Devin Armani Booker broke NBA Twitter on Tuesday after he swished an extremely difficult turnaround jumper to lift the Phoenix Suns over the Los Angeles Clippers at the buzzer. The 23-year-old drained the tough J right in the face of two incredibly gifted defenders in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to cap off his 35-point evening and the third win for the Suns in the bubble.
Booker’s clutch shot marked just the sixth buzzer-beater to win a game this season. Moreover, there have been 775 such shots in the history of the NBA, per Basketball-Reference.com. Booker’s epic shot against the Clippers is the third game-winning buzzer-beater of his career so far. The other two came within the span of five weeks in 2017.
A handful of other players have had multiple game-winners at the buzzer like Booker did on Tuesday. However, only 10 cold-blooded individuals knocked down at least five through their careers. With that, let’s take a look at the players with the most game-winning buzzer-beaters in NBA history.
Gilbert Arenas (5)
In his prime, Gilbert Arenas was one of the most dangerous assassins on the court, especially with the game in the balance. Agent Zero made all of his game-winners with the Washington Wizards. Likewise, all of them were also unassisted.
Arguably his most iconic one came against the Utah Jazz on Jan. 15, 2007. As soon as he launched his triple at the top of the key with no time remaining on the clock, Arenas immediately raised his arms in victory even before the ball went through the net. Boss move from Hibachi:
Vince Carter (5)
Vince Carter finally called it career after the coronavirus pandemic abruptly ended his record-setting 22nd NBA season. With that, Carter ends his career having made five game-winning buzzer-beaters throughout his illustrious career.
Two of Carter’s game-winners at the buzzer happened with the Toronto Raptors two decades ago. He didn’t make another one until he went to the New Jersey Nets, where he made a total of two such shots in his career. Carter’s final game-winning buzzer-beater happened in a Dallas Mavericks uniform, the only one in the playoffs. Vinsanity drilled an epic corner triple to lift the Mavs to a Game 3 victory:
Carter could have ended up having six, had his infamous miss against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals gone in.
Andre Iguodala (5)
Who would have thought Andre Iguodala has made this many buzzer-beating game-winners throughout his career? The veteran’s ability to hit clutch shots and perform in the playoffs is one of the main reasons why the Miami Heat acquired him in February. One of the two currently active NBA players on this list, the 6-foot-7 forward has proven to own the clutch gene over and over again.
Three of his game-winning buzzer-beaters came in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform, while a pair happened with the Golden State Warriors. His last one, however, came even before he won any of his three championships: a 3-pointer to lift the Dubs to a victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 3, 2014.
Kevin Garnett (5)
Kevin Garnett is the only non-perimeter player on this list. Mostly known for his intensity, especially when attacking the rack with his thunderous dunks, KG also mastered the art of the mid-range.
All five of the 2003-04 league MVP’s game-winning buzzer beaters were 2-pointers, four of which happened with the Minnesota Timberwolves. His final one came as a member of the Boston Celtics, the team he won his lone NBA championship with.
Dwyane Wade (5)
Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade carried the clutch gene throughout nearly his entire career. All of Wade’s buzzer-beater game-winners came unassisted and, of course, all of them happened in a Heat uniform.
The three-time NBA champion made the first such shot of his career in just his sophomore season. His final one came during his farewell tour last season. In a game against the Golden State Warriors, with the game tied at 125, Wade banked in an impossible 3-pointer at the buzzer to leave the Dubs stunned and the Miami Heat crowd in a frenzy:
Paul Pierce (7)
Paul Pierce may be known for spewing extremely hot takes on TV nowadays. However, in his heyday as a basketball player, Pierce owned one of the hottest hands in the clutch.
Pierce drained seven game-winning buzzer-beaters through his career, six of which happened in isolation situations. Likewise, six of those came with the Boston Celtics. His final one happened in a Washington Wizards jersey in the 2017 playoffs:
And lest you forget, Pierce didn’t call bank on that shot. He called GAME.
LeBron James (7)
LeBron James often gets criticized for coming up short during clutch situations. However, The King is actually one of the most clutch players in NBA history. Of the seven game-winning buzzer beaters in his career, five have come in the playoffs. This is the most anyone has ever had in NBA postseason history.
One of his most memorable ones happened in Game 1 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic. He buried a triple at the top of the arc to win it:
His most recent one came in the 2018 playoffs, when he officially took ownership of the Toronto Raptors franchise:
Just kidding, Raptors fans.
LeBron has yet to make one with the Los Angeles Lakers. With still no signs of slowing down despite being 35 years old and in Year 17, James may still add on to his current count.
Joe Johnson (8)
Joe Johnson may not be one of the most popular players even during his prime years, but he was still one of the coldest assassins when it came down to gut-check time.
Also known as Iso Joe, seven of his game-winners at the buzzer came in isolation situations. Likewise, seven of his game-winners came in the regular season, which is tied for No. 1. His lone buzzer-beater in the playoffs just happened to be his last one, a game-winning floater that just bounced in to lift the Utah Jazz in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Johnson has not officially retired from professional basketball just yet. In fact, the seven-time All-Star attempted to make an NBA comeback prior to this season. Johnson still plays in the BIG3, where he continues to showcase his elite scoring ability. Throughout the 2019 season in which he won league MVP and led his team to the title, Johnson made multiple 4-pointers to win games.
Kobe Bryant (8)
It’s no surprise to see Kobe Bean Bryant on this list. Known as one of the greatest clutch performers of all time, the Los Angeles Lakers legend drained a total of eight game-winning buzzer-beaters throughout his Hall of Fame career.
Six of Bryant’s eight winners came unassisted. Likewise, Kobe co-owns the record with Joe Johnson for most such shots in the regular season with seven.
But arguably his most iconic one happened in the playoffs in Game 4 of their first-round series against the Phoenix Suns in 2006. The five-time NBA champion was incredibly clutch in this game, too, even making an extremely difficult layup in regulation to force overtime.
But Kobe eventually saved his best for last when he drained his signature fadeaway jumper from the elbow to bury the Suns to a 3-1 series hole. Unfortunately, Bryant and the Lakers eventually squandered the commanding series lead and lost in seven games:
Michael Jordan (9)
I mean, who else did you expect? The basketball world considers Michael Jordan the greatest player to ever play the game.
Six of Jordan’s game-winners happened in the regular season, where he sits at No. 2. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls legend buried three of those in the playoffs, trailing only LeBron James for the top spot. Two of Jordan’s game-winners in the postseason ended a series. Only he and Damian Lillard have done so multiple times. Both of them happened against the Cleveland Cavaliers, including this iconic one right here:
Jordan’s other game-winner in the playoffs won them Game 1 of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. Of course, a year later, MJ solidified his claim as the greatest clutch performer ever when he sealed the sixth NBA championship for the Bulls with one of the most iconic shots in NBA history (not quite at the buzzer, but close).
His Airness is undoubtedly the king of buzzer-beaters and is the greatest closer of all time.