Game 7 highs and lows for Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James
Monday night’s contest between the Heat and Pacers will mark just the fourth Game 7 of LeBron James’ 10-year career.
Here’s a quick side-by-side statistical look at how James has fared in his previous Game 7s compared to Bulls guard Michael Jordan and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, plus Game 7 career highlights and lowlights for all three players.
Game 7 Highlights
Michael Jordan: MJ famously never needed a Finals Game 7 to secure his six championships. His 42-point outburst against the Knicks in the 1992 Eastern Conference semifinals pushed the Bulls into the Eastern Conference finals, where they defeated the Cavaliers in six games. From there, Chicago defeated Portland in the 1992 Finals to repeat as champions for the second title of Jordan’s career.
Kobe Bryant: Bryant has played in more Game 7s than both Jordan and James, including a dramatic comeback against the Blazers in 2000 and an overtime thriller against the Kings in 2002. While Bryant’s lob to Shaquille O’Neal against Portland is one of the NBA’s most-replayed highlights, the premier Game 7 moment of Bryant’s career has to be the Lakers’ 2010 Finals victory over the Celtics, even if he shot just 6-for-24 en route to the fifth title of his career.
LeBron James: The only Game 7 victory of James’ career is one to remember. The Heat capped off a sensational back-and-forth Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics with a dominant second-half performance, outscoring Boston 55-35 after halftime. James tallied a game-high 31 points, 12 rebounds and two assists to finish off the Celtics, who got a triple-double from Rajon Rondo. Miami advanced to the Finals, where they captured the first title of James’ career by defeating Oklahoma City in five games.
Game 7 Lowlights
Michael Jordan: The only Game 7 loss of Jordan’s career came against the Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals in 1990. Jordan scored a game-high 31 points but Scottie Pippen, suffering from migraines, shot just 1-for-10 in a 93-74 loss. Detroit went on to repeat as champions by besting the Blazers in five games. After being eliminated by Detroit in three straight seasons, Jordan led the Bulls to a four-game sweep over the Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference finals.
Kobe Bryant: Like Jordan, Bryant has only suffered one defeat in a Game 7, a first-round exit against the Suns in 2006. Bryant finished with a team-high 24 points but the high-octane Suns blew out the Lakers 121-90 thanks to 13 points and nine assists from Steve Nash and a 26-point explosion off the bench from Leandro Barbosa. Phoenix, coached by Mike D’Antoni, went on to advance to the Western Conference finals for the second straight season.
LeBron James: The King showed up, but nobody else did. The Pistons routed the Cavaliers 91-79 in Game 7 of an Eastern Conference semifinals series. In the final game of his first trip to the postseason, James scored 27 of Cleveland’s 61 points. Larry Hughes was the only other Cavalier to crack double figures, and he finished with just 10 points. Detroit advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the fourth straight season but lost to Miami in six games.