NBA: Ranking the 10 most important games from the last 10 years

NBA former Heat forward LeBron James (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
NBA former Heat forward LeBron James (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) /
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2. 2016 NBA Finals – Game 7: Cavaliers vs. Warriors

In Ohio this game is responsible for “the block”, “the shot”, and “the stop”, and if I close my eyes I think I can hear Mike Breen calling each one of them.

Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals was the most memorable game of the decade in my mind and had giant legacy impacts on both sides.

For the Warriors, a win caps off their record 73-win season and makes them a possible frontrunner in the debate of the greatest teams in NBA history. A loss makes them a punchline as the only team to ever blow a 3-1 lead in the Finals for the next several years.

For the Cavaliers (specifically LeBron James), it was a chance to dethrone one of the great teams in NBA history and end their city’s championship drought. It was also a chance for LeBron James to silence his few remaining doubters and prove he didn’t need Dwyane Wade to win a title.

The last four-plus minutes of this game were the most captivating four-plus minutes of awful basketball that has ever been played. In the final 4:39 of this game, these two offensive juggernauts combined to make one basket between them, but it was impossible to look away. You could feel the tension coming through the TV screen with every missed shot and fumbled turnover.

And then, of course, LeBron blocks Andre Iguodala’s layup, Kyrie Irving hits his famous 3-pointer over Steph Curry’s outstretched hand, and the Cavs escape Oracle Arena with an NBA Finals victory and the greatest achievement on LeBron’s hall-of-fame resumé.

The result also changed the landscape of the NBA for the next three years. After the loss, Draymond Green called Kevin Durant and recruited him to Golden State, assembling arguably the most dominant team in NBA history.

A short term setback for the Warriors ended up resulting in three more Finals appearances and two more championships, making them the most dominant team of the decade and making LeBron James’ mission for multiple championships in Cleveland nearly impossible.