Rich 10 NBA Moments of the 2010s

10. Kawhi’s Buzzer Beater vs Philadelphia(May 12, 2019)

The killer of superteams. Kawhi Leonard is the guy players fear most because he is as emotionless as athletes can get but he is a cold-blooded killer. After leaving the San Antonio Spurs following absences and, what he considers, questionable treatment, Leonard joined the Toronto Raptors in a one-off that culminated in the lone NBA title for Canada. The road was not easy for Toronto as they were pushed to the brink in a seven-game series thriller with the Philadelphia 76ers. In a tie game with only seconds to go, Leonard took it upon himself to avoid elimination in one of the most clutch shots in NBA history. – Cameron Richardson

9. 2013 Nets Trade 

In 2013, the Brooklyn Nets sent a bunch of expiring contracts and three first round draft picks, that turned into four, to the Boston Celtics and in return, received three aging stars in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. The draft picks for the Celtics turned into James Young, Jaylen Brown and young star Jayson Tatum. The Celtics would then turn from an aging roster with little potential in 2014 to a perennial Eastern Conference contender. Tatum and Brown are in for the long haul, and the Celtics have made the playoffs each of the last five seasons, and have won five series during that time. 

For the Nets, this blew up in their faces. Terry never played for the Nets due to a knee issue, and Pierce and Garnett was out of Brooklyn within three years. All the Nets had to show for the trade was a narrow first-round series win over the Toronto Raptors in 2014, and then was promptly eliminated by the Miami Heat. Then in 2015, they barely made the playoffs as an eight seed and was eliminated by Atlanta in the first round. Then, for the next three seasons, the Nets were in the basement of the Eastern Conference 

What’s so significant about this is it made the Boston a yearly contender in the Eastern Conference, and it left the Nets stuck for a few years. Luckily, their brilliant GM, Sean Marks, was able to build talent with lower draft picks and solid free agents, and the Nets are a playoff team with Kyrie Irving and will get Kevin Durant next season. But the fact that such a lopsided trade like this happened and turned around the fortunes of an entire franchise is why this belongs on this list. – Sean Clark

8. Linsanity 

NBA Champion Jeremy Lin was the greatest player in NBA history for a span of about two weeks in February of 2012. Being on the dreadful New York Knicks, Lin decided to make his mark on the league by leading his team to victories and having some signature moments as well. He scored 38 points on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer against the Toronto Raptors. That would be it because Lin would undergo season-ending surgery and Lin was never able to find stardom again. At least he has a ring. – Cameron Richardson

7. Klay Thompson 37 Points in a quarter

On Janaury 23, 2015, Golden Warriors’ shooting guard Klay Thompson put on an historic shooting performance, shooting 13-13 from the field, 9-9 from 3-point range, and 2-2 from the free throw line, and finished with 37 points. Oh yeah, this was all in the 3rd quarter of the Warriors’ 126-101 win over the Sacramento Kings. Thompson finished the game with 52 points. 

What’s legendary about this is not only is 37 points in a quarter an NBA record, breaking George Gervin’s previous record of 33, but Klay did not miss once in that quarter. There was a play where he was fouled on the floor and he chucked up a shot anyways, hoping it would count, and despite the long distance, he made it. It didn’t count but it goes to show that Thompson literally could not miss during that quarter.

This displayed the three-point revolution that the Golden State Warriors have led during the second half of this decade. Before Golden State dominated with three point shooting, the NBA had a heavy emphasis on positional basketball and centers were very valuable. Now, the NBA is all about court spacing and shooting the basketball well. The 2015 Warriors began the revolution and this jaw-dropping shooting display by Klay Thompson was the highlight. – Sean Clark

6. KD signing with the Warriors(Jul. 4, 2016) 

“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”

Kevin Durant did not abide by those words as on Independence Day in 2016, Mr. Durant abandoned the Oklahoma City Thunder and their loyal fanbase to join the NBA’s version of the Galactic Empire, Golden State Warriors.

From there on, Durant would go from a beloved hero who would one day carry OKC to the promised land with Russell Westbrook to an outcast who joined the team that came back down 3-1 against him in the previous playoffs.

This move also led to the trend of superstars taking big time money and building the superteams that we know of today. While LeBron’s was the catalyst, KD’s was the most heinous. – Cameron Richardson

5. Derrick Rose tearing his ACL

Derrick Rose became the youngest NBA MVP in the league’s history at the age of 23. After leading the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, the future looked bright for Rose and the Bulls. They achieved a number one seed the following regular season, and once agian, were poised to challenge the Big 3 in Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals once again. However, tragedy struck before this could happen. 

