Top 10 NBA Buzzer Beater Moments



Top 10 NBA Buzzer Beater Moments

VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: Andy Hammersmith
This is a salute to the most important, impressive, and acrobatic buzzer beaters in basketball. For this list, we'll be looking at the most epic last-minute shots in NBA history. Our countdown includes Dwyane Wade Does It Again, Jerry West's 60-Foot Shot, Kawhi Leonard Clinches the Series, and more!

Top 10 NBA Buzzer Beaters Moments

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 NBA Buzzer Beaters Moments.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most epic last-minute shots in NBA history. This is a salute to the most important, impressive, and acrobatic buzzer beaters in basketball.

Did we miss your favorite buzzer beater? Let us know in the comments below.

#10: Dwyane Wade Does It Again (2019)

Even in his final years in the league, Dwyane Wade was no stranger to iconic plays. In the last ten seconds of this game, the shooting guard turned an almost-turnover into a game winner. Getting a pass from Dion Waiters, Wade juggled the ball after a block from Jordan Bell. What happened next was nothing short of a wild and truly unexpected move. The Golden State Warriors were unable to stop him, even with Kevin Durant’s help. Nothing short of determined, the Heat's star player managed to win the game in surprise fashion. Shutting down the competition, the veteran made the younger guys take notice of his playmaker skills.

#9: Ralph Sampson Takes the Rockets to the Finals (1986)

It’s often said that basketball games come down to the final minutes, but what about one second? In a daring move for the Houston Rockets, they inbounded the ball to Ralph Sampson in the final possession of the game. With a spin move, he delivered one of the defining shots of his career. Sampson’s lightning-fast reflexes sent his team to the 1986 NBA Finals. Shutting down the Los Angeles Lakers’ dynasty, the Rockets proved they could deliver in a split-second play. Blink and you missed it, the quick-thinking play verified the towering player's incredible talents.

#8: Damian Lillard Defeats the Thunder (2019)

During the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder faced off in a thrilling showdown. All tied up, both teams sat at 115 points with Portland getting the ball. Calm and collected, Trail Blazer Damian Lillard dribbled and ran the clock down. With nothing but pure confidence, he fired a long three-pointer to win the game. With this clutch move, Lillard made the case for his dominant presence in the West. He also secured his team a spot in the next round of the playoffs, sending the Thunder back home.

#7: Jerry West’s 60-Foot Shot (1970)

For the 1970 NBA Finals, the New York Knicks traveled to Los Angeles to play the Lakers in game three. While the home team was down by two, their last ditch effort to tie the game was in the hands of Jerry West. His half-court shot sends the game into overtime, along with putting him into the list of the greatest basketball highlights ever. It’s no wonder that West became the inspiration for the NBA logo. Even if the Knicks won, West’s shot would live on as one of the luckiest in professional basketball history.

#6: John Stockton Shoots His Shot (1997)

With the Utah Jazz getting the ball, it all came down to 2.8 seconds in the 1997 Western Conference Finals. Normally known for his assist record, John Stockton finally got a chance to show basketball fans his clutch shooting abilities. Just before the final buzzer, the point guard sent a three-pointer through the net. Launching the ball over Charles Barkley, the surprise action pulled the wool over Houston's eyes. Putting the Jazz into the NBA Finals, this move meant a lot to the city of Utah. In one of the many moments that made him a hall-of-famer, this buzzer beater solidified Stockton’s mythic status in the league.

#5: Morris Peterson at Half-Court (2007)

This regular season matchup between the Raptors and Wizards probably looked all but over as Gilbert Arenas sank two foul shots. With 3.8 seconds on the clock, Toronto launched the ball down court, but Washington’s Michael Ruffin recovered it. Thinking they had won, Ruffin threw the ball in the air to either celebrate or run out the clock. Toronto's Morris Peterson caught it and made a final field goal attempt at the buzzer. Tying up the game, his positive momentum propelled the squad to an overtime win over the Wizards. Even though his time with the team was drawing to a close, Peterson provided one of the most rewind-worthy moments in Raptors’ history.

#4: Derek Fisher’s Surprise Left-Hander (2004)

With the series tied at two games each, the Los Angeles Lakers faced off against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals. The Spurs got the ball with 5.4 seconds left, with center Tim Duncan dropping a decisive two-point fade away. It almost looked like the end for the Lakers with only 0.4 seconds on the clock. With only a prayer, Derek Fisher threw up a left-hander. Silencing the home crowd, the final shot secured a win for the away team. Tipping the semifinals in their favor, the Lakers built off of Fisher’s amazing move and won the series in the next game.

#3: Devin Harris Throws a Hail Mary (2009)

Like many basketball games before it, this Nets and Sixers game ended in nail-biting fashion. With Philadelphia up by one after a foul shot, New Jersey had the ball with only 1.8 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. Point guard Devin Harris got the ball, driving down the floor with all the energy he could muster. Instead of getting fouled, the point guard launched the ball just before crossing the half-court line. As the buzzer rang out, the ball swished through the net in an unbelievable move. Bringing Nets’ fans to their feet, Harris’ miracle lob defied all odds as it secured the win. That day, the 2009 All-Star demonstrated that occasionally a Hail Mary is worth the effort.

#2: Kawhi Leonard Clinches the Series (2019)

In the 2019 season, Kawhi Leonard led the Toronto Raptors into a tense series with the Philadelphia 76ers. With Toronto getting the ball in the final seconds, they needed one clean shot to end it all. Giving the ball to Leonard, the star player dribbled into the corner and launched a shot and a prayer at the basket. As intense as any moment in recent NBA history, the ball bounced four times around the rim. Everyone watched with bated breath as the ball finally rolled through the net. Perhaps the most amazing move in Raptor's history, the small forward’s off-balance delivery sent his team to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Robert Horry Becomes Big Shot Bob (2002)
The Laker Proved to Everybody Why He Was “Big Shot Bob” With This Clutch Shot

Damian Lillard Wins the Series (2014)
Lillard Decided This Series Against the Rockets with a Decisive Three-Pointer

DeMar DeRozan Goes Back to Back (2021/2022)
DeRozan Pulled Double Duty in a Pair of Game-Winning Buzzer Beaters

Ja Morant’s Unbelievable Toss (2022)
Morant Caught a Full-Court Pass & Heaved the Ball in With One Fluid Motion

Devin Booker Over Paul George (2020)
Booker Beat the Buzzer & Sailed the Ball Over NBA All-Star Paul George

#1: Michael Jordan's Iconic Jumper (1989)

In one of Michael Jordan's most memorable plays, he delivered this iconic buzzer beater. At the end of a game between the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the legend got the ball with seconds left. Jordan floated in the air for what felt like forever. He tossed the ball over Cavalier Craig Ehlo's outstretched hand, draining the game-winning shot. A triumphant fist-pump from the six-time champion let everybody know that he meant business. Defying the laws of gravity, this legendary move became one of the greatest highlights in NBA history. Despite all of the player’s many accomplishments, this buzzer beater was the turning point for his record-breaking career.