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2017 NBA Playoffs

LeBron James misses dunk in Game 4, just like Michael Jordan did in 1992 playoffs

The two plays, separated by 25 years, are weirdly similar, down to the play-by-play call

Wait, LeBron James missed a wide-open dunk? Yup. We still can’t believe it either.

Late in the third quarter of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, we were blessed with a moment we all pray for each time James touches the hardwood. Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love secured a rebound and instinctively cranked an outlet pass down the court. The camera panned to James, who had three Boston Celtics defenders trailing behind him and nothing but open space in his path toward the rim.

James rose up for the one-handed tomahawk jam and threw it down like there was no tomorrow. Nope, he missed it. Somehow, James missed a breakaway dunk, resulting in the ball clanking off the rim and up into the air before Boston grabbed the rebound and headed back down the court.

Even legendary play-by-play announcer Marv Albert was caught off guard by James’ blooper. “Oh, he missed the stuff!” Albert gasped on the TNT broadcast. James’ missed dunk was such an aberration that reporters asked him about it after the game.

“I’ve missed a couple dunks in my career,” James joked after Cleveland’s 112-99 win against the Boston Celtics. “I think I’ve made more than I’ve missed, though, so the percentages are pretty good.”

Don’t worry, King James. We forgive you. Because even His Airness missed a wide-open dunk in the postseason once.

In the second round of the 1992 NBA playoffs, Michael Jordan found himself in an eerily similar situation. Late in the first half of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, Scottie Pippen controlled the tip off a jump ball before quickly scooping the rock up to Jordan, who was all by himself in the open court, ready to take flight.

Just like James, Jordan elected to go with the one-handed dunk attempt. But, for some reason, Jordan missed his straightaway attack at the Madison Square Garden basket. The play ended with the basketball ricocheting off the rim with so much force that it landed out of bounds at half court.

Coincidentally, Albert also led the broadcast for that ’92 playoff game between the Bulls and Knicks, and his call of Jordan’s play is almost identical to how he reacted to James’ miss 25 years to the month later.

“And he blew the stuff!” Albert roared, before trying to make sense of what happened while watching the replay. “Michael Jordan has done the unthinkable,” he continued.

After Chicago’s 94-86 Game 3 win over the Knicks on May 9, 1992, reporters asked Jordan about the unusual blunder.

“I was trying to take the rim down,” Jordan said. “I just came down too hard.”

Moral of the story: Sometimes even the greatest get denied by the rim.

Aaron Dodson is an assistant editor at The Undefeated. Often mistaken for Aaron Dobson of the Arizona Cardinals, he is one letter away from being an NFL wide receiver.