On April 28, 2012, the Bulls hosted the eight-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the first-round of the playoffs. It was going as expected. The Bulls were up 12 late in the 4th quarter, and Rose was still in the game inexplicably. He drove in and when he planted his left-leg, he went down in pain and it was revealed he had torn his ACL. He missed the playoffs, the following season, and then got injured again and missed all of the season after that. The Bulls would lose the series to Philadelphia, and Rose would never again regain his MVP form. 

What puts this on the list is the shock and impact this would have on the NBA. First, number ten on this list would not have happened as the Bulls most likely would have played Miami instead of Boston. Also, the Bulls were set to be at the top of the Eastern Conference for years with the league’s youngest MVP entering his prime. Instead, the Bulls had a couple years of getting eliminated in the first and second round of the playoffs before entering a rebuild they are currently going through. 

Lastly, Rose lost his MVP form. While he has worked very hard to recover and is now a solid player for the Detroit Pistons, it is not the same as he was before the injury. This injury derailed what could have been a legendary career and a long-stretch of success for the Chicago Bulls. – Sean Clark

4. Kobe’s Final Game 

One of the most bittersweet days of mine and Laker fans lives was this day. We never imagined the day would come where Kobe Bryant would never play basketball again but that was the case in the 2016 NBA season. Kobe received the farewell tours from all NBA teams and received standing ovations and “Kobe, Kobe” chants from the opposing crowds. Even the biggest haters of Bryant could not hold back the tears of seeing the greatest player of our generation call it a career. How could Bryant end his career? Only in the most Kobe way possible with an unfathomable and remarkable 60-point performance to say goodbye. – Cameron Richardson

3. Game 7 2016 NBA Finals

June 19, 2016 is a day that will go down in basketball history as one of the league’s greatest days. The Cleveland Cavaliers took on the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals in Oakland, California. The score was tied at 89 with two minutes to go. What would happen next is two of the most iconic plays in NBA history. First, when Andre Iguodala went up for a go-ahead layup, LeBron James came from nowhere and with near-superhuman athleticism, blocked the layup. Then a minute later, Kyrie Irving drained the game-winning three-point shot in league MVP Steph Curry’s face. 

This led to the Cleveland Cavaliers first NBA championship in their franchise history, and LeBron fulfilling his promise to bring a championship back to his hometown team after he left them in 2010 (more on that later). Also, it was an historic win as the Cavs became the first team in NBA history to win the NBA Finals after trailing 3-1. It was also incredible due to the fact they were facing a Warriors team that had just set the record for most wins in a regular season with 73. 

The impact on this was huge. First, LeBron cemented himself as one of the greatest players of all-time and got his iconic moment. Every Cavs fan that hated him for leaving Cleveland back in 2010, forgave him and got a championship to celebrate. It concluded one of the greatest redemption stories sports has ever seen.

Also, it caused the moment that is number six on this list, Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors on July 4, 2016. The Warriors needed to sign Durant to beat a fully healthy Cavaliers team led by LeBron. It’s because of that game that caused that signing to occur. The Warriors would dominate with Durant and the seeds of that can be traced back to the day two of the most iconic moments in NBA history would occur. – Sean Clark

2. Ray Allen’s 3

How? Just how?

The San Antonio Spurs had the 2013 NBA Finals in the bag at American Airlines Arena in Game 6. All they needed was one more defensive stop to finish the job. With 18 seconds left and fans storming out of the arena, the Heat needed one miracle three-pointer to save their title hopes. However, LeBron had a chance to save the day and missed his attempt like he always does in this situation but Miami was able to get the offensive rebound and the rest is history. – Cameron Richardson

1. The Decision

“I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.” You would be hard-pressed to find many more iconic sentences in all of sports history then what LeBron James told a national television audience on July 8, 2010. 

LeBron, fresh off a humiliating second-round loss to the Boston Celtics as a number one seed, decided to leave Cleveland, his hometown team after his front-office failed to surround him with enough talent to compete for a championship. The pursuit for his services was huge. Seven teams made serious offers for him and it became a frenzy with so many twists and turns in the pursuit. NBA fans were following the pursuit and it brought a lot of national attention to the league.

When he decided, it sent shockwaves throughout the league. The city of Cleveland was very angry at this and many fans suddenly started burning their LeBron jerseys. Also, star free agent center Chris Bosh decided to sign with the Heat after LeBron’s decision, and this started the super team trend, where superstars would team up together for a championship. It formed the Big 3 of LeBron, Dwayne Wade and Bosh. 

Also, this changed the entire balance of power in the NBA Eastern Conference. The Miami Heat turned into the top team of the conference and would appear in the finals the next four seasons, winning two of those trips. 

The start of the super team trend that affects the NBA even now, and the shock and event of “The Decision” makes it the top NBA moment of the decade. – Sean Clark

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