’s the greatest game I’ve ever played in or seen played. It was two guys who just did not want to lose.” The teams shot a combined .588 percent from the field, the second highest mark in playoff history.
May 22, 1994
Toronto, scheduled to enter the NBA as an expansion franchise in 1995-96, unveiled Raptors as the team’s nickname.
May 22, 2017
The Golden State Warriors defeat the San Antonio Spurs 129-115 in the Western Conference Finals for a 4-0 series win.
May 23, 1975
Golden State notched an NBA Finals game record 17 steals during their 109-101 victory over Washington in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
May 23, 1976
Boston center Dave Cowens dominated the opener of the NBA Finals against Phoenix with a 25-point, 21-rebound performance as the Celtics defeated the Suns, 98-87. Boston eventually took its 13th NBA title in six games.
May 23, 1978
Portland center Bill Walton was named the NBA’s MVP for the 1977-78 season. Walton led his club to a 50-10 record before succumbing to multiple foot injuries, playing in 58 games and averaging 18.9 ppg and 13.2 rpg.
May 23, 1982
The Philadelphia 76ers, after leading Boston three games to one only to have the Celtics draw even, invaded Boston Garden and came away with a 120-106 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. “Beat L.A!” was the chant that resounded through Boston Garden late in the game. Although the Sixers were beating their beloved team, Boston fans wanted anyone to beat the Los Angeles Lakers. It didn’t happen, though, as the Lakers beat the Sixers in six games for the NBA title.
May 23, 2002
The NBDL established new league offices in Greenville, S.C.
May 24, 1999
Orlando Magic head coach and Hall of Famer Chuck Daly resigns from his position. The 68-year-old Daly made his debut as an NBA head coach in the 1981-82 season, coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers for 41 games as an interim replacement. Daly later won two NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons and led the “Dream Team” to gold in the 1992 Olympic Summer Games.
May 24, 2000
Isiah Thomas, one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and the leader of the Detroit Pistons’ championship teams in 1989 and 1990, and Bob McAdoo, one of the greatest scoring forwards ever in the NBA, were among six individuals elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
May 25, 1975
Golden State beat Washington 96-95 to complete a sweep of the NBA Finals, one of only six title sweeps. The others were by Boston (1959), Milwaukee (1971), Philadelphia (1983), Detroit (1989) and the Los Angeles Lakers (2002).
May 25, 1992
Danny Biasone, who was credited with introducing the 24-second shot clock to the NBA for the 1954-55 season, died in Syracuse at the age of 83. Biasone arrived at 24 seconds by dividing 2,880 seconds, the total playing time, by 120, the approximate number of shots he figured two teams took in a game.
May 25, 1993
Charles Barkley, acquired by the Phoenix Suns in June of 1992, won the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the 1993 NBA Most Valuable Player. Barkley, who helped lead the Phoenix Suns to a franchise and NBA-best 62-20 record during the 1992-93 season, averaged 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 76 games.
May 25, 2002
Paul Pierce outscores the New Jersey Nets 19-16 in the fourth quarter to help the Boston Celtics erase a 21-point deficit in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The 94-90 victory remains the biggest comeback in NBA Playoff history.
May 25, 2017
A deep 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:40 left in the third quarter gives LeBron James the postseason’s all-time scoring title. James accomplished the feat in Game 5 of the 2017 Eastern Conference finals, as the Cavs won 135-102 to reach a third straight NBA Finals. James’ shot moved him to 5,989 career playoff points, passing Michael Jordan (5,987), who held the record for 19 years. James reached the record in his 212th game, while Jordan played in 179 playoff games.
May 25, 2019
Behind 27 points and 17 rebounds from Kawhi Leonard, the Toronto Raptors drop the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals to clinch their first trip to The Finals. The Raptors went on a game-changing 26-3 run in the late third quarter that fueled their comeback win that clinched the series.
May 26, 1987
Boston’s Larry Bird stole an inbounds pass from Detroit’s Isiah Thomas and fed over his shoulder to a cutting Dennis Johnson for the winning basket as the Celtics pulled out an improbable 108-107 win over Detroit in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
May 26, 1999
“The Bill Russell Tribute” is held at the FleetCenter in Boston in a ceremony to salute the Hall of Famer. The ceremony was hosted by entertainer Bill Cosby and featured a star-studded lineup of celebrities and sports legends.
