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Best NBA Games of all time

16 Best NBA Games of All Time and Where to Watch Them

We’re now entering week three of essentially no sport (aside from the seemingly unconcerned Belarus football league) and frankly, we’ve had enough. Like so many people, the team here at Man of Many thrives on the efforts of our more athletically-gifted countrymen. With no rugby, NFL or football to keep us entertained, we’re starting to wonder if sport really existed in the first place, or whether it was all just a beautiful figment of our imagination. Well, good news team, sport definitely does exist and we know exactly where to find it. With the help of some pretty crafty Reddit users, we’ve uncovered the best NBA games of all time, but not just a handful. Oh no. We’ve got the league’s top 16.

So strap yourselves in. There are countless hours worth of footage to get through. Here is a list of the 16 best NBA games of all time, barring anything after 2013 (you can thank Adam Silver for that). We’ve collated our top 16 in order, but there is a bunch more that you can watch for free via the link at the bottom of the page.

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1. Game 5 1976 NBA Finals

Widely regarded as the closest game in NBA history, game five of the 1976 NBA finals is one of the league’s most iconic moments. Everything that could happen in a game of basketball happened in this game of basketball. It’s an absolutely thrilling few hours of play that holds up even by today’s lofty entertainment standards.

Date: June 4, 1976
Venue: Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Teams: Boston Celtics v Phoenix Suns
Coaches: Tom Heinsohn and John MacLeod

2. 2001 NBA All-Star Game

Allen Iverson in his prime, Vince Carter leaping over small buildings and Tim Duncan swatting shots like it’s nothing. The 2001 NBA All-Star spectacular is one of the best NBA games of all time out of sheer talent alone. The number of superstars on display is outrageous, not to mention that crazy camera angle that made it’s first and only appearance. Oh, and there’s a little known guy named Michael Jordan that pops up for a few quick buckets.

Date: February 11, 2001
Venue: MCI Center, Washington D.C.
Teams: East v West

3. Michael Jordan’s Flu Game

Was it the flu? Was a hangover? Was it food poisoning? No-one really knows what caused Michael Jordan’s mystery illness in game five of the 1997 NBA finals. All we know is that while it certainly wasn’t COVID-19, even coronavirus would have had a hard time stopping the GOAT from putting on a show. Heaven knows Utah certainly did.

Date: June 11, 1997
Venue: Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
Teams: Chicago Bulls v Utah Jazz
Coaches: Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan

4. The Tracy McGrady Show

One of the only games on this list where we actually remember the outcome. Houston combo guard/forward Tracy McGrady absolutely took over, making this not only one of the best NBA games of all time, but one of the best individual performances ever seen.

Date: December 9, 2004
Venue: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
Teams: Houston Rockets v San Antonio Spurs
Coaches: Jeff Van Gundy and Gregg Popovich

5. Kobe’s 81-Point Game

One of the most memorable individual performances in sports history, Kobe’s game against the Raptors is something of basketball folklore. It’s almost impossible to understand how significant this game was and the lasting impact that the great man had on the game itself.

Date: January 22, 2006
Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Teams: Los Angeles Lakers v Toronto Raptors
Coaches: Phil Jackson and Sam Mitchell

6. The Infamous Sir Charles

Long before he was a commentator and the lovable buffoon we’ve come to know, Charles Barkley was the most fierce competitor in the NBA. The Round Mound of Rebound was an absolute machine on both ends of the court and this could be Sir Charles’ best NBA game of all time.

Date: May 2, 1995
Venue: Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Portland, Oregon
Teams: Portland Trailblazers v Phoenix Suns
Coaches: P.J. Carlesimo and Paul Westphal, Cotton Fitzsimmons

7. Game 1 2001 NBA Finals

The game that inspired basketball fans all over the world to step over their opponents, solidifying Allen Iverson as a true icon of the sport. This might not be the best NBA game of all time, but with AI, Shaq and Kobe in full-flight, it certainly is one of the most entertaining.

Date: June 6, 2001
Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Teams: Los Angeles Lakers v Philadelphia 76ers
Coaches: Phil Jackson and Larry Brown

8. Magic Plays Centre

With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the game’s greatest ever scorer and the 1980s Lakers’ number one player ruled out with injury, a rookie point-guard with a spectacular name stepped up to the plate. What follows is not only one of the best NBA games of all time, but one of the strangest. Truly Magic.

