The NBA Playoffs are a time where the best come to play and the rest don’t last long. That’s what makes the Playoffs so much fun to watch; the best put on a show, and give the fans at home either something to hate or something to adore in the process.

The 2016 NBA Playoffs were no different, as there was a stunning display of talent from all of the competitors in the 16-team field. When it came down to the Finals, the ultimate showdown between the two best teams in the league proved to be the greatest display of talent that basketball fans had seen in recent years. Through the 7 games, there were enough fancy passes, alley-oops, and clutch shots to make a movie-length highlight reel. However, what may have been downplayed was the astounding defense played by both sides, and more than that, the one play that ultimately clinched the Finals trophy.

With 4:40 left in the fourth quarter, Klay Thompson layed the ball up for the Warriors and brought the game to a tie at 89 apiece. The next two-and-a-half minutes or so would drag on for what seemed like an eternity, with both teams exchanging missed baskets and turnovers. As time winded down, neither team could seem to find a way to get the ball into the basket. Finally, with 1:51 remaining in the entire NBA season, LeBron James did something spectacular that would bring all of the momentum left in the stadium to the Cavaliers: he blocked Andre Iguadola’s layup attempt. It wasn’t just any block though – this block was mean, and you could almost feel the emotion right through the TV screen (unless you were fortunate enough to be there), and you could feel the hearts of every Warriors fan in the stadium dropping. That block led to the three-pointer that clinched the NBA Championship for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

As great as it was though, was it the greatest playoff block of all time?

It certainly stands as a top-5 block in the history of the NBA. But, if you ask me, I’ll tell you that there was another block that mattered just as much both in terms of the individual game and in terms of the overall playoff run by that team. The only block that truly compares to LeBron’s this year is Tayshaun Prince’s block on Reggie Miller in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals.


Those 2 blocks are both the same and different in countless ways. If you don’t know either of the blocks that I’m talking about, you can watch them below

Tayshaun in ‘04:

LeBron in ‘16:


First, Tayshaun’s block. Why was it so important? Well, if Reggie Miller had made that layup, the game would’ve been tied. By keeping Indiana off the board, the Pistons were able to secure a rebound, get fouled, and take a two-possession lead. If Miller had made that layup, Indiana may have found a way to score and win the game, which would’ve given them a 2-0 series lead heading back to Detroit. Instead, the Pistons returned home with a 1-1 series on their hands, and momentum on their side. The Pistons would go on to defeat the Pacers 4-2 and would win their 3rd NBA Championship. It is impossible to say what exactly would’ve happened if Tayshaun Prince hadn’t blocked that shot, but it is likely that there wouldn’t have been enough momentum to carry the Pistons through the remainder of the Eastern Conference Finals and to an NBA Championship in 2004.


Prince Block
Tayshaun's block during Game 2 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals

LeBron’s block was similar in the sense that it would eventually secure an unsurpassable amount of momentum, and an NBA Championship, but it was different in the physicality of it and the play that surrounded it. While LeBron carefully maneuvered through both his own teammates and Warriors players to get to Iguadola, Prince just hustled. LeBron’s block hurt the fans, hurt the Warriors, and broke a lot of hearts, but Prince’s block was simply spectacular, because he was at half court when Reggie caught the ball at the free throw line, and he somehow found a way to ca tch Reggie and block the ball.

Lebron Block
Lebrun's block in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals

That’s what the NBA Playoffs are – aggression, hustle, and heartbreak – and it is seen most in the greatest defensive plays that take place. In an age where clutch 3-pointers and behind-the-back passes are what define basketball, the remarkable defense that is played often goes unnoticed.

But, as the saying goes, “Defense wins Championships”, and these two blocks are no exceptions.

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