May 26, 1999
Toronto’s Vince Carter, winner of 95.8% of the votes, is named the 1998-99 NBA Rookie of the Year. He averaged 18.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.54 blocked shots, and 1.10 steals while shooting .450 from the field in 1998-99
May 26, 2015
The Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the Atlanta Hawks 118-88 in the Eastern Conference Finals for a 4-0 series win.
May 27, 1973
The Bucks finished the year with 14 straight victories to end the season, one off the league record of 15 straight wins to end the season established by the Rochester Royals in 1950.
May 27, 1981
Julius Erving of the Philadelphia 76ers was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, making him the only player to win MVP honors in both the NBA and the ABA.
May 27, 1982
The Los Angeles Lakers, despite an 11-day layoff between playoff series, beat Philadelphia 124-117 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals for their ninth consecutive victory, at the time an NBA record for consecutive wins during one postseason.
May 27, 1985
Scott Wedman sank four three-point field goals without a miss and shot 11-for-11 overall from the field, both NBA Finals records, as Boston routed the Los Angeles Lakers 148-114 in Game 1. Boston’s 148 points and 62 field goals remain NBA Finals records.
May 27, 1988
Red McCombs purchased the Spurs for $47 million, becoming the first principal owner of the franchise.
May 27, 2013
The San Antonio Spurs defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 93-86 in the West Conference finals, winning the series 4-0.
May 28, 1938
Jerry West is born in Chelyan, West Virginia.
May 28, 1978
Dennis Johnson of Seattle blocked seven shots in a 93-92 win over Washington in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. The seven blocks are the most ever by a guard in an NBA Finals game.
May 28, 1986
Boston forward Larry Bird won his third consecutive Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. Bird joined Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to win three consecutive NBA MVP awards.
May 28, 1989
The Los Angeles Lakers beat Phoenix 122-117 to complete a sweep of the Western Conference Finals. It was the Lakers’ 11th consecutive win of the 1989 Playoffs and their third straight series sweep. However, the injury-riddled Lakers were swept by Detroit in the 1989 NBA Finals.
May 28, 1992
Portland’s Terry Porter, despite only shooting 1-for-6 from three-point range in the Trail Blazers’ series-clinching 105-97 win over Utah in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, set an NBA Playoff record (for a six-game series), by connecting on 18 three-pointers (in 34 attempts) for the series.
May 28, 2016
Golden State’s Klay Thompson sinks an NBA playoff-record 11 3-pointers to power the Warriors’ 108-101 comeback win against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals. Thompson and the Warriors would go on to win Game 7 to reach their second straight trip to The Finals.
May 29, 1995
Rik Smits of Indiana swished a foul line jumper with no time left on the clock to lead the host Pacers to a 94-93 win over Orlando in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Prior to Smits’ game-winning shot, the lead had changed hands three times over the final 13.3 seconds, with Indiana’s Reggie Miller and Orlando’s Brian Shaw and Anfernee Hardaway all nailing three-point field goals.
May 29, 1997
John Stockton of the Jazz nailed a 3-pointer as time expired to lift Utah to a 103-100 win against the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals. That victory gave the Jazz the series and lifted the franchise to its first NBA Finals appearance.
May 30, 1976
Phoenix rookie center Alvan Adams scored 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Suns to a 105-98 Game 3 victory over Boston in the NBA Finals.
May 30, 2012
Hall of Famer Jack Twyman, know for his off-court assist to Maurice Stokes, dies at the age of 78.
May 31, 1983
“Fo’ Fo’ Fo’,” declared Moses Malone predicting that the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers, who had dominated the regular season with a 65-17 record, would sweep their three rounds in the 1983 NBA Playoffs. They came close but the Milwaukee Bucks spoiled Malone’s prediction by winning Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals 100-94. Otherwise Philadelphia was perfect, sweeping New York, beating the Bucks in five and then sweeping the Lakers in the Finals. Their 12-1 record and .923 winning percentage stood as the best in playoff history until the Lakers went 15-1 (.938) in 2001. The 76ers commemorated Malone’s prediction, with one slight alteration, on their championship rings: “Fo’ Fi’ Fo’.”
May 31, 1984
Gerald Henderson of the Boston Celtics stole a crosscourt pass by Los Angeles’ James Worthy and laid the ball in with 13 seconds left in regulation to send Game 2 of the 1984 NBA Finals into overtime. The Celtics, who had dropped Game 1 and would lose Game 3, managed to pull out a 124-121 overtime win in Game 2 and eventually won the series in seven games.
May 31, 1991
The New York Knicks named Pat Riley head coach.