1985 NBA Finals

The 1985 NBA World Championship Series was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1984–85 season, and the culmination of the season's playoffs.

The Boston Celtics were looking to repeat as NBA Champions for the first time since the 1968–69 season. The Celtics had homecourt advantage for the second year in a row as they finished the regular season with a 63-19 record while the Los Angeles Lakers compiled a 62-20 record. The Lakers looked to bounce back from the previous year's painful loss to the Celtics in the championship series, and were still seeking to beat Boston for the first time ever in NBA Finals history. Also for the first time, the Finals went to a 2-3-2 format with Games 1 and 2 in Boston while the next three games were in Los Angeles. The final two games of the series would be played in Boston, if required. This change of format came after David Stern had a conversation with Celtics legend Red Auerbach in 1984, who didn't like the frequent traveling between games.[1] The 2-3-2 format would be used until the 2013 NBA Finals, after which the 2-2-1-1-1 format returned the following year.

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Celtics four games to two to defeat the Celtics for the first time in Laker history in the NBA Finals.

It would mark the last time the NBA World Championship Series branding would be in use as the NBA Finals branding would replace it the next season.

The video documentary Return to Glory recaps the 1985 NBA Playoff action.

1985 NBA Finals
Los Angeles Lakers Pat Riley 4
Boston Celtics K. C. Jones 2
DatesMay 27–June 9
MVPKareem Abdul-Jabbar
(Los Angeles Lakers)
TelevisionCBS (U.S.)
AnnouncersDick Stockton and Tom Heinsohn
Radio networkWRKO (BOS)
AnnouncersJohnny Most and Glenn Ordway (BOS)
Chick Hearn and Keith Erickson (LAL)
Game 1:Darell Garretson and Jess Kersey
Game 2:Jake O'Donnell and John Vanak
Game 3:Hugh Evans and Earl Strom
Game 4:Ed T. Rush and John Vanak
Game 5:Darell Garretson and Jake O'Donnell
Game 6:Hugh Evans and Earl Strom
Hall of FamersCeltics:
Larry Bird (1998)
Dennis Johnson (2010)
Kevin McHale (1999)
Robert Parish (2003)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1995)
Magic Johnson (2002)
Bob McAdoo (2000)
Jamaal Wilkes (2012)
James Worthy (2003)
K.C. Jones (1989, player)
Pat Riley (2008)
Darell Garretson (2016)
Earl Strom (1995)
Eastern FinalsCeltics defeat 76ers, 4–1
Western FinalsLakers defeat Nuggets, 4–1


Los Angeles Lakers

After losing to the Celtics in the previous year's finals, the Lakers entered the 1984–85 NBA season with a mission. Once again using the effective Showtime offense, they ran away with the Western Conference-leading 62 wins. The team as a whole underwent a slight evolution, as James Worthy supplanted Jamaal Wilkes as the starting small forward, while Byron Scott began to earn more minutes as the backup to both Magic Johnson and Michael Cooper.

In the playoffs, the Lakers eliminated the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets, going 11–2 in the three playoff rounds.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics repeated with the NBA's best record by winning 63 games. For the second straight season, Larry Bird won the MVP award, while Kevin McHale won Sixth Man Award for the second year running, despite making the transition from bench cog to starter late in the season with Cedric Maxwell nursing a knee injury. Danny Ainge also emerged as the team's starting shooting guard, after the Celtics traded Gerald Henderson to the Seattle SuperSonics in the offseason.

The Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers, finishing with an 11–4 record heading into the finals. By that point, Boston's classic starting five under head coach K. C. Jones was solidified, featuring Bird, McHale and Robert Parish in the frontcourt, and Ainge and Dennis Johnson in the backcourt.

