Now that the book has closed on the 2016-17 NBA season, it’s time to look back at the most memorable moments.
There were so many to choose from, but these 10 are the ones that stood out the most.
1. Kevin Durant drills go-ahead three-pointer over LeBron James in Game 3
Durant was huge for the Warriors in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 45 seconds left. It didn’t matter that James, a pretty good defender, had a hand in KD’s face, either.
The epic Game 3 winner is on display in the lobby of the Warriors headquarters, as seen in a Twitter post by Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle.
2. Kawhi Leonard hits clutch three-pointer, blocks James Harden to seal win
There aren’t very many players who can have an impact on both ends of the floor like Leonard does game after game for the San Antonio Spurs. In this particular sequence, Leonard showed why he’s considered the best two-way player in the game. After hitting a clutch 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to put San Antonio in the lead, the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year blocked Harden’s layup attempt from behind to seal the win.
3. James Harden sprints coast-to-coast for game-winner vs Nuggets
Harden is not known for his speed, but it took him less than five seconds to sprint the length of the floor for the game-winning layup against the Denver Nuggets. “I was running so fast,” Harden said after the game on March 20, via the Associated Press. “I felt like I was Usain Bolt.” It’s also worth noting that Harden saved the game for the Houston Rockets, too, when he batted away an inbounds pass to a Nuggets player near the basket as time expired.
4. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook put beef aside and hook up for Alley-Oop in All-Star game
You could cut the tension with a knife in the days leading up to the All-Star game. The question on everyone’s mind was: How will the interaction between Durant and Westbrook go when they share the floor together as teammates for the first time since their OKC days? The two still weren’t on speaking terms, but they looked to be on the same page on a alley-oop pass in the first quarter of the game. The reaction from the bench was priceless.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo drains step-back jumper at the buzzer to beat Knicks
Antetokounmpo made big strides in his fourth season, and looked every bit the part of a star in the making with highlight play after highlight play for the Milwaukee Bucks, including a game-winning buzzer-beater against the New York Knicks on January 4. Looking as cool as a cucumber under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, the 22-year-old calmly backed down his defender with the clock running down before stepping back and draining a clutch jumper to lift the Bucks over the Knicks 105-104.
6. Kyrie Irving sinks Warriors with game-winner on Christmas
We’ve come to expect clutch shots from Irving, and they tend to be on the more difficult side, like the game-winner against Golden State on Christmas Day. Klay Thompson couldn’t have done a better job defending on this play, but Irving still managed to drop a turnaround jumper over the Warriors’ defensive-stopper to deliver Cleveland Cavaliers fans a much-wanted Christmas gift.
7. Russell Westbrook sets triple-double record, hits game-winning three vs Nuggets
Westbrook was not satisfied with breaking Oscar Robertson’s triple-double record. He wanted the victory, too, and he got it with a 36-foot dagger to sink the Nuggets on April 9.
“Pure adrenaline, emotions running high, game-winning shot, it is something you dream about as a little kid to be able to do that on the road especially from that distance,” Westbrook said, via the Associated Press. “It is something you definitely will never forget.”
8. Dion Waiters hits dagger three-pointer over Klay Thompson to push Heat past Warriors
American Airlines Arena went nuts after witnessing Waiters’ dagger 3-pointer on Jan. 23 against Golden State. The Miami Heat guard made a couple of moves on Thompson before pulling up from straightaway and connecting on the deep ball with 0.6 seconds left. After the shot, Waiters struck a pose, admiring his handiwork.
9. Larry Nance Jr. climbs the ladder, posterizes Brook Lopez
The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t have much to celebrate this season after finishing with the third-worst record in the league, but Nance’s electrifying dunk against the Brooklyn Nets on December 15 was an exception. Nance, the son of 1984 Slam Dunk champion Larry Nance Sr., made dear old dad proud with a posterizing slam over Lopez, the Nets’ seven-footer.
10. John Wall spoils Celtics’ funeral game with hero three-pointer to force Game 7
When the Boston Celtics showed up to Verizon Center in all-back attire for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with a chance to close out the series, Wall was not having it. The star point guard lifted the Washington Wizards to a 92-91 victory with a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final seconds to force a Game 7.
“Don’t come to my city, wearing all black, talking about a funeral,” he told ESPN on the court after the game.