Best NBA Moments of 2022
James Naismith would be proud. The Almonte, Ontario native didn’t live long enough to see the first NBA (then known as the BAA) game tip off in Toronto back in 1946, but the sport Naismith invented has come a long way since he famously nailed those peach baskets to the wall at the Springfield YMCA.
That was 131 years ago. Today, basketball is the world’s most popular sport outside of soccer, with nearly three billion people playing and/or watching others play. And the NBA is where the world’s top talents showcase their stuff.
Now that 2022 is almost in our rear-view mirror here at Bodog Sportsbook – the world’s No. 1 site for betting on basketball – let’s take some time to remember the amazing things we witnessed on the court. Here’s our top seven list of the best NBA moments of 2022, listed in chronological order:
1. Klay Thompson Returns (January 9)
Basketball fans in Canada will remember where they were on June 13, 2019, when the Toronto Raptors won their first NBA championship. Klay Thompson remembers, too. He tore his ACL during Game 6 of the Finals, and it took 941 days for Thompson to make his return for the Golden State Warriors.
In the two full seasons while Thompson was away, the Warriors missed the playoffs in a serious NBA betting shock. But they performed much better once he rejoined the lineup – as we’ll see shortly.
2. Karl-Anthony Towns Makes it Rain (February 19)
Big men usually don’t fare too well in the Three-Point Contest, one of the signature highlights of All-Star Weekend, but Minnesota Timberwolves centre Karl-Anthony Towns didn’t just win this event last season – he set the final-round record with 29 out of a possible 40 points.
That makes Towns the first and only centre to win the Three-Point Contest. Dirk Nowitzki, another 7-footer, won this contest back in 2006, but he was a power forward for most of his 21 years with the Dallas Mavericks.
3. Gregg Popovich Wins No. 1,336 (March 11)
There are head coaches, and then there’s Coach Pop – and he had to feature in our best NBA moments of 2022. Gregg Popovich has been at the helm of the San Antonio Spurs since 1996, making him the longest-serving active coach in any of the major sports leagues across North America. Popovich has won five NBA titles thus far, plus a gold medal for Team USA at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
On March 11, Popovich cemented his legacy by overtaking Don Nelson for first place on the NBA’s all-time list for regular-season victories, racking up Win No. 1,336 as the Spurs came back to beat the Utah Jazz 104-102. Popovich’s career record stands at 1,353-719 as we go to press.
4. LeBron James: 10K/10K/10K (March 13)
This was a pivotal year in the NBA – the year where LeBron James overtook Michael Jordan as the best basketball player of all-time. It’s entirely subjective, of course, but now more than ever, people are putting James ahead of Jordan on their Mount Rushmore of basketball greats.
One thing we can say for sure: James is the only NBA player to score 10,000 points, grab 10,000 rebounds, and dish out 10,000 assists. He became the charter member of this club on March 13 with a pass to Los Angeles Lakers teammate Carmelo Anthony, who drained a 3-pointer in what turned out to be an otherwise unremarkable 140-111 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
5. Nikola Jokic: 2K/1K/500 (April 7)
Speaking of charter members, no NBA player had ever posted 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists during a regular season – until April 7, when Nikola Jokic completed the feat for the Denver Nuggets. Jokic got there with a 2-pointer against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second-last game of the season, a game Denver went on to win 122-109.
Jokic would finish the year with 2,004 points, a league-leading 1,019 rebounds, and 584 assists, earning his second consecutive MVP award in the process. If Joel Embiid is still wondering what he has to do to win that elusive MVP, here’s his answer. It’s difficult to see Jokic not adding to future lists similar to this, and he is arguably the star of our best NBA moments of 2022.
6. Warriors Reclaim the Title (June 16)
You don’t have anything if you don’t have your health. Golden State fell to the Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals after both Thompson and Kevin Durant (torn Achilles) suffered injuries that would keep them off the court the following season. Toronto’s would-be dynasty was then cut short by assorted injuries and COVID-19.
While the Raptors rediscover their championship form, the Warriors found theirs again with Thompson back in uniform. They put away the plucky Boston Celtics in six, and Thompson scored 17 points per game and hit several clutch 3-pointers along the way.
7. Everybody Plays (November 7)
The most important day on the 2022 calendar was actually November 8: Election Day in the United States. To keep from distracting potential voters, the NBA decided not to play any games that day. Instead, all 30 teams were in action on November 7, and the league made it an extra-special night by tweaking the schedule so each game would start 15 minutes after the last.
As part of the festivities, the league showed all 15 games as part of their CrunchTime broadcast, which flips between games in much the same fashion as the NFL’s RedZone channel. Fans were treated to some great basketball, too, including a 47-point performance by Stephen Curry as the Warriors edged the Sacramento Kings 116-113.
There’s still time for others to add their names to the best NBA moments of 2022, but NBA fans are already looking forward to 2023, when James is expected to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most career regular-season points. At press time, James needs 829 points to surpass Kareem’s total of 38,387; if he continues his current pace, James will break the record sometime in mid-February – and Bodog Sportsbook will be there to provide all the betting action. Enjoy the holidays in the meantime, and we’ll see you in the New Year.