Some basketball purists have called the June 4th game between the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns in the 1976 NBA Finals one of the greatest games ever played!
Despite being down 18 points at the end of the first quarter and 16 points at halftime, the Suns fought back and briefly held a one point lead with just seconds to go in the game.
With time winding down, the Suns fouled the Celtic’s John Havlicek who could’ve won the game if he had made both free throws but since he only made one the game went into overtime.
In the first overtime both teams scored six points and were once again tied when the buzzer sounded.
In the second OT the Celtics led 109-106 with about 20 seconds left to play but the Suns scored, stole the inbounds pass and scored again to take a 110-109 lead with six seconds left.
The Celtics inbounded the ball to Havlicek who banked in a jump shot off the dribble to seemingly give Boston the win at the buzzer.
However, the official (no, it wasn’t Joey Crawford) ended the victory celebration said there were actually two seconds left on the clock when Havicek scored.
What followed was one of the smartest plays in the history of the NBA.
Instead of taking the ball the length of the floor in two seconds, the Suns’ Paul Westphal called a timeout even though his team didn’t have any left.
A technical foul was called and the Celtics Jo Jo White made the free throw to give Boston a 112-110 lead. But since they had inbounded the ball and called timeout Phoenix now got the ball at half court.
They inbounded the ball to Garfield Heard who then hit a turn around jump shot at the buzzer to send the game into a third overtime!
The Celtics went on to win the game in the third overtime 128-126 but after nearly 40 years it still remains as possibly he greatest game ever played!
Here is a clip showing Garfield Heard’s buzzer beater.
If you get the chance do yourself a favor and watch a replay of the entire game.