Time for my Tuesday rankings, a tradition unlike any other. And with the NBA Finals now set in stone for 2022, Celtics vs Warriors, which I think has the chance to be an all-timer…it got me thinking…what are my favorite finals series of the past?
Now, disclaimer here…I’m only going as far back as I can remember, this is a personal list, so it would be disingenuous to add a Celtics/Lakers series from before I was alive. I was born in 1985 and probably started watching basketball in 1991 or ’92. So, maybe a better way to frame this- the TOP 5 NBA FINALS SERIES IN THE LAST 30 YEARS.
5- Lakers vs Celtics 2010- Let’s see, we’ve got all the ingredients of a great finals series here. Kobe Bryant, the Big 3 in Boston, a Game 7. Kobe wins his 5th ring after having to win the final 2 games of the series to claim victory. Really intense, I remember that one being a great watch.
4- Lakers vs Magic 2009- This one hits close to home because it was the only time in my Orlando existence the Magic were in the Finals. I wasn’t here in 1995, so this was such a unique experience for me. I just sort of adopted the Magic as my team, it was impossible not to get wrapped up in the excitement of the season. The series wasn’t all that great, but it just meant more so that’s why it lands on the list for me.
3- Pistons vs Lakers 2004- This was an incredible viewing experience for everyone who wasn’t a Lakers fan. Here you had this lunch pale team without 1 single SUPERSTAR in the Pistons, going up against a team with 4 future Hall of Famers. Kobe, Shaq, Malone, and Payton. And the Pistons won in 5. It was unforgettable, I just remember being so into that series.
2- Bulls vs Jazz 1998- While Bulls/Suns from ’93 was probably my first vivid NBA Finals memory, the one that stick with me the most to this day was Bulls/Jazz round 2. It had all the star power and theatre needed for a great finals series, and for me, really made me love the game of basketball on a whole other level. Bulls win 4-2 after the basketball moment of my childhood, the MJ “push off”. Iconic.
Number 1! Cavs vs Warriors 2016- This was the last 7 game NBA Finals series we’ve had, and it was amazing. I remember working at a bar when this series was being played and I was so happy when we’d have no one there, so I could just stand there and watch this. It was the LeBron return to Cleveland, giving them a title they’d been waiting for forever. Loved the Cavs/Warriors finals runs, 4 years in a row we had this…and this was by far the best of the best. Golden State was up 3-1 until LeBron went into God mode. LBJ scored 41 in games 5 and 6.