1. NBA FINALS, April 13, 1957, BOSTON CELTICS VS. ST. LOUIS
HAWKS, Boston Garden
During the second OT, long-legged Celtics rookie Bill Russell
disentangled himself from the basket support after missing a
layup, ran upcourt and blocked a shot by the Hawks' Jack Coleman.
"Greatest play I ever saw," said Tom Heinsohn. Established stars
Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman made only five of 40 shots, but the
kids (Russell had 19 points and 32 rebounds, Heinsohn 37 and 23
rebounds) led the way to a 125-123 victory.
2. NBA FINALS, May 5, 1969, BOSTON CELTICS VS. LOS ANGELES
LAKERS, the Forum
Before the game the Celtics' John Havlicek got his hands on a
script that described plans for a postgame Lakers celebration,
including a rendition of Happy Days Are Here Again to be played
by the USC band. When the Celtics walked out, they saw 5,000
balloons suspended in nets from the ceiling. Talk about the
best-laid plans. Don Nelson's jump shot, which bounded off the
back rim straight up into the air and down into the basket, was a
key shot in a 108-106 Celtics' win.
3. EASTERN DIVISION FINALS, APRIL 15, 1965, BOSTON CELTICS VS.
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS, Boston Garden
With the Celtics clinging to a 110-109 lead--coach Red Auerbach
had lit his traditional victory cigar when it was 110-103--the
Sixers' Hal Greer tried to inbound the ball to Chet Walker under
his own basket. But John Havlicek anticipated the play and was
immortalized with Johnny Most's gravelly voiced call: "Havlicek
stole the ball! Havlicek stole the ball! It's all over! It's all
4. NBA FINALS, May 8, 1970, NEW YORK KNICKS VS. LOS ANGELES
LAKERS, Madison Square Garden
True, the game wasn't really close, with the Knicks dominating
113-99 behind Walt Frazier, who scored 36 points and handed out
19 assists. But there's probably not a basketball fan alive who
hasn't seen the film of Willis Reed hobbling out on an injured
right thigh just before tip-off. Once he made his first two jump
shots, he really wasn't that effective, but the morale boost
jump-started the Knicks.
5. WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS, May 19, 1990, PORTLAND TRAIL
BLAZERS VS. SAN ANTONIO SPURS, Memorial Coliseum, Portland
Call it Willis Reed Redux. Though the hoops world in general
doesn't remember Blazers center Kevin Duckworth emerging from the
locker room to start the game after missing the previous six with
a broken hand, it's remembered in Portland. The Duck provided the
emotional lift, but the Blazers, who had trailed 97-90 with 2:32
left in regulation, needed five free throws from Clyde Drexler in
the final 26.2 seconds of OT to prevail 108-105.
6. EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS, May 22, 1988, BOSTON CELTICS
VS. ATLANTA HAWKS, Boston Garden
The game turned into such a two-man shootout that it's known as
"the Bird and Dominique Game." The Human Highlight Film,
Dominique Wilkins, was never better, pulling out an endless
variety of dunks, spin shots and jumpers banked high off the
board to finish with 47 points. But Larry Bird scored 20 of his
34 in the fourth period as the Celtics won 118-116.
7. EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS, May 11, 1986, MILWAUKEE BUCKS
VS. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS, Mecca, Milwaukee
The Sixers owned the Bucks until this day, having beaten
Milwaukee in the playoffs in four of the previous five seasons.
But Julius Erving missed an open 15-foot jumper with two seconds
left and Milwaukee held on for a 113-112 victory. --J.M.
1. PATRICK DIVISION SEMIFINALS, April 18, 1987, NEW YORK
ISLANDERS VS. WASHINGTON CAPITALS, Capital Centre, Washington
The Islanders, who had trailed in the series 3-1, fell behind 2-1
before Bryan Trottier's goal tied the game with 5:23 left in
regulation. The teams battled through 68 minutes and 47 seconds
of overtime, the longest NHL game in 44 years, before Pat
LaFontaine scored for the Islanders in the fourth OT.
2. EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL, May 27, 1994, NEW YORK RANGERS VS. NEW JERSEY DEVILS, Madison Square Garden
There wouldn't have been a '94 Stanley Cup for New York without
this thrilling 2-1 double-overtime win over the Devils. Long
after New Jersey's Valeri Zelepukin had scored with 7.7 seconds
left in regulation to send the game into overtime, the Rangers'
Stephane Matteau scored a wraparound goal that set up the
Rangers' date with Lord Stanley.
3. LEAGUE SEMIFINALS, April 2, 1939, BOSTON BRUINS VS. NEW YORK
RANGERS, Boston Garden
The first best-of-seven semifinal format in league history wasn't
decided until after 48 minutes of overtime, when a goal by Mel
Hill, a winger who had scored only 10 of them in the regular
season, gave the Bruins a 2-1 victory. Hill had scored two other
overtime goals in the series and will be forever remembered in
Boston as Sudden Death.
4. WALES CONFERENCE FINAL, May 10, 1979, MONTREAL CANADIENS VS.
BOSTON BRUINS, Montreal Forum
The Canadiens, in pursuit of their fourth straight Stanley Cup,
benefited from a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty. Guy Lafleur
took advantage of the infraction to score on a power play, and
Yvon Lambert won the game for Montreal in overtime 5-4.
