NBA’s Best Performances of the DecadeCategory: Basketball
In his column at nba.com, David Aldridge compiled a Best of the Decade list of all things related to NBA.
Aside from the Dunks of the Decade, one of those mentioned was the Best Individual Performance of the Decade. Actually, he has three finalists worth mentioning.
Here they are:
#1 Kobe Bryant scoring 81 points against the Toronto Raptors (January 22, 2006)
The best thing that can be said about Bryant’s night against Toronto — 28-for-46 from the floor, 18-for-20 from the foul line, seven 3-pointers — was that the Lakers needed every one of them to come from 18 points down in the second half to overtake the Raptors. There was no showboating, no messing with the integrity of the game (which, in fairness, must be said about Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962, when the Philadelphia Warriors purposely fouled Knicks players again and again in the final quarter so that they could get Chamberlain more shots). The Lakers needed Bryant to be that otherworldly to win, and he was.
He scored 55 in the second half — 27 in the third, 28 in the fourth — to lead the Lakers to a 122-104 win. Only Chamberlain has scored more in an NBA game.
Kobe was really remarkable that night. Kobe hit all kinds of shots on the way to scoring that feat. Simply remarkable.
#2 Lebron James scoring 29 of his team’s last 30 points in the 4th Q and OT against the Detroit Pistons (May 31, 2007)
He had been terrific in playoff series before, but in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, James made a lasting mark. Scoring 29 of his team’s last 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, and the last 25 points in a row, James single-handedly beat one of the league’s premier defenses, on the road, in the biggest game of the season. The Pistons tried everything. They went big with Jason Maxiell, and LeBron blew by him; they tried to long with Tayshaun Prince, and James went through him; they tried trapping him, and he shot over them, they tried doubling him, and he drove past them. Then he muscled through all of them for the game-winning drive in the second overtime.
Anything the Pistons threw at Lebron, he just shrugged it off and got his points.
#3 Tracy McGrady scoring 13 points in 33 seconds against the San Antonio Spurs (December 9, 2004)
The Rockets trailed 74-64 with a minute left when a Yao Ming dunk, followed by a David Padgett steal and dunk, cut the deficit to six. San Antonio’s Devin Brown made two free throws with 44.2 seconds left, but the rest was McGrady. He hit a three over Malik Rose with 35 seconds left to make it 76-71, and after Brown made two more foul shots at the other end, McGrady countered again, this time hitting a three while getting fouled by Tim Duncan with 24.3 to go. His free throw brought Houston within 78-75.
Duncan was fouled at 16.2 and made both free throws, but McGrady got Andre Barrett’s inbounds pass just before a five-second call, dribbled hard to his right and rose over Bowen for another three with 11.2 seconds remaining, making it 80-78. The Spurs called time and moved the ball to halfcourt. Brown got Brent Barry’s inbounds pass and dribbled to the baseline, where Padgett may have shoved him, a little; at any rate, Brown hit the deck and lost the ball, and McGrady came up with him under his basket, eight seconds left.
He dribbled up court, drifted to his left, pulled up in front of Tony Parker and alongside Barry — who contested the shot, but not close enough that a foul would be called — and drilled his fourth three in the final minute, giving the Rockets an 81-80 lead with 1.7 seconds left. Parker’s desperation heave at the buzzer missed, and Houston had stolen the game, with McGrady scoring 13 of his 33 points in the final 33 seconds.
This is amazing. More amazing in fact than Reggie Miller’s performance against the New York Knicks in Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals.
Aldridge’s pick as Best Individual Performance of the Decade? The Lebron one.
I couldn’t agree more. Lebron James earned the respect of his peers even more with this performance.If you want to receive my latest posts, please subscribe to my full feed RSS or have them delivered through email. Just enter your email address below and hit the Subscribe button.