What is widely considered the greatest basketball game of all time?
October 10, 2015 3:34 PM   Subscribe

I've recently, in the past few years, become obsessed with basketball. I paid a lot of attention to the last few seasons and I'm already paying attention to the pre-season right now. Every season has these amazing, incredible, jaw dropping moments, ones where me and all my friends or the bar I'm at are all screaming "NO WAY!" at the television. I'm looking for a spectacular display of basketball. A fierce rivalry. Crazy shots, last minute shots, amazing layups, incredible steals, exacting passes. Just... the best basketball game ever. What is it? Who were the characters? What was on the line? I need it.
posted by gucci mane to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The author of this article on Jordan's 10 best games says that the Flu Game is only at #3, which is ridiculous, because it is objectively the most incredible thing in NBA history.
posted by Etrigan at 3:55 PM on October 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Duke...Kentucky...1992 NCAA Regional Finals. "The Shot" Two of the greatest programs in NCAA history. A perfect performance by the controversial Laettner. Two last second shots. It just doesn't get better than that. Or worse, depending on what color blue you wear.
posted by dpaul at 3:55 PM on October 10, 2015 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Game 5 of the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals.
posted by box at 4:04 PM on October 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The greatest game ever played was a Dream Team 1992 intrasquad practice game.

Spain vs. the USA in the gold medal game of the 2008 Olympics is a hidden classic.

I'll also chime in that Jordan's flu game is a pantheon sports moment.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:05 PM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Probably not widely considered to be the best game, but hella exciting: 2009 six overtime quarterfinal of Big East tournament between UConn and Syracuse. You can watch it.
posted by CincyBlues at 4:23 PM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not sure if I linked the game properly.
posted by CincyBlues at 4:27 PM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Chiming in with my vote for Jordan's flu game. I still remember where I was when I watched it. Simply amazing...
posted by bookmammal at 4:29 PM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Is there any way to get a good quality version of the flu game in its entirety?
posted by gucci mane at 4:30 PM on October 10, 2015

Best answer: I bet you could buy a DVD of the entire series. Here's a highlight reel -- tons of those on YouTube.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:56 PM on October 10, 2015

Best answer: I came here to say what dpaul said. Also, the ESPN documentary "I Hate Christian Laettner" is really good and available on Netflix.
posted by 4ster at 5:21 PM on October 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Oh my God, the flu game. That might not be the BEST basketball game I've ever seen, but it was definitely the most memorable. Everyone in Chicago was sweating every drop with him. He was so, so sick and you could see him shaking. And in the third quarter we thought he was going to pass out on the court. And then in the fourth quarter, by sheer force of human will, he forced his body to play totally dominant basketball. We literally watched a man conquer microbes through grit and determination. You know how read about these explorers and soldiers and so on, who force their bodies on through unbelievable exhaustion, and you're like "how could a body even do that?" This is like someone made a movie of that, compressed into a basketball game, and you get to watch the whole thing live in real time. (Only with no danger of actual death, just losing a game.) It was totally riveting.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:22 PM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: NCAA 2010 finals Butler vs Duke is a cliff-hanger.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:33 PM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'd have to go with Game 6 of the 2009 Bulls-Celtics series. The series went seven games, four games (1, 4, 5, and 6, and game four was double-overtime, game six went triple-overtime). The two teams definitely disliked each other (this was the birth of the Bull's fan refrain 'fuck Rondo' after he hurled Kirk Hinrich into the scorer's table), and it was also Derrick Rose's rookie year, when the future was still bright and all was still possible. Everything about the game is amazing, capped by Joakim Noah's steal, length of the floor dribble, and 1 dunk over Pierce, who fouled out on the play.

No, seriously, it's amazing.

The other game I'd say is worthy is the Nate Robinson game in the 2013 playoffs, where Robinson scored 23 points in the fourth quarter, followed by a dominant overtime, it's one of the best "one player decides they won't be losing today" games I've ever seen. Game 7 of the same series, when Noah put up 24 and 12 while dealing with a severe foot injury, is also pretty great.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:34 PM on October 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I'll go with a different choice. When the Harlem Globetrotters played and defeated the all-white Nba champions, the Minneapolis Lakers in a tight game,,changing basketball history.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:36 PM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Globetrotters-Lakers just reminded me of Texas Western-Kentucky in 1966, which was made into the movie Glory Road. An underdog team with five black starters upset an all-white Kentucky team that included Pat Riley.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:31 PM on October 10, 2015

A lot depends on what you mean by Great. But if you mean a superhuman force of will it was either the flu game or Game 7 of the Lakers-Celtics 84 series where Larry Bird Larry Birded.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:21 AM on October 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My vote goes to the triple-overtime Game 5 of the 1976 NBA finals.
posted by Right On Red at 4:46 AM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I used to watch basketball with my dad when I was a kid, and I totally remember that 1995 game box mentions. I actually didn't watch the end because I didn't want to see the Pacers lose (I was a sensitive ten year old) but I still remember the total excitement of Miller scoring all those points to win the game.

I don't really follow basketball at all, but as a Hoosier, that gets my vote :)
posted by theRussian at 8:29 AM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lots of good suggestions above, and I'd probably take The Flu Game to a desert island with me, but Jordan's 63 point game against the Celtics in the 1986 playoffs is worth consideration. You get Bird in MVP form and the Celtics at their apex (on their way to a championship), two overtimes, and the game where it first became clear to most people that Jordan was more than just another young star ("God disguised as Michael Jordan," said Bird afterward).
posted by chimpsonfilm at 12:37 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The whole 1983 NCAA tournament run of the super-underdog NC State, starting with a 2 OT game against Pepperdine and ending with a showdown against the heavily favored "Phi Slama Jama" of Houston.
posted by freecellwizard at 2:52 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I was a sometime Pacers fan in the late 90s (for some reason) so I'd recommend two things:

1. The entire 1998 Eastern Conference Finals series between the Bulls and Pacers, especially games 3, 4, 6, and 7. In the midst of the Bulls' second three-peat, I'd say this is as close as anyone came to disrupting Jordan's dominance narrative. If the Bulls don't win this series, Jordan doesn't have his storybook exit after hitting the game-winner in game six of the Finals against the Jazz. Maybe he doesn't even retire yet.
2. Wait, never mind, box already mentioned the other one I was going to suggest. Even if you track down the original game footage, watch Winning Time also.
posted by savetheclocktower at 8:02 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also: it's nowhere near the best game ever played, but Larry Bird dropping 60 on the Hawks is just too much goddamn fun not to mention.
posted by savetheclocktower at 8:05 PM on October 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

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