History

This Week in NBA History: Week of May 26

Larry Bird's iconic steal shifts the momentum in the 1987 East Finals; Klay Thompson makes a playoff-record 11 3-pointers in Game 6 of the 2016 West Finals.

Bird Steals the Inbound Pass! - May 26, 1987

An inside look at Larry Bird’s iconic steal from Isiah Thomas during Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals.


Below is a day-by-day look at landmark moments, games, performances and more from this week in NBA lore.

May 26

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

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, 1991

The Chicago Bulls defeat the Detroit Pistons in Game 4 to clinch the franchise’s first trip to The Finals.

May 27, 2013

The San Antonio Spurs defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 93-86 in the West finals, winning the series 4-0.


May 28

May 28, 1938

Jerry West is born in Chelyan, WVa.

Jerry West was a 12-time All-NBA performer who knew how to elevate his game when the lights shined the brightest.

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.

On May 28, 2016, Klay Thompson hit 11 threes to save the Warriors from elimination against the Thunder.


May 29

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.

Rik Smits hit a turnaround shot to end a thrilling Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Magic in 1995.

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.

John Stockton drains a 3-pointer at the buzzer to eliminate the Houston Rockets in Game 6 and send the Utah Jazz to their first NBA Finals.


May 30

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

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’.”

The Sixers deliver on a long-held title promise and clinch a championship in 1983.

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.

Gerald Henderson's steal keeps Celtics from going down 0-2 in the 1984 NBA Finals.

May 31, 1991

The New York Knicks named Pat Riley head coach.

May 31, 1999

San Antonio Spurs forward Sean Elliot tip-toes the sideline before knocking down the game-winning 3-pointer, delivering the Spurs a “Memorial Day Miracle” in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

May 31, 2007

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James scored the team’s final 25 points in a double-overtime win against the Detroit Pistons in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.

On May 31, 2007 LeBron James scored the Cavaliers last 25 points of the game, leading Cleveland to a Game 5 Eastern Conference Finals win in double overtime!


June 1

June 1, 1979

The Seattle SuperSonics, who dropped the championship series opener, beat Washington 97-93 in Game 5 for their fourth consecutive Finals victory, capturing their only NBA championship, as Gus Williams scored 23 points and Jack Sikma grabbed 17 rebounds.

June 1, 1993

Dan Majerle of Phoenix set a then-playoffs record by sinking eight 3-pointers during the Suns’ 120-114 victory over Seattle in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. Majerle finished the game with 34 points.

June 1, 1994

Indiana’s Reggie Miller drilled an NBA playoffs record five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of the Pacers’ 93-86 win over host New York in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. Miller finished with a game-high 39 points, shooting 6-for-11 from 3-point range. Five players have since tied Miller’s record of five 3-pointers in one quarter of a playoff game.

June 1, 2005

The original dominating big man and Hall-of-Famer George Mikan dies at 80.

George Mikan, one of the 1st superstars of the NBA, was a 3-time scoring champion and won 5 NBA titles in his career.

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