The greats always finish on a high note. Or at least that’s the ultimate goal for every single NBA player. Especially NBA legends. After all, who would want to end his career with a loss?
Below we’ve rounded out some of the most memorable final game performances of some former NBA players with legendary status. There’s much to discuss, so let’s get on with it.
Here’s the best final games of NBA legends
Honorable Mention: Michael Jordan
What we’re talking about here is the last game of the great Michael Jordan in a Chicago Bulls uniform. He cemented himself as the GOAT after an amazing performance in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. The icing on the cake was Jordan’s unforgettable game-winning, second three-peat-clinching shot with just a few seconds remaining.
Technically, MJ’s last game was with the Wizards in 2003, in a rather pedestrian 15-point performance. However, if he never went out of retirement for a second time, then surely, that last game in Utah would have easily been the greatest final-game performance in NBA history.
Dirk Nowitzki played 21 seasons in the NBA, all of which were with the Dallas Mavericks. The German national is one of the last few lifers who prioritized loyalty above anything else.
In his final game for the Mavs, Nowitzki logged 20 points, 10 rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a couple of 3-pointers. He did this in 31 minutes of action, despite the fact that he averaged just 15.6 minutes per game that season (along with 7.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per contest). Obviously, Nowitzki wanted to prove that he could still get it done in the final game of his career.
One of the most memorable moments of the evening was Nowitzki tearing up during the pre-game tribute video that was played on the big screen. By the end of the evening, when Dirk was subbed out after making his 20th point, the entire crowd was cheering him on wildly. Oh, and it was an away game for the Mavs that night, with the San Antonio Spurs hosting Nowitzki’s final game.
Remember when we said earlier that no single player wants to end their career on a losing note? Well, Indiana Pacers legend Reggie Miller did just that. However, he had such an astounding performance that he still made it to our list here today.
Miller’s final game came during the 2005 playoffs. It was Game 6 of Indiana’s second-round matchup against the Detroit Pistons. Miller did all he could to will his side to victory, finishing with 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting, along with four triples, two rebounds, and two assists.
Unfortunately for him, the Pacers were overwhelmed by the Pistons, and Miller’s final game ended in defeat. Nonetheless, he was honored with a unforgettable standing ovation at the end of the contest.
Dwyane Wade had himself a farewell tour in his final season in the NBA. This was during the 2018-19 campaign, and of course, he had to close out his career with his beloved Miami Heat.
Wade actually surprised the basketball world with his consistency throughout the season, averaging an impressive 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.2 assists.
In his final NBA game, Wade dropped an amazing 25-point, 11-rebound, and 10-assist triple-double. Miami may have lost that game to the Brooklyn Nets, but there’s no denying that Wade was the star of that evening.
Bill Russell is easily one of the greatest players to have ever dawned the Boston Celtics uniform. Actually, he’s one of the greatest players ever. Period.
Russell’s illustrious career came to an end on May 5, 1969. He managed just six points that evening, but he also grabbed 21 boards. What makes this performance so memorable is the fact that it was in Game 7 of the Finals, against no less than Boston’s age-old rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Russell, who also happened to be the team’s coach at that time, led his side to a decisive Game 7 victory, en route to a record 11th championship for the legendary Celtics big man.
As far as final game performances go, Kobe Bryant’s last game for the Lakers has got to be the best among the bunch. On April 13, 2016, the Black Mamba came out with an amazing Kobe Bryant outing, dropping a cool 60 points on his final career game.
The five-time NBA champ really wanted to score as much as he could that evening, taking a career-high 50 shots (!) to hit the 60-point mark. Ultimately, the late, great Kobe Bryant led the Lakers to a thrilling comeback victory against a formidable Utah Jazz side.
Bryant addressed the crowd after the game, and in true Kobe fashion, he dropped the mic at the end of his speech, uttering the now immortalized phrase: “Mamba out.”