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1980 NBA Finals
Team Coach Wins
Los Angeles Lakers Paul Westhead 4
Philadelphia 76ers Billy Cunningham 2
Dates: May 4 - May 16
MVP: Magic Johnson
(Los Angeles Lakers)
Television: CBS (U.S.)
Announcers: Brent Musburger, Rod Hundley, and Bill Russell
Game 1:
Game 2:
Game 3:
Game 4:
Game 6: Joe Gushue and Jack Madden
Hall of Famers: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1995)
Julius Erving (1993)
Magic Johnson (2002)
Billy Cunningham (1986, player)
Eastern Finals: 76ers defeat Celtics, 4-1
Western Finals: Lakers defeat Supersonics, 4-1
 < 1979 NBA Finals 1981 > 

The 1980 NBA World Championship Series was the championship round of the 1979–80 NBA season.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the league's MVP. But in a Game 5 victory, the Laker center suffered a severely sprained ankle. Proud to lead the best-of-seven series three-games-to-two, the Lakers still had to travel to Philadelphia for a huge Game 6—without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

In game 6, Magic Johnson may have played the greatest game of his career. On May 16, 1980, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, playing on the road, in Philadelphia, Magic (a 6'9" point guard) started the game at center and eventually played every position on the floor in a dominating performance. Scoring a game-high 42 points and grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds—and handing out 7 assists—Magic Johnson led the Lakers to the NBA crown.

Magic Johnson was named the 1980 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, though he appreciated Magic Johnson's play as much as anyone, expressed disappointment that he, Kareem, had not received the Finals MVP award.

What made Magic Johnson's performance even more remarkable was that he was an NBA rookie—and, indeed, one who had left college after only two years. Thus, he was only 20 years old.

On a side note, here, in Game 4 of the 1980 Finals, Julius Erving executed the legendary Baseline Move, an incredible, behind-the-board reverse layup that seemed to defy gravity. Play-by-play announcer Brent Musberger has noted that Erving made such moves almost routinely in his ABA days—but the ABA had no national TV contract in those days. This Game 4 move, played to a national audience in a title game, has probably become Julius Erving's most famous move.

The 76ers were the first of the four Philadelphia professional sports teams to play for their respective league's championships in a span of nine months. The Philadelphia Flyers succumbed in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the New York Islanders eight days after the 76ers fell to the Lakers in their Game 6, the Philadelphia Phillies won their first championship in the World Series in October over the Kansas City Royals, and the Philadelphia Eagles lost Super Bowl XV to the Oakland Raiders in January 1981.


Series summary

Los Angeles 4, Philadelphia 2

Game Date Home Team Result Road Team
Game 1 May 4 Los Angeles 109-102 Philadelphia
Game 2 May 7 Los Angeles 104-107 Philadelphia
Game 3 May 10 Philadelphia 101-111 Los Angeles
Game 4 May 11 Philadelphia 105-102 Los Angeles
Game 5 May 14 Los Angeles 108-103 Philadelphia
Game 6 May 16 Philadelphia 107-123 Los Angeles

Game 1

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, playing on a mission and finally with an effective supporting cast around him, scored 33 points, pulled down 14 rebounds, and had six blocks and five assists on the way to a 109-102 win in the Forum. Norm Nixon had 23 points and Jamaal Wilkes finished with 20 while the Lakers did an excellent double-teaming job on Julius Erving. Rookie Magic Johnson contributed 16 points, nine assists and 10 rebounds.

Game 2

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar continued to dominate, with 38 points in Game 2. But, this time, he got very little help as the Laker break never got going.

Julius Erving scored 12 points in the first quarter on his way to 23, beginning the game with a dunk over Abdul-Jabbar. Darryl Dawkins added 25 points, many of them on outside shots trying to draw Abdul-Jabbar away from the basket. Maurice Cheeks matched Erving's total of 23 points, while Bobby Jones added 13 off the bench.

The Sixers led by as much as 20 in the fourth period, but the Lakers roared back, trimming the lead to 105-104 late in the game. Then, Jones popped in a jumper with seven seconds left, and that was enough for a 107-104 Philly win that tied the series at a game apiece.

Game 3

With a split in L.A., the Sixers were hoping to take command of the series with the next two games in Philadelphia. The Lakers, however, ended those hopes by taking a 15-point lead in the first quarter. Julius Erving led a short comeback in the second, but a 9-0 run by the Lakers extended their lead to 14 at the half.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once again had a big game with 33 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks and three assists as the Lakers cruised to a 111-101 win.

Game 4

This game was a nip-and-tuck affair that was highlighted by Julius Erving's signature "Baseline Move" in the fourth quarter. The Sixers went on to even the series with a 105-102 win. Darryl Dawkins, who seemed to be growing into a legitimate NBA pivotman in this series (at least before he started breaking backboards), led the Sixers with 26 points, and Erving had 23.

Game 5

Back at the Los Angeles Forum, the Lakers held a two-point lead late in the third quarter when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stepped on Lionel Hollins' foot as he was running upcourt after a Laker basket and twisted his ankle. At that point, Kareem had scored 26 points and was carrying the Lakers, but now he was in the locker room. Magic Johnson then asserted himself by scoring six points and added an assist as Los Angeles moved up by eight at the end of the third.

Abdul-Jabbar then limped back onto the floor. His appearance aroused the Forum regulars and, despite the bad ankle, scored 14 points down the stretch. With the game tied at 103 and only 33 seconds left, Abdul-Jabbar dunked, drew a foul, and completed the three-point play. Los Angeles went on to win 108-103 and took a 3-2 series lead.

For the Sixers, Julius Erving scored 36 points, and almost single-handedly brought the Sixers back from an eight-point deficit with less than 3 minutes left to tie the score at 103 all, before Jabbar's famous three-point play.

Game 6

The Lakers' team doctors declared Abdul-Jabbar and his bad ankle unfit for Game 6, so Laker coach Paul Westhead made a bold move by asking Magic Johnson to jump center. Johnson had no problem and was up to the challenge. Early on, the Sixers seemed unsure how to counter the matchup problem. The Lakers went up 7-0, then 11-4. Finally, the Sixers used their newfound size advantage in the second quarter to take a 52-44 lead. The Lakers countered by collapsing more in the paint and rallied for a 60-60 tie at the half.

Los Angeles opened the third period with a 14-0 run, keyed by Jamaal Wilkes, who had 16 points in the quarter. In the fourth with a little over five minutes left, the Sixers had rallied to cut the Laker lead to 103-101. After a timeout, the tired Lakers went on one last run, with Magic scoring nine points down the stretch on the way to a final 123-107 margin.

Wilkes had a career-high 37 points and added 10 rebounds. Jim Chones effectively shut down the middle in place of Abdul-Jabbar and finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and held Darryl Dawkins to 14 points and a scant four rebounds. Michael Cooper, in a rare start, scored 16 points, and Mark Landsberger contributed 10 boards.

But, this night belonged to the rookie MVP Magic. He scored 42 points, including all 14 of his free-throw attempts. He added 15 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block. "It was amazing, just amazing," said Erving, who led Philly with 27 points.

Quote from the Finals

There it is, it's over and the Most Valuable Player is Magic Johnson
Brent Musburger describing the end of the 1980 NBA Finals for CBS Sports
It's 89-84. Sixers are getting in-SIDE and, AND unbelievable!! Julius Erving, hanging seemingly underneath and he was fouled, and he still got a field goal!
Brent Musburger describing the "Baseline Move" of Julius Erving in Game 4.

Team rosters

See also

External links


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