Road to the Finals

Los Angeles Lakers (Western Conference champion) Boston Celtics (Eastern Conference champion)
# Western Conference
1 c-Los Angeles Lakers 62 20 .756
2 y-Denver Nuggets 52 30 .634 10
3 x-Houston Rockets 48 34 .585 14
4 x-Dallas Mavericks 44 38 .537 18
5 x-Portland Trail Blazers 42 40 .512 20
6 x-Utah Jazz 41 41 .500 21
7 x-San Antonio Spurs 41 41 .500 21
8 x-Phoenix Suns 36 46 .439 26
9 Seattle SuperSonics 31 51 .378 31
10 Los Angeles Clippers 31 51 .378 31
11 Kansas City Kings 31 51 .378 31
12 Golden State Warriors 22 60 .268 40

1st seed in the West, 2nd best league record

Regular season
# Eastern Conference
1 z-Boston Celtics 63 19 .768
2 y-Milwaukee Bucks 59 23 .720 4
3 x-Philadelphia 76ers 58 24 .707 5
4 x-Detroit Pistons 46 36 .561 17
5 x-New Jersey Nets 42 40 .512 21
6 x-Washington Bullets 40 42 .488 23
7 x-Chicago Bulls 38 44 .463 25
8 x-Cleveland Cavaliers 36 46 .439 27
9 Atlanta Hawks 34 48 .415 29
10 New York Knicks 24 58 .293 39
11 Indiana Pacers 22 60 .268 41

1st seed in the East, best league record

Defeated the (8) Phoenix Suns, 3–0 First Round Defeated the (8) Cleveland Cavaliers, 3–1
Defeated the (5) Portland Trail Blazers, 4–1 Conference Semifinals Defeated the (4) Detroit Pistons, 4–2
Defeated the (2) Denver Nuggets, 4–1 Conference Finals Defeated the (3) Philadelphia 76ers, 4–1

Regular season series

Both teams split the two meetings, each won by the home team:

January 16, 1985
Los Angeles Lakers 102, Boston Celtics 104
February 17, 1985
Boston Celtics 111, Los Angeles Lakers 117

Series summary

Game Date Home Team Result Road Team
Game 1 Monday, May 27 Boston Celtics 148–114 (1–0) Los Angeles Lakers
Game 2 Thursday, May 30 Boston Celtics 102–109 (1–1) Los Angeles Lakers
Game 3 Sunday, June 2 Los Angeles Lakers 136–111 (2–1) Boston Celtics
Game 4 Wednesday, June 5 Los Angeles Lakers 105–107 (2–2) Boston Celtics
Game 5 Friday, June 7 Los Angeles Lakers 120–111 (3–2) Boston Celtics
Game 6 Sunday, June 9 Boston Celtics 100–111 (2–4) Los Angeles Lakers

Game 1

May 27
Los Angeles Lakers 114, Boston Celtics 148
Scoring by quarter: 24–38, 25–41, 30–29, 35–40
Pts: James Worthy 20
Rebs: Kurt Rambis 9
Asts: Magic Johnson 12
Pts: McHale, Wedman 26 each
Rebs: Kevin McHale 9
Asts: Dennis Johnson 10
Boston leads the series, 1–0
Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance: 14,890
  • No. 10 Darell Garretson
  • No. 20 Jess Kersey

The Celtics beat the Lakers 148-114 in a game that came to be known as the "Memorial Day Massacre." The game was a profound embarrassment for the Lakers. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had only 12 points and 3 rebounds in his matchup with Robert Parish, and Magic Johnson pulled down only one rebound. Danny Ainge of the Celtics started hot, scoring 15 points in the first quarter. Scott Wedman made all 11 shots he took from the field. Afterwards, Abdul-Jabbar apologized to his teammates for his terrible performance.

Before Boston's 131-92 victory over the Lakers in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals, this was the most lopsided finals game in the history of the Lakers–Celtics rivalry.

Game 2

May 30
Los Angeles Lakers 109, Boston Celtics 102
Scoring by quarter: 31–26, 33–20, 23–29, 22–27
Pts: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 30
Rebs: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 17
Asts: Magic Johnson 13
Pts: Larry Bird 30
Rebs: Larry Bird 12
Asts: Dennis Johnson 8
Series tied, 1–1
Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance: 14,890
  • No. 11 Jake O'Donnell
  • No. 9 John Vanak

The Lakers recovered from their Game