The Closest NBA Scoring Title Races Ever
There’s been a lot of photo finishes to decide who the NBA leading scorer was going to be but none was closer than the final day of the 1978 season when George Gervin and David Thompson made history trying to top each other.
Earlier in the day, the Nuggets David Thompson scored 32 points in the first quarter, knocked down 20 of his first 21 shots and finished with 73 points against the Detroit Pistons — good enough for second most in NBA history at that time. The career-high gave Skywalker a final points per game average of 27.1, which meant George Gervin would have to score an unlikely 58 against the Jazz that night to win the scoring title. The Ice Man scored 53 at halftime and finished the game with 63.
Here’s a few other close finishes in NBA history.
1994: Shaq vs The Admiral
David Robinson scored 71 points (with the help of his teammates fouling the other team in the final minute despite being up by 20) on 26 of 41 shooting to beat Shaq’s average of 29.35 points per game with 29.35. David then had to play Hakeem in the playoffs and we all know how that went.
1998: Shaq vs Jordan
Shaq needed a then career-high 59 to top Jordan, who scored 44 earlier in the day. O’Neal scored 33 and MJ won his 10th scoring title.
1999 : Shaq vs The Answer
Shaq again! Shaq needed 40 points in his final game to beat AI’s average of 26.75. He only scored 18 but won the championship a few weeks later.
2010: KD vs LeBron
Durant averaged 34.6 points a game during the final month of the season to beat out LeBron by less than 1 point.
2012: KD vs Kobe
Durant scored 32 points in his final game to eclipse Kobe’s average by 0.11 points. Kobe needed 38 to win the title but decided to sit out the final game.
2013: KD vs Melo
Durant sat out the final game of the season and posted this note on Instagram. Good thing he did because it was very unlikely he was going to score the 70 he needed.
KD made it up to his fans by winning the scoring title the following year by averaging 32 points a game — 4.6 more than #2 Carmelo Anthony.