NBA farewell games can be highly emotional for both players and fans alike. This holds especially true for superstars who gave most, if not all of their careers to a single franchise, such as Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
For most, farewell games come at the end of years of success, making retiring even more difficult. However, father time catches up to everybody. Some players cannot be competitive nightly in the late stages of their careers.
In recent years, the league has had to say goodbye to several superstars, some of whom, such as LaMarcus Aldridge recently, did not get a proper send-off game. In this article, we look at former NBA stars who could provide one last game of magic for their fans after long and stellar careers.
Top 5 NBA superstars who provided a final game to remember
For some NBA stars, the end of their basketball careers can be upsetting. Legends of the game slowly fade out of the league, no longer having meaningful roles on their teams. The players on our top-5 list may have been past their primes, but they could still put on one final show for audiences.
#5 Reggie Miller
One of the greatest shooters in NBA history, Reggie Miller, ended his career in style despite the Pacers falling to the Detroit Pistons in game 6 of their playoff semifinal series.
Miller is arguably the best player in Indiana's franchise history and one of the few in the 50-40-90 club. The sharp-shooter put on yet another massive scoring display in his last game against the Pistons, scoring 27 points on 32 minutes. More impressive was his shooting accuracy, making 68% of his FG attempts, and shooting 50% on treys.
Although the NBA has evolved to incorporate the three-ball as a legitimate way to win games, Miller was ahead of the curve. He made a staggering 2,561 career threes and ranked 2nd on the all-time three-pointers made before Steph Curry overtook his record in January this year.
#4 Julius Erving
Another Hall-of-Famer and a player whom many stars have based their games on, Julius Erving, was a 4-time MVP. Dr. J could do it on both ends of the court, enjoying his time in the NBA as a free-scoring, high-rebounding forward. He led the league in scoring on three occasions. He also averaged two steals per game throughout his career, showcasing his defensive prowess.
Even in his final season with the Philadelphia 76ers, Erving was as dominant as ever, ending with 16.8 points per night and 4.4 rebounds across 60 games. Although his last game, which came against the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs, ended in defeat, Erving proved he still had what it took to play among the NBA's elite, scoring 24 points and grabbing three steals. He scored over 20 points in three games during the 5-game series, shooting at around 40% in all three.
#3 Wilt Chamberlain
As one of the greatest, if not the greatest, scorers in NBA history, it is unsurprising that Wilt Chamberlain earned a place on our list. The Big Dipper was known for his serial points averages, leading the league on seven occasions and ending his career with a staggering average of 30 a night. He was also a monster in the paint, averaging 22.9 boards throughout his 15 years in the NBA.
In his final game, things were no different for Chamberlain and he had one of the most remarkable farewells of any player. In his final season, the 7-foot center led the Lakers to the NBA Finals where they faced the New York Knicks. Although they lost the series in game 5, Chamberlain did his best to rally his side to another ring, scoring 23 points and grabbing 21 rebounds.
Perhaps one of the most iconic moments of his career came at the end of regulation. Chamberlain dunked the ball with one second left on the clock, which proved to be the last point he scored on an NBA court.
#2. Dwyane Wade
All eyes were on Brooklyn for Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade's last game in the NBA. The legendary shooting guard will go down as one of the franchise's greatest-ever players, leading them to their only three championships and earning 13 All-Star appearances.
Wade's final NBA encounter came against the Brooklyn Nets at a packed Barclays Center. The atmosphere in the arena made it feel like a home game for the Miami Heat star. As one of the most dangerous offensive guards the game has ever seen, it was no surprise that Wade put on one final show before he retired.
Playing 36 minutes, Wade recorded an impressive triple-double of 25-11-10 in front of his closest friends, Chris Paul, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Wade wasn't just outstanding in his final NBA game, but also in his last home game for Miami. The shooting guard scored 30 to guide his team to a win against Philadelphia.
#1 Kobe Bryant
It was only appropriate that one of the greatest NBA players of all time recorded the most excellent farewell game of all time. The late, great Kobe Bryant ended his illustrious 20-year career the only way he knew how. On April 13th, 2016, the Black Mamba put up a staggering 60 points against the Utah Jazz.
In a performance of epic proportions, Kobe Bryant spearheaded the Lakers' 4th quarter comeback. Down 94-84 with 3:20 left on the clock, Bryant scored 15 straight points, leading the Lakers to a 101-96 win. The result came as a shock to the Utah Jazz, who needed only one more win to secure a playoff berth.
Kobe had one of the most significant NBA careers of any player. He won five championships, earned the MVP award in 2008 and was an 18-time All-Star. Going down in LA Lakers history as one of the franchise's best, it was only fitting that his teammates urged him to take as many shots as possible during the game. Bryant took a whopping 50 field goal attempts and drained 44% of them. He also made 83% of his 12 free throws.