Top 10 Early Playoff Moments of Legendary Athletes

The Top Ten
1 Magic Johnson - 1980 NBA Finals Gm 6 vs. Sixers Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. is a retired American professional basketball player who played point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association for 13 seasons.

With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sitting out Game 6 of the NBA Finals due to an injury, rookie Magic Johnson elected to start the game at center despite being a point guard. Closing out the series, Magic would score 42 points, grab 15 rebounds, and dish out seven assists while earning the MVP for the Finals.

I think a very key thing to remember is HE WAS A ROOKIE! That is insane and it is still the reason Magic is my favorite player.

Everything about this man is legendary, and magical!

2 Patrick Roy - 1986 Stanley Cup Finals Patrick Jacques Roy is a Canadian former professional ice hockey goaltender and the former head coach and vice-president of hockey operations for the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League.

When the new York Rangers made a serious run at the Stanley Cup, all they had to do was beat The Canadiens, now I know this is not the finals, but the reason I brought it up because the Rangers had no idea that Roy was the Canadiens goalie, and when the dust was settled it was Roy that lead the Canadiens past the Rangers in the Conference finals and eventually another Stanley Cup for the Habs!
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Taking over for the injured starter, Roy would lead the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup title in his rookie season where he would be named the Conn Smythe trophy winner as the MVP for the playoffs.

3 Joe Montana - 1981 NFC Championship vs. Cowboys Joseph Clifford "Joe" Montana, Jr., nicknamed Joe Cool and The Comeback Kid, is a retired American football quarterback.

After bringing the 49ers on a drive, Montana faced 3rd down from the six. He then scrambled backwards before throwing a high pass that was caught by teammate Dwight Clark, which wound up giving the 49ers the 28-27 win over Dallas.

4 Michael Jordan - 1986 ECR1 Gm 2 vs. Celtics Michael Jeffrey Jordan, also known by his initials, MJ, is an American retired professional basketball player.

A legendary moment for Jordan. In only his second year, he set a record of 63 points in a playoff game. I won't say it's unbreakable, because I think it is, but still, it makes Jordan the legend he is.

After MJ scored 49 points in a loss to Boston in Game 1, he lost a game of golf to Celtics guard Danny Ainge. Upset by this, he told Ainge that he and Dennis Johnson would have to watch out for MJ in Game 2. Jordan would go on to score 63 points in the game although Boston would win in double overtime.

5 Tom Brady - 2001 AFC Divisional vs. Raiders Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr., is a retired American football quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League. Brady is known for being the only quarterback in history to win 7 Super Bowls, and was often considered one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Brady was also... read more

Although the game is best remembered for the controversial Tuck Rule, Tom Brady was able to take advantage of the opportunity and lead the Patriots to a game-tying field goal. In overtime, Brady marched down the field to set up for the winning field goal.

6 John Elway - 1986 AFC Championship vs. Browns John Albert Elway Jr. is a former American football quarterback and current executive vice president of football operations and general manager of the Denver Broncos of the National Football League.

Down 20-13 in front of a hostile Cleveland Brown fanbase, John Elway would lead the Broncos on a 98-yard drive that send the game into overtime where Denver would win on a field goal.

7 LeBron James - 2007 Eastern Conference Finals Gm 5 vs. Pistons LeBron Raymone James is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. LeBron has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and the Lakers.

In a critical Game 5, LeBron James would lead the Cavaliers to a double-overtime victory over the Pistons while scoring the last 25 points for the team.

8 Randy Johnson - 1995 AL West Tiebreaker vs. Angels

Facing a one-game playoff, Johnson pitched a complete game 9-1 victory over the California Angels striking out 12 batters while giving up a homer in the 9th inning.

Randy was pitching more than just the Tiebreaker, he was in time Successfully pitching to keep the Mariners in Seattle.
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9 Brett Favre - 1993 NFC Wild Card vs. Lions Brett Lorenzo Favre is a former American football quarterback who spent the majority of his career with the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League.

Favre's first playoff game would be memorable as he would throw for three touchdown passes all to Sterling Sharpe. His last touchdown pass would be from 40-yards out that wound up winning the game for the Packers against the Lions.

10 Hakeem Olajuwon - 1986 Western Conference Finals vs. Lakers Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, formerly known as Akeem Olajuwon, is a Nigerian-American retired professional basketball player.

In his second season in the NBA, Olajuwon led the Houston Rockets to a major upset over the Los Angeles Lakers. Hakeem averaged 31 ppg in the five-game series over the defending champions and would lead the Rockets to the NBA Finals.

The Contenders
11 Larry Bird - 1981 Eastern Conference Finals vs. 76ers
12 Willie Mays - 54 Giants Willie Howard Mays, Jr., nicknamed "The Say Hey Kid", is an American former Major League Baseball center fielder who spent almost all of his 22-season career playing for the New York/San Francisco Giants, before finishing with the New York Mets.

Willie first big moment came with THE CATCH, even though many years later Willie said it wasn't hi best catch ever, it still was Willie's first great playoff moment in his illustrious career and it all began at Polo Grounds in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series against the Cleveland Indians in inning 8.
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13 Otto Graham - 1946 AAFC Championship Game vs. New York Yankees (Football) Otto Everett Graham Jr. was an American football quarterback who played for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference and National Football League.

In a sign of things to come, Otto's firs taste of glory began here with a 14-9 win as The Cleveland Browns began a decade of dominance in pro football. Otto had 213 yards passing and a single td pass. Great start for Otto and the Browns
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14 Ken Dryden - 1971 Stanley Cup Playoffs vs. Bruins
15 Johnny Unitas - 1958 NFL Championship vs. Colts

It was the start of something big for a man who three years earlier was an unwanted NFL quarterback. In that epic game he delivered a game tying drive that required 73 yards and 4 memorable passes to Lenny Moore and Raymond Berry to set up a game tying field goal. In overtime, he drove another memorable drive that ended with Alan Ameche running into daylight and into NFL lore forever.
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