Five unusual NBA Finals moments
This year's NBA Finals between the Cavaliers and Warriors begins on Thursday. But while we can always count on Finals to deliver great individual performances and thrilling games, the NBA's biggest stage has also witnessed a number of strange moments over the years.
From O.J. Simpson to missed free throws, we rounded up five of the most bizarre moments in the last 30 years of the NBA Finals.
NBC's Finals broadcast cuts to the O.J. chase (1994)
June 17, 1994, was such an eventful sports day in American sports that an entire documentary was dedicated to it. The day featured Arnold Palmer's last round of professional golf, the start of the 1994 World Cup and a New York Rangers' Stanley Cup parade.
But what was to come that night led to one of the strangest moments in NBA Finals history.
While Game 5 between the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks was taking place at Madison Square Garden, Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson led police on his infamous white Ford Bronco chase. Earlier that day, Simpson was named the prime suspect of a double murder.
NBC, which broadcasted the Finals that year, simultaneously covered the chase and the game.
The Knicks, led by Patrick Ewing's 25 points and 12 rebounds, won Game 5 by a score of 91-84, but they ended up losing the series.
Missed free throws doom the Magic (1995)
Every NBA Finals has its fair share of crucial missed free throws, from the Jazz in 1997 to the Spurs in 2013. But Nick Anderson's free throw struggles in Game 1 of the 1995 Finals stand in a different class.
Only needing one free throw to essentially ice Game 1 for Orlando against the Rockets, Anderson clanked four straight all in the same possession.
It was Anderson who grabbed the offensive rebound following his first missed pair of free throws.
Following the misses, Houston's Kenny Smith nailed his seventh three-pointer to tie the game and send it to overtime.
The Rockets won 120-118 in overtime and ended up sweeping the Magic.
The Mavs' poorly-timed timeout (2006)
Like missed free throws, questionable coaching decisions are not an anomaly on the biggest stage. But an unwise timeout during Game 5 of the 2006 NBA Finals proved costly to the Dallas Mavericks against the Miami Heat.
With the series was tied 2-2, the Heat had the ball in the final seconds of Game 5, down just one point. Dwayne Wade was fouled—a controversial call—and had a chance to give Miami a one-point lead with 1.9 seconds left.
After Wade sunk the first free throw to tie the game, both Avery Johnson and forward Josh Howard seemed to signal for a timeout.
Howard later said he didn't actually call timeout, and that he was just signaling to his coach. But officials charged Dallas with a timeout, the Mavericks' last one of the game. As a result, they had to inbound the ball from the back court and try a half-court shot, which failed.
Dallas lost the game 101-100 and ended up losing the series to Miami.
Paul Pierce's miraculous injury recovery (2008)
Willis Reed walking through the tunnel and playing in Game 7 of the 1970 Finals has become one of the greatest moments in NBA history. On the contrary, Paul Pierce's injury saga in Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals is generally considered more odd than heroic.
With the Lakers leading the Celtics 62-58 in Game 1, Paul Pierce went to the floor in pain. Replays showed that Pierce's right leg making hard contact with Kendrick Perkins as he went up to block a shot.
Pierce was on the floor writhing in pain for some time before the Celtics forward was awkwardly carried off the court by his teammates with 6:49 left in the third quarter.
Pierce was soon spotted in a wheelchair. It appeared the injury was severe and that the All-Star forward was going to miss the rest of series.
But just a few minutes after sustaining the injury, Pierce skipped his way through the tunnel and back onto the court with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter.
Boston defeated the Lakers in Game 1 and proceeded to win the series in six games. Paul Pierce was named Finals MVP.
Security prepares for the Spurs to celebrate (2013)
The Miami Heat appeared to be imploding during Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. In the waning moments of regulation, the Heat went from being up three to down five in just over a minute. The 8-0 Spurs run was aided by two costly LeBron James turnovers.
With fewer than 30 seconds remaining and the Spurs up by five, it seemed as if San Antonio was well on its way to winning the title. Even security personnel began preparing for the celebration. Donning yellow polo shirts and carrying yellow security tape, they outlined the court after the Spurs grabbed a five-point lead.
Commentator Jeff Van Gundy took issue with security personnel positioning themselves so close to the floor.
"I don't like these security people being so close to Duncan as he's trying to inbound," Van Gundy said. "What do you think people are going to rush the floor if you're San Antonio fans in Miami? Get 'em off the floor."
There would be no Spurs championship celebration that night.
The Heat won in overtime after Ray Allen hit a game-tying three-pointer with five seconds remaining. The Heat won the series in seven games.