NBA.com takes a look back at the top moments that define the history of the NBA.
The 1970 NBA Finals are best known for Willis Reed’s inspirational moment, when he limped out onto the floor at Madison Square Garden for Game 7 and scored New York’s first two baskets of the game, sparking the Knicks to a 113-99 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers for the franchise’s first NBA championship.
But Game 3 of that series produced another memorable moment in NBA history, thanks to an amazing shot by Lakers guard Jerry West, who earned the nickname “Mr. Clutch” for his ability to perform in pressure situations.
After splitting the first two games, the teams moved to Los Angeles for Game 3 and the Lakers promptly grabbed a 56-42 halftime lead. The Knicks, led by Dave DeBusschere and Dick Barnett, chipped away at the margin in the third quarter and finally drew even at 96-96 with two minutes to play. The lead seesawed until Wilt Chamberlain made one of two free throw attempts to tie the score again at 100 with 13 seconds left.
DeBusschere scored on a short jumper with three seconds to play to put New York up by two. The Lakers were out of timeouts, so West took the inbounds pass from Chamberlain in the backcourt, dribbled as far as he dared and then launched a 60-footer. It found its target as DeBusschere, under the basket, threw his arms up in disgust.
West’s heave tied the score at 102-102 and sent the game into overtime, but the Knicks managed to regroup for a 111-108 win. Had West’s shot been taken today it would have been worth three points and the Lakers would have won the game in regulation, which might well have changed the course of that series.