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Sorry Derrick Rose, these are the greatest buzzer-beating 3s in NBA history
Sorry Derrick Rose, these are the most clutch, pristine 3-pointers in NBA history.
Say what you will about Derrick Rose’s NBA return this season, there’s no denying that each of his impossibly wobbly clutch shots have you more and more impressed—even if you have to watch his landings with your hands covering your face in abject fear for his ankles made of talc. Tuesday’s one-handed, buzzer-beating 3-pointer that sent the Bulls to double overtime against the Dallas Mavericks was no different.
Or, if you like angles that make you realize just how much Rose loves defying death and doctor’s orders:
But while Rose might be 3-pointing his way to the top of the Eastern Conference, his shot doesn’t quite hold a candle to the NBA’s elite class of buzzer-beating 3-balls. Here’s the 10 best in league history.
10) The Rose Garden Miracle, Part 1
In 2008, when Brandon Roy and his Portland Trailblazers took on the Houston Rockets during the Yao Ming era, the Blazers were trailing the Rockets in overtime by a point after Ming scored a basket and a bonus from a foul shot. Roy hit one of the biggest shots in Trailblazer history—a 3-pointer from far beyond the line with only 0.8 seconds left on the clock, as the Blazers won 101-99.
9) The Rose Garden Miracle, Part 2
Six years later, Blazers star Damien Lillard would go on to recreate Roy’s exact shot in another spectacular buzzer-beating clutch shot in the first round of the 2014 Western Conference Finals. Ironically enough, the Blazers were facing the Rockets yet again. Down two points with 0.9 seconds left on the clock, Lillard raced over to exactly where Roy took his classic shot and knocked down a 3 with 0.8 left on the clock—giving the Blazers a 99-98 victory, before heading to a series win.
8) Billups, from half court
In the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals, the Detroit Pistons were down by three to the New Jersey Nets. With no timeouts left, Pistons star Chauncey Billups caught the inbounds pass, sprinted up court, and banked a shot from way back. The heave was good, the game tied at 88 points, and the Pistons were able to force their way into not one but three overtimes, before falling to the Nets. They’d later go on to win the series and the 2004 NBA title.
7) Mutombo’s block, and Jackson’s 50-footer
A Dikembe Mutombo story that doesn’t involve the NBA’s beloved Cookie Monster impersonator unleashing his trademark finger wag: Back in 1992, the Denver Nuggets were taking on the Phoenix Suns. After trailing the entire game, with less than four seconds left on the clock and tied up at 106, Mutombo blocked a Danny Manning layup, teammate Chris Jackson caught the deflection, and took a running 3 from far behind the half-court line, and sank a perfect shot. Nuggets won the game, 109-106.
6) Toni time
Ah, yes, the bow that bit Reggie Miller in the ass. Back in the ’90s, the Indiana Pacers and the Bulls’ storied rivalry came to head in a regular season game in 1994, when famed pot stirrer Miller bowed to Bulls fans in Chicago after draining a basket with 0.8 seconds left on the clock to give the Pacers a 95-93 lead. How did the Bulls respond to Miller’s curtsy? With Toni Kukoc hitting a catch-and-shoot dagger at the 0.7-second mark to seal the Bulls’ 96-93 victory. The Bulls would go on to sweep the Pacers in the regular season, with Bulls small forward Scottie Pippen bowing to the defeated Pacers crowd on the last matchup.
5) Stockton sends Jazz to the Finals
Continuing the grand tradition of men in short shorts nailing buzzer beaters, John Stockton would send his Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals for the first time after hitting a Western Conference series-winning shot against Charles Barkley’s Houston Rockets in 1997. Tied at 100, Stockton lobbed the shot from the top of the key, giving the Jazz a 103-100 win.
4) Miller’s impossible 3
Miller would get retribution four years later when facing the Bulls in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. With the Pacers down two and 2.9 seconds left on the clock, and Miller hobbling on a sprained ankle, he blocked Michael Jordan with a shove that almost sent him back to Chicago and shot off an impossible 3 with 0.7 seconds left on the clock. The Pacers won 94-93 and Miller won the MVP of Best Celebratory Twirls.
3) Nick the Quick buries San Antonio
No buzzer beater 3-pointer list is complete without Lakers guard Nick Van Exels’ clutch Western Conference Semifinals performance against the San Antonio Spurs in 1995. After hitting a surprise 3 near the end of regulation to tie up the game 88-88 and force an overtime, the Lakers trailed the Spurs by a point with 12 seconds left and on a Lakers possession. After some typical Elden Campbell below-the-basket tomfoolery, Lakers center Vlade Divac popped the rebound to Nick the Quick, who shot a running 3-pointer as time ran out, clinching the win 98-96. In further news, this game was 19 years ago, and you are officially old.
2) From behind the glass…
When the Washington Wizards were still the Washington Bullets, D.C. crime rates be damned, shooting guard Jeff Malone lobbed off one of the greatest shots in NBA history in 1984, versus the Detroit Pistons. With the Bullets trailing by two, Malone was sprinting to the baseline and lobbed off a near-impossible corner shot from almost behind the glass. Even more improbably, it went in. Bullets won the game, 103-102.
1) Big Shot Rob’s finest hour
Back in the height of the Lakers’ early 2000s dynasty, they faced their West Coast rivals the Sacramento Kings in the 2002 Western Conference Finals—a series that still stands in NBA history as one of the greatest playoff series of all time, despite allegations of referee corruption. The action stretched over the full seven games, with the last four of the series being won in the closing seconds, but it was Lakers power forward Robert Horry’s buzzer beater in Game 4 that takes our top spot for best 3-point buzzer beater in NBA history. Under pressure, and down by two, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal both missed layups. Former Lakers center and human jellyfish Vlade Divac blocked Bryant’s shot and attempted to swat the ball out of bounds to run out the clock, but instead swatted it right to Horry, who sank this beaut of a buzzer beater from the top of the key. The Lakers won 100-99 and would go on to beat the Kings, and then the New Jersey Nets, clinching their second three-peat NBA championship in franchise history.
Screengrab via GD’s Extra Highlights/YouTube
Beejoli Shah is a reporter and editor whose work focuses on entertainment, internet culture, and social justice. Her work has been published in Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan, Fusion, New York Magazine, the Guardian, and BuzzFeed, among others.