Buzzer Beaters We’ll Remember Forever

NBA | February 20, 2021
Sky Sports

NBA history is full of many impressive buzzer beaters, and narrowing them down to just five is no easy task. Without further ado, let us take a look at the ones we will never forget:

5. LeBron James Took Down the Magic

May 22, 2009: Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals

LeBron James, who led the 2008-09 Cavaliers to a franchise-best 66 wins during the regular season, made the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three years.

King James’ game-high 49 points in Game 1 of the series against the third-seeded Magic were not enough, so Game 2 was pivotal for Cleveland in front of its home crowd. The Cavaliers jumped out to a large lead, but Orlando battled back.

With one second remaining, Hedo Turkoglu hit a contested shot in the paint to give the Magic a two-point lead. Then, after a timeout, LeBron received the inbound pass at the top of the key and drained the game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer over Turkoglu to win the game.

4. Damian Lillard’s Deep 3 Beat the Thunder

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 23: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots the three-point shot to win the game against Paul George #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during Game Five of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 23, 2019 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Bleacher Report

April 23, 2019: Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers, Game 5 of the First Round Series

Damian Lillard dominated the series to the tune of 33 points per game, and he put up a 50-spot in the series-clinching victory. The Moda Center crowd was excited for their Trail Blazers to return home for Game 5 after Portland took Game 4 behind a combined 51 points from CJ McCollum and Lillard.

Then, in what would become the final game of the series, the Trail Blazers made a tremendous comeback that culminated in Lillard’s awe-inspiring buzzer-beating shot over Paul George to knock the Thunder out of the playoffs. The everlasting image from this moment is the picture of Lillard staring deadpan into the camera.

3. Robert Horry in the Right Place at the Right Time


May 26, 2002: Sacramento Kings at Los Angeles Lakers, Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals

Who knew that Hedo Turkoglu would find his way onto the losing end of another historic buzzer beater, but he did here as a member of arguably the best Kings team in franchise history. Unfortunately for Sacramento, the Lakers were a very tough foe standing in the way.

The Kings entered Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead and led by as many as 24 points in this contest at Staples Center. Sacramento led for almost the entire game, but Los Angeles roared back. With three seconds remaining, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal missed shots in the paint. Then, the ball magically bounced out to Big Shot Bob. He swished the buzzer beater to give a boost to the Lakers’ third championship run of their three-peat.

2. Michael Jordan’s “The Shot” over Craig Ehlo


May 7, 1989: Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 5 of the First Round Series

“The Shot” will always be remembered for Michael Jordan’s brilliant buzzer beater, as he scored his 44th point in his 44th minute of the 101-100 victory to send the Cavaliers home. Interestingly, the 1989 playoff run would be the team’s final one with Doug Collins. Phil Jackson took over for the 1989-90 season, and the rest is history.

1. Kawhi Leonard with the Shooter’s Touch

New York Times

May 12, 2019: Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals

Jordan’s iconic game-winner came in a decisive Game 5, but here we have Kawhi Leonard taking the top spot for his Game 7 buzzer beater that hit practically every part of the rim. Leonard bounced his way into the hearts of every Raptors fan with the buzzer beater from the corner.

After taking down the 76ers, Leonard and the Raptors defeated the Bucks and Warriors to led the team to its first NBA championship. With Leonard putting the franchise on the map, Toronto’s basketball history is no longer mired in the shortcomings of the Vince Carter era of yesteryear.

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Adam Lowenstein

Adam Lowenstein is a freelance sports journalist. He is also a dental resident at Tufts University. While completing his degrees, Adam wrote for numerous websites, covering various professional sports. Adam is a native of Massachusetts, and he attended Washington University in St. Louis when the St. Louis Rams were actually a thing. Adam recently completed his master's degree. In sports, Adam has spent the last couple of years covering the NBA, specifically the Boston Celtics.

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