2. Michael Jordan
Game 3, 1992 Eastern Conference First Round
56 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks
Closing out a series on the road is almost always a difficult task, especially when facing off with a young, upstart, tough-talking team like the ’92 Heat. Made bold by loveable, trash-talking villains like Glen Rice and Steve Smith, Miami jumped out by 14 after the first quarter. Chicago, as they did all postseason, answered the bell.
Jordan hit for 56 points–teaming with Scottie Pippen for 87 total points on 32-for-53 shooting–and also had one of the single greatest highlights of his career. In an embarrassing undressing of Miami’s Keith Edwards, MJ stripped him, then lost him with a behind-the-back move on the other end, then lost him again with a crossover, THEN dunked on both Edwards and poor Alan Ogg. It was a fitting punctuation point to a fun three-game series that saw Jordan score 135 points.
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1. LeBron James
Game 7, 2013 NBA Finals
37 points, 12 rebounds
Once upon a time, fans had LeBron pinned as a choke artist. Were we really that stupid? Overlooking how he almost always comes through when it matters most, James had a lot riding on this game, and some made the case it was the most important game of his career. He responded the way he always has, and slayed San Antonio with one huge fourth quarter bucket after another, including the pull-up jumper that put Miami up four with less than 30 seconds left.
“I work on my game a lot throughout the offseason,” he’d say afterward. “I put a lot of work into it and to be able to come out on the floor here and (have) the results happen out on the floor is the ultimate. The ultimate. I’m at a loss for words.”
James joined Jordan as the only players to win back-to-back regular-season MVPs and Finals MVPs.
It was a fitting end to Miami’s best season in franchise history, and because of the impact and the stakes, this is an obvious choice for the top spot on this list.
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Let’s kill the cliché. Florida isn’t just for the old and retired and worn down, okay? Every once in a while, something exciting happens there.
Take this Saturday, for example. The Nike LeBron 11 will be dropping in the infamous South Beach colorway, which, if we know our history, should leave most sneakerheads foaming at the mouth. Right alongside that release is a South Beach collection from Jordan Brand, which will also feature the Flight 45 and True Flight.
Whether it’s sneakers or statistics, we’ll never stop comparing LeBron James and Michael Jordan. To celebrate the launch of those two South Beach collections this weekend, let’s do it again here with this countdown of the 10 best games the King and His Airness have had in the state of Florida.
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