Date: May 16, 1980
Venue: The Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Teams: Philadelphia 76ers v Los Angeles Lakers
Coaches: Billy Cunningham and Paul Westhead

9. Reggie Miller Silences New York

Forget what you think you know about Reggie Miller. Before he was a goofy commentator providing obvious insights, the Indiana Pacer’s champ was a stone-cold killer. His effort against New York back in 1994 is a testament to that.

Date: June 1, 1994
Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Teams: New York Knicks v Indiana Pacers
Coaches: Pat Riley and Larry Brown

10. Showtime at the Garden

Before the 1985 NBA Finals, the Lakers had never beaten the Celtics in a championship series. They entered Game 6 with their best chance to do so but came up against a stacked team led by Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. One of the fiercest battles in NBA history ensued.

Date: June 9, 1985
Venue: Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Teams: Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers
Coaches: K.C. Jones and Pat Riley

11. Ray Allen Moneyshot

Bang. One simple word that is forever etched into the minds of NBA fans across the world. Relive it in all its glory.

Date: June 18, 2013
Venue: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
Teams: Miami Heat v San Antonio Spurs
Coaches: Erik Spoelstra and Gregg Popovich

12. Malice at the Palace

Basketball’s most infamous moment. Not the best NBA game of all time, but undoubtedly one of the most significant. Over 15 years later, it’s still shocking to watch.

Date: 19 November 2004
Location: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan, United States
Venue: The Palace of Auburn Hills
Attendance: 22,076
Referees: Tim Donaghy; Ron Garretson; Tommy Nuñez, Jr.

13. Game 6 1994 NBA Finals

The Dream in his absolute prime, Hakeem Olajuwon absolutely destroyed teams with a signature smoothness. In Game 6 of the 1994 NBA finals, he came up against the might of Patrick Ewing in an all-out battle of the talented big-men.

Date: June 22, 1994
Venue: The Summit, Houston, Texas
Teams: Houston Rockets v New York Knicks
Coaches: Rudy Tomjanovich and Pat Riley

14. King James Crowned

In the Eastern Conference Finals of 2012, the basketball world finally saw Lebron James on full display. His battle against Boston’s Big 3 will forever go down as one of the best NBA games of all time.

Date: June 7, 2012
Venue: TD Garden, Boston Massachusetts
Teams: Boston Celtics v Miami Heat
Coaches: Doc Rivers and Erik Spoelstra

15. Game 7 2010 NBA Finals

Kobe’s Lakers came up against a stacked Boston Celtics team in the ultimate reimaging of the 80s Bird/Magic rivalry.

Date: June 17, 2010
Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Teams: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics
Coaches: Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers

15. Game 6 1998 NBA Finals

That shot. Simply iconic.

Date: 14 June 1998
Venue: Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
Attendance: 19,911
Teams: Chicago Bulls v Utah Jazz
Coaches: Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan
Referees: Dick Bavetta, Hue Hollins, Danny Crawford

Once you get through those, don’t stress. You can find literally thousands more NBA games via the Google Docs link below, which has best created by Reddit users online. Check it out and see if you agree with our choices for the best NBA games of all time.

Check it out

Still have questions? We’ve got you covered.

General FAQ

When was Michael Jordan’s flu game?

Michael Jordan's 'Flu Game' was Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. It occurred on June 11, 1997.

Where can I watch NBA games for free?

A vast majority of NBA games prior to 2013 are actually available on YouTube, including some otherwise rare games from the 60s and 70s.

What is the best NBA game of all time?

That question is debatable, but Game 5 of the 1975 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns is widely regarded as the premier game in history.

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Nick Hall

Nick Hall is the Editor-in-Chief of Man of Many and an accomplished journalist. He completed a Bachelor of Creative Industries at the Queensland University of Technology, with a double major in Journalism and Music. Prior to working at Man of Many, Nick spent two years as a journalist with Inside Franchise Business, focusing on small business, finance and legal reporting. In 2021, Nick was named B&T's Best of the Best Journalist of the Year. With an extensive background in the media industry, Nick specialises in feature writing, fashion, lifestyle and entertainment content. A qualified barber and men's stylist, Nick also holds a Cert III in Barbering from the Queensland Hairdressing Academy.