The NBA has a long and storied history, filled with shocking feats of athleticism, boneheaded moments, and a serious lack of impulse control. On this list, you’ll find epic fails, poor sportsmanship, clutch performances, and jaw dropping brilliance.
Here are 10 crazy moments in NBA history.
10. Dennis Rodman Kicks a Camera Man
We start this list off with a player who could honestly have his very own top-10 list of crazy moments. Long before becoming BFFs with the supreme leader of North Korea, Dennis Rodman established himself as one of the most colorful players in the NBA. However, back in 1997, Rodman really got crazy after tripping over cameraman Eugene Amos in a game against the Timberwolves. Rodman, who fell to the floor, lost his temper and kicked Amos right in the groin (Amos also did his fair share of acting after the kick, to be fair). Rodman was suspended for 11 games and eventually settled with Amos out of court, but this event lives on as one of the stranger moments in NBA history.
9. Willis Reed Rallies the Knicks to Victory
The Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks found themselves tied 3-3 going into Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals. Things weren’t looking too good for the Knicks though. All-star center Willis Reed had suffered a muscle tear in his right thigh during Game 5, apparently being done for the season. After watching his team lose Game 6 from the sidelines, Reed shocked everyone in Madison Square Garden when he hobbled out for warm-ups before Game 7. Despite his severely injured leg, Reed ended up starting, and even scored the first four points for the Knicks. His presence on the court provided his team with an emotional rush, giving them the confidence to ultimately win the game, and the championship.
8. Iverson Talks About Practice
The NBA has provided fans with many amazing quotes and sound bites over the years, but back in 2002, Allen Iverson gave us one of the most memorable press conferences of all-time while playing for the Philadelphia 76ers. When questioned about his dedication to practice, a common critique of the all-star guard, Iverson unleashed his epic rant, stating, “We sitting in here — I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean, listen: We talking about practice. Not a game. Not a game. Not a game. We talking about practice. Not a game. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game. We talking about practice, man.” In all, the word ‘practice’ was dropped 22 times.
7. Argentina Topples the USA in the 2004 Olympics
Okay, so this didn’t occur in an NBA game, per se, but the implications for the future of basketball in the United States was huge. The U.S. had long been known for their dominance in Olympic Basketball, especially after allowing NBA players to partake in the 1992 Olympic Games. In 2004, the U.S. had once again put together a star-studded roster, and were favored to take home the gold. However, in the semi-finals Team USA went up against an Argentinian team led by NBA star Manu Ginobili, ultimately losing and having to settle for an immensely disappointing bronze medal. It was a significant moment, as it seemingly represented a power-shift as the rest of the world finally began to catch up to the U.S. in basketball.
6. Charles Barkley Spits on a Little Girl
Remember, Charles Barkley is not a role model (even by his own admission). Still, as one of the more recognizable ambassadors of the game, it is easy to forget that Sir Charles was a fiery, passionate player who occasionally lost his cool on the court. One such example came in 1991 in a game against the New Jersey Nets. Upset at the racial heckling of a Nets fan, Barkley lashed out by trying to spit on him. Unfortunately, Barkley missed, and his spit hit a little girl sitting courtside. Barkley was suspended for a game and fined $10,000. This story has a happy ending though. Barkley ultimately befriended the girl and made sure she and her family had tickets to many future games.
5. It’s Miller Time!
For a time in the 1990s, perhaps no person was more hated in New York City than Reggie Miller. The New York Knicks and Miller’s Indiana Pacers met in the playoffs a total of 6 times between 1993 and 2000, fueling one of the better rivalries in sports, and routinely pitting Miller squarely against prominent Knicks fan Spike Lee. This rivalry culminated into a truly epic performance by Miller in Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals. With the Pacers down 6 points with only 18.7 seconds left in the game, Miller was able to miraculously score 8 points in 9 seconds, capping off one of the quickest rallies in postseason history. The Pacers would ultimately win the series.
4. Malice at the Palace
On November 19, 2004, at The Palace of Auburn Hills, home of the Detroit Pistons, one of the most infamous brawls in the history of the league took place. With only 45.9 seconds left in the game, a fight broke out on the court between several Pistons and Pacers players. However, it was after that initial fight that things really got crazy. While Pacers player Ron Artest was lying on the scorer’s table, a fan threw a drink from the stands at him. This led Artest to enter the crowd, sparking a massive brawl between players and fans that leaked out onto the court. In the aftermath, nine players were suspended for a total of 146 games. Five players were charged with assault, and eventually sentenced to a year of probation and community service. Five fans also faced criminal charges. The brawl ultimately led to an increase in security at NBA games, and a limit to the sale of alcohol in games.
3. Derek Fisher’s .4-Second Comeback
How long does it take to catch a basketball, turn, and shoot it? Well, Derek Fisher answered that question back in Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals. Fisher’s Lakers were playing the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. With the series tied at 2, both teams were after that crucial go-ahead victory. With 11 seconds left in the game, Kobe Bryant hit a jump shot to put the Lakers up 72-71. Not to be outdone, Tim Duncan then made a fadeaway 18-footer over Shaquille O’Neal to give the Spurs a 73-72 lead with 0.4 seconds on the clock. After three consecutive time-outs, Gary Payton finally was able to inbound the ball for the Lakers, finding Fisher who proceeded to hit a game winning turn-around shot as time expired. Fisher ran off the court, unsure if the shot would count. After a long look on video by the referees, it was determined that the basket was good. The Lakers closed out the Spurs in Game 6.
2. Vince Carter’s “Dunk of Death”
This is another moment that didn’t necessarily occur during an NBA game, but it goes down as one of the great plays in basketball history. In the 2000 Olympics, Vince Carter executed perhaps the greatest in-game dunk anyone has ever seen. During the gold medal game against France, Carter stole the ball and drove towards the hoop – the only problem was that 7’2” Frédéric Weis of France stood in his way. That apparently didn’t matter to the man nicknamed Vinsanity, who jumped over the head of the towering Frenchman to throw down a nasty slam. In France they call it “le dunk de la mort.” Here in the U.S., it’s called “the dunk of death.” Weis, who was drafted by the Knicks as the 15th overall pick in of the 1999 draft, never played in the NBA, but quickly became known as “that guy Carter jumped over.”
1. Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-Point Game
There were no video recordings of the game, but what took place on March 2, 1962, in Philadelphia is still talked about today. It was on that date that NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors set the league single-game scoring record against the New York Knicks, putting together one of the most famous performances in sports history. It was in this game that Chamberlain put up a mind boggling 100 points. What really makes this stat impressive is that less than 10 year prior, the league was actually in serious trouble as it struggled to attract fans amidst low-scoring, boring games. The introduction of a shot clock sped up the game, paving the way for high scoring games like this to take place. Chamberlain’s 100 point masterpiece has yet to be matched.
Disagree with our list of crazy moments in NBA history? What would you add? What would you omit? Let us know in the comments below.