2. The Skyhook
The 1974 Finals represent the greatest, and most painful, defeat that exists in Bucks history. Still, all of that comes from the aftermath of Game 7, and without a moment of sheer magic in Game 6, the Bucks wouldn’t have got to that point in the first place.
In a series where home court frequently proved to mean very little, the Celtics won Game 5 at the MECCA to open up a 3-2 series lead and gave themselves a golden opportunity to kill off the Bucks and close out the title in front of a raucous crowd at the Boston Garden.
The Bucks were resilient, though, and intent on not making that an easy task for Boston.
Having held close to an eight-point lead for most of the game, Milwaukee saw their lead gradually erode away down the stretch, setting up an incredibly tense finish between two of the league’s great teams with the highest stakes available.
With no winner prevailing in regulation, the game moved on to overtime. Then as the first period of overtime was also unable to break the deadlock, the Bucks and Celtics moved into a thrilling double overtime. A win for Boston would make them champions, a win for Milwaukee would send the series to a Game 7 in front of their home fans.
What followed was one of the most impressive periods of shot-making the NBA has ever seen, with legends like John Havlicek and Oscar Robertson apparently seeming immune to the immense pressure of the occasion.
When Havlicek notched his 35th points of the night with just seven seconds remaining, it seemed for all the world as if the Celtics were set for celebration.
After the timeout that followed, Robertson inbounded the ball to Abdul-Jabbar, who had his back to the basket way out on the right wing. With a quick look up, Abdul-Jabbar identified Mickey Johnson was covered under the basket and instead opted to quickly pivot toward the baseline.
With two Boston defenders draped all over him, and a significant distance between him and the hoop, Abdul-Jabbar released the most iconic and graceful skyhook of a career that was defined by such moments. As it rippled through the net, giving the Bucks a 102-101 lead with just three seconds left, you could hear the air go out of the arena.
The Bucks held on, making it the shot that set up a chance for the franchise to win its second championship. The fact an exhausted Bucks’ team fell short in Game 7 and it still doesn’t detract from the shot’s majesty says everything about just how special the moment was.