Sixteen. Today, it’s the one number that every NBA player shoots for — the difference between basketball immortality and a nagging, lifelong regret over what could have been. Though the path to glory is different for every player, it’s 16 vital playoff wins that stand between each of them and the ultimate goal. Reaching that magical 16 requires rising to the occasion in moments that hoops fans never forget. For some, it’s a single moment that lasts just one tick of the game clock. For others, it’s a full 48 minutes plus.
The following are moments (in no particular order) that cement members of NIKE, Inc.’s extended family among basketball royalty. While not every moment led directly to a title, each is intrinsic to the respective athlete’s journey toward glory. And for all 14 of them, the metaphor of 16 rings true.