We remember Michael Jordan for moments like “The Shrug” and “The Final Shot.” But does anyone remember when Nick Anderson made him look like a fool in the 1995 playoffs? Chances are, unless you have a photographic memory or are Nick Anderson, the answer is no. The greats are judged by what made them great, not by what was done on their worst nights.
Bad nights from great players, however, have arguably had just as much of an impact on the game as great players having great nights. Maybe if LeBron James’ Cavs made it past the Celtics in 2010, he never would have gone to Miami. Maybe if John Starks shot better than 2-for-18 from the field in Game 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals, the Knicks would have a series championship in an era in which cell phones exist.
A perfect example of this is taking place right now, with everyone in awe of the Warriors’ dominance. The speculation as to how they would do against the ‘80s Celtics, ‘90s Bulls, and early-‘00s Lakers will easily kill all of the “Warriors blew a 3-1 lead” memes for good, just like Michael Jordan made everyone forget about the Nick Anderson steal by winning three straight championships. Winning is the best amnesia-inducer on the market in the sports world. So, at the end of the day, none of us will remember this decade’s Warriors team for their worst nights. Complex has compiled a list of NBA greats’ worst playoff games, and our bet is that you probably don’t even remember at least half of these, as if they didn’t happen. The player's’ greatness were like those little silver things from Men In Black that erase memories of their bad games—even for playoff games.
So with that said, here is a list of legends and their worst performances in the NBA playoffs.