10 Best Plays in NBA History

What makes an NBA play truly legendary? Is it the sheer athletic prowess? The nail-biting suspense leading up to the moment? Or perhaps, it’s the legacy it leaves behind? If you’re a fan of powerful dunks, last-second victories, and unforgettable plays, then buckle up. This journey will take you through the defining moments of the game.

Best Plays in NBA History

We’ve sifted through some of the most celebrated plays, including Sports Illustrated’s top moments, internet fan-favorites, and game-changing impacts to bring you the ten best plays in NBA history.

10. Larry Bird’s Steal

The 1987 Eastern Conference finals were a testament to the relentless spirit of NBA legends. The series was locked at 2-2. Every second counted. Detroit’s Isiah Thomas had a mere five seconds to make his move. Bird, reading the situation like an open book, seized the moment, intercepting the ball with an agility that left fans in awe. With a swift pass to Dennis Johnson, victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat. Although they later lost to the Lakers, this play remains etched in history.

9. Shaq Destroys the Backboard

Orlando Magic’s rookie, Shaquille O’Neal, showed the world why he was destined for greatness. A dunk so forceful, it brought the backboard crashing down. The arena erupted, overshadowing Nick Anderson’s career-high points. A legendary play was born.

8. LeBron James with “The Block”

Few can forget the tension in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. With just under two minutes left, Golden State’s Andre Iguodala seemed poised to score. But LeBron James, refusing to be defeated, executed perhaps the most epic block in history. This play turned the tide in Cleveland’s favor, shattering Golden State’s dreams of victory of the players at livecasino made good money at the time.

7. Reggie Miller’s 8 Points in 9 Seconds

Reggie Miller, in the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals, achieved the impossible. Eight points in nine seconds. This whirlwind play secured the Pacers a win in Game 1 and left the world in stunned disbelief.

6. Tracy McGrady’s 13 Points in 35 Seconds

The 2004 game against the Spurs showcased McGrady’s never-say-die attitude. A series of impressive 3-pointers culminated in an incredible victory, against all odds.

5. Magic Johnson’s “Baby Skyhook”

In one of the most intense games ever, Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals, Magic Johnson’s iconic “baby skyhook” shot sailed past defenders, giving the Lakers a lead they’d never relinquish.

4. Kobe Bryant’s Last Shot

Kobe Bryant’s farewell game was nothing short of cinematic. With the Lakers trailing, Bryant displayed his “Mamba mentality,” scoring the game-winner, and ensuring he left the court as a legend.

3. “The Shot” by Michael Jordan

1989, Game 5 against the Cavaliers. Jordan, surrounded by defenders, leapt and scored. This fist-pumping moment became an instant classic, propelling the Bulls to six NBA titles over eight years.

2. The 0.4 Shot

The 2004 Western Conference semifinals saw an almost miraculous shot by the Lakers’ Fisher, turning a game everyone thought was lost into one of the most memorable wins in NBA history.

1. Michael Jordan’s Last Shot

Jordan’s final shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals is the stuff of legends. It sealed the Bulls’ championship victory and cemented Jordan’s legacy as perhaps the greatest NBA player of all time.


NBA history is rich with moments of magic, skill, and determination. These plays aren’t just displays of athleticism but are testament to the spirit of the game and the legends who’ve shaped it.


Why is Michael Jordan’s “Last Shot” ranked number one?

It combined skill, timing, and the sheer weight of the moment, epitomizing the best of NBA.

Did any of these plays lead to rule changes?

Shaq’s backboard-breaking dunk led to enhanced backboard structures in the league.

Who has the most appearances on this list?

Michael Jordan, with two defining moments.

Are newer players making plays of this caliber?

Absolutely! Every generation has its legends, and the NBA’s future promises many more iconic plays.

How were these plays ranked?

A combination of fan votes, expert opinions, and their impact on the game.