5. STANLEY CUP FINAL, April 23, 1950, DETROIT RED WINGS VS. NEW
YORK RANGERS, The Olympia, Detroit
The underdog Rangers, who had to "host" Games 1 and 2 in Toronto
because the circus was encamped in Madison Square Garden, took
leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in Game 7, but couldn't capitalize on
several late scoring opportunities. A goal in the second overtime
by obscure winger Pete Babando gave the favored Red Wings a 4-3
6. STANLEY CUP FINAL, May 18, 1971, MONTREAL CANADIENS VS.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS, Chicago Stadium
Chicago's Hall of Fame goalie Tony Esposito allowed Jacques
Lemaire's shot from center ice to slip by him in the second
period. Meanwhile, Montreal rookie goalie Ken Dryden made one of
the greatest saves in Cup history when he got a pad in front of a
point-blank shot by Jim Pappin. Dryden was voted series MVP, but
the hero of Montreal's 3-2 victory was Henri (the Pocket Rocket)
Richard, who, after being benched earlier in the series, came
back to score with 2:34 left, then helped kill off two penalties.
7. CAMPBELL CONFERENCE FINAL, May 29, 1993, LOS ANGELES KINGS VS.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS, Maple Leaf Gardens
Critics were saying that Wayne Gretzky, at 32 and battling a back
injury, was too old to lead the Kings into the Stanley Cup finals
as he had once promised. But in the first period he scored a
shorthanded goal and set up Tomas Sandstrom for another goal. In
the second he put a slap shot over Felix Potvin, and in the third
he banked the puck off defenseman Dave Ellett to complete a hat
trick and give the Kings a 5-4 win. --J.M.
1. WORLD SERIES, Oct. 16, 1912, BOSTON RED SOX VS. NEW YORK
GIANTS, Fenway Park
A dropped fly ball by normally dependable Giants centerfielder
Fred Snodgrass came to be known as "the $30,000 Muff" (that was
the approximate difference between the winning team's and the
losing team's shares) as it helped the Red Sox to a 3-2 win over
Christy Mathewson. (Ironically, Snodgrass followed that error by
making a sensational catch on a ball hit by Harry Hooper.)
Wait--the Red Sox won a World Series? This was a long time ago.
So long ago, in fact, that Game 2, tied at 6-6, was called
because of darkness. So it was actually an eight-game seven-game
2. WORLD SERIES, Oct. 10, 1924, NEW YORK GIANTS VS. WASHINGTON
SENATORS, Griffith Stadium, Washington
It just seemed the Nats (as they were commonly known then) were
destined to win, which they did, 4-3 in 12 innings, but not
without the help of two bad-hop hits that jumped over the head of
third basemen Freddie Lindstrom and two key errors. Pitching in
relief, the immortal Walter (Big Train) Johnson got the win.
3. WORLD SERIES, Nov. 4, 2001, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS VS. NEW YORK
YANKEES, Bank One Ballpark, Phoenix
So, there's the best postseason closer in baseball holding a 2-1
lead going into the bottom of the ninth. Never mind what the
dandy D-Back duo of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson had done
earlier: The Yanks looked like a lock. But Mariano Rivera got
himself in trouble, and Luis Gonzalez won the game with a
bases-loaded bloop single over a drawn-in shortstop Derek Jeter.
Johnson got the win in relief.
4. WORLD SERIES, Oct. 13, 1960, PITTSBURGH PIRATES VS. NEW YORK
YANKEES, Forbes Field
For once the bounces didn't go the Pinstripers' way, specifically
an eighth-inning bad-hopper that nailed shortstop Tony Kubek in
the throat and set the stage for a Hal Smith home run that put
the Pirates ahead 9-7. The Yanks tied it in the ninth, but Bill
Mazeroski, better known for his glove and second-base pivot, led
off the bottom of the inning with the only walkoff Game 7 homer
in World Series history.
5. WORLD SERIES, Oct. 27, 1991, MINNESOTA TWINS VS. ATLANTA
Years before Bud Selig thought about contracting the Twins out of
existence, Minnesota's Jack Morris and the Braves' John Smoltz,
Mike Stanton and Alejandro Pena locked up in a scoreless duel for
9 1/2 innings. The Twins' Gene Larkin singled home Dan Gladden
with the winning run with one out in the bottom of the 10th to
give Minnesota its second World Series title in five seasons.
6. NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES, Oct. 14, 1992, ATLANTA
BRAVES VS. PITTSBURGH PIRATES, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
Shut out by Pirates ace Doug Drabek for eight innings, Atlanta
rallied for three runs in the ninth inning for a dramatic 3-2
victory. A two-run pinch-hit single by little-known and
not-long-remembered Francisco Cabrera drove home David Justice
and Sid Bream, who was one of the slowest runners in baseball
7. WORLD SERIES, Oct. 15, 1946, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS VS. BOSTON
RED SOX, Sportsman's Park, St. Louis
Boston shortstop Johnny Pesky hesitated before throwing home, and
Enos Slaughter scored all the way from first base on an
eighth-inning double by Harry (the Hat) Walker to give the Cards
a 4-3 victory. --J.M.