Throughout the 2010s, NBA game-winning shots shocked the league and the world. Many shots shaped the reputations of these players to date. Each buzzer-beater and last minute shot has had the decade filled with excitement and amazement. Without a chronological order, simply because they are unrankable, let’s take a look at the top ten NBA shots of the decade.
5. Kyrie stuns Cleveland
Going 52 years and strong without a finals win, the Cleveland Cavaliers did not have a better opportunity other than 2016 with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. The Cavs had a remarkable 57-25 regular season, but not better than their rival Warriors with a 73-win season, the best record of all time. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant had a 3-1 lead in the series over the Cavs. LeBron, a native of Akron, Ohio, dreamed of bringing a championship to his hometown. But he wasn’t the only factor in this team’s success as superstar guard Kyrie Irving stood right next to him.
Tied 89-89 with a minute left in game seven, after an amazing comeback in the series by the Cavs, Irving was the man with the ball. Sizing up Curry and calling for an isolation, his ball handling skills could not be matched by any other NBA player. Irving did not one crossover between the legs but two, as he side-stepped Curry and put up a shot over his contested hand. Kyrie sank the shot with 53 seconds left, which then allowed the Cavs to end their 52-year finals drought with a win against Golden State.
4. Kawhi’s teardrop from Corner
Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors hosted the Philadelphia 76ers in game seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The series went back-and-forth until it came down to this game. Win big or go home. Kawhi’s contract would end at the end of this season, which meant there was a possibility of him moving on to another team. He knew it was time to give this game his all, and that is exactly what he did.
Tied at 90-90, the Raptors had possession. Center Marc Gasol inbounded the ball to Leonard, who caught it at the top of the key. Guarded by Ben Simmons, he had nowhere to go except the corner. As Leonard dribbled around the three point line, Joel Embiid saw a shot coming for the corner. Embiid left his defending assignment and ran to contest the teardrop fadeaway. Now, getting a shot over a 7’3” center in the NBA is no easy task, but it was for Leonard. His shot bounced on the rims four times, which felt like an eternity, until finally dropping in to cap off Leonard’s 15-point performance in the fourth quarter. The Raptors went on to win the NBA finals that year which was followed by Leonard’s departure out of Toronto to the Los Angeles Clippers.
3. Bosh to Allen Corner Swish
The definition of do-or-die came in Miami during the 2013 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. LeBron James, complemented by Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen led the Heat through an impressive playoff run. You could argue this team had the best talent in NBA history.
Down 3-2 in the series, the Heat were trailing the Spurs by three points as James put up a wishful three-pointer from the top of the key that bounced off the rim. Luckily for the Heat, rebound phenomenon Bosh was under the rim and the sharpshooter Allen also came crashing in from the corner for a potential rebound too. Bosh grabbed the rebound with nine seconds left on the clock, still down by three. Three-point specialist Allen stutter stepped back to his corner, quickly set his feet, and put up a miracle shot that was contested by Tony Parker. “BANG! Tie game, with five seconds remaining,” said commentator Michael Breen. This goes down as one of the best shots in NBA history, if not the all-time greatest.
2. LeBron Turnaround Fadeaway in Corner
Lebron James and the Cavaliers faced the Chicago Bulls in the conference semifinals in 2015. As the Cavs entered Chicago for game four, down 2-1 in the series, LeBron knew he could not let his squad go down 3-1. The Bulls had an 11 point lead late in the fourth quarter but were bound to choke, just like all Chicago sports.
With 1.5 seconds left, the name James’ was called. Shocker? I think not. Guarded by all-star defender Jimmy Butler, James was forced to put up a tough turnaround fadeaway off one leg buried in the corner. With no surprise, James hit the impossible shot to even the series at 2-2. LeBron and the Cavs went on to lose to the Golden State Warriors in the finals games 4-2.
- Damian Lillard sends the Portland Trail Blazers to Round 2
Damian Lillard, also known for his rapping abilities, can be clutch in scenarios that other players cannot. On May 2, 2014, the Portland Trail Blazers hosted the Houston Rockets in game six during the first round of the Western Conference Finals. A victory that would send the Blazers to the next round.
With less than a second left, Portland Head Coach Terry Stotts drew up a wheel play for Lillard as he came around two screens from the opposite wing. He caught the Rockets forward off guard as he quickly snatched the ball at the top of the key, drilling an incredible shot to win the game 99-98 and the series for the first time in 14 years.