10. Patrick Ewing: Thanks to Michael Jordan's first retirement, the New York Knicks finally managed to make it to the NBA Finals in the summer of 1994. Unfortunately for Ewing, he had to face Hakeem Olajuwon, who had just been named league MVP (Ewing was fifth in MVP voting that season). Ewing's scoring and field goal percentage dropped dramatically (25 PPG to 19, and 50 percent shooting to a dismal 36). What's more, Olajuwon was lighting him up (27 PPG on 50 percent shooting). The Knicks lost a very close series, and Ewing's below-average performance was a big reason why, although not the biggest (see below).

9. Nick Anderson: In 1994-95, Anderson shot 70 percent from the foul line. But that didn't keep him from missing four straight freethrows at the end of Game 1 of the 1995 Finals. Those misses ended up costing his team the game. According to his Wikipedia bio, this event caused him to develop a "psychological disorder" regarding freethrows (indeed, his percentage eventually dropped to 40 percent).

8. Kobe Bryant: The Lakers won the 2000 Finals, but not because of Kobe Bryant. He averaged only 15 PPG on 36 percent shooting. He scored two points in Game 2 and eight points in Game 5. His defense on Reggie Miller was just as bad: Miller averaged 25 PPG on 48 percent shooting (both above his season averages).

7. Chauncy Billups: He's "Mr. Big Shot" huh? Then how do you explain his 3-for-8 (including 0-for-3 from three-point range) stinkbomb he threw up in Game 7 of the 2005 Finals?

6. Larry Johnson: Grandmama sunk the Pacers with his four-point play in the Eastern Conference Finals, but he was dreadful in the 1999 Finals. Game 1: 1-for-3, five points. Game 2: 2-for-12, five points. Game 3: 6-for-16, 16 points. Game 4: 2-for-8, five points. Game 5: 3-for-10, seven points.

5. Magic Johnson: Most NBA historians feel like the Lakers should have won the 1984 NBA Finals. In fact, they could have swept the series...had it not been for Magic Johnson. The Lakers had a chance to win Game 2 in regulation, but the Lakers didn't get a shot off because Magic dribbled out the clock. He then threw the ball -- and any chance at victory -- away twice at the end of the overtime session. In Game 4, he missed two freethrows that would have given the Lakers the lead. On the Celtics very next possession, Bird posted Johnson up and drained the go-ahead basket over Magic's outstretched hands. Instead of winning the series 4-0, the Lakers lost it 4-3. Johnson was so depressed afterward that Kevin McHale started calling him "Tragic Johnson."

4. Rik Smits: When the Pacers finally made it to the NBA Finals in 2000, somebody forget to tell Smits. He averaged a lousy 10 PPG on 39 percent shooting. Even worse, he averaged only four RPG, and had two games in which he grabbed only two rebounds. Did I meantion he was 7'4"? On defense, he let Shaq to score 38 PPG on 61 percent shooting. He shot 1-for-8 for two points in the deciding game.

3. Karl Malone: The Mailman didn't play that badly in the 1997 and 1998 Finals, and he had some bigtime games too. His 37 points in Game 3 of the '97 Finals brought Utah back from the brink, and his 39 points in Game 5 of the '98 Finals staved off elimination and gave the Jazz a chance to come back and win the title at home. But then again, his missed freethrows in Game 1 in '97 (leading Scottie Pippen to quip that "The mailman doesn't deliver on Sundays") and his turnover at the end of Game 6 in '98 both set up two Michael Jordan buzzer-beaters and, of course, two more championships.

2. Larry Bird: The 1984-85 season was a good one for the Celtics. They were the reigning champs, Bird was his second consecutive MVP award, and the team won a league-best 63 games during the regular season. The Celtics seemed like a lock to win back-to-back titles for the first time since the 1960s. But then Bird injured his hand in a bar fight during the Eastern Conference Finals and his shooting percentage dropped from the mid-50s to the low 40s. Not only did they surrender their title to the Lakers, they did it in Boston Garden. Bird was 12-for-28 in the deciding game.

1. John Starks: The New York Knicks lost Game 7 of the 1994 Finals by a score of 90-84. It was a game they could have won, and they would have won it...if John Starks hadn't shot 2-for-18 from the field. During the 2006 NBA Finals, Pat Riley stated publicly for the first time that sitting Rolando Blackman in favor of John Starks during Games 6 and 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals was "the biggest coaching mistake" in his career and stated that he has never forgiven himself for it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Kobe only scored 2 points in game 2 because he twisted his ankle in the first quarter and left the game. He also didn't play in game three.

He had a bad game in game 5. That's true.

But how about Game 4, where he single-handedly carried the team when shaq fouled out in the 4th. he hit 4 huge free throws and lit the pacers up in overtime in what is regarded as on of the most exciting playoff games and clutch performances.

Aside from those two games, he scored and did an excellent job on defense. He was hardly a "bust"

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Yeah, I'd say your evaluation of Kobe as a "bust" in this series is grossly flawed... Kobe not only missed games 2 & 3, but game 5 is universally accepted as a game the Lakers threw (lost by 33 pts, remember) so they could celebrate in L.A.

Kobe only played in 3 games that mattered in that series and averaged 22.6 ppg on 42% shooting in those contests....Stop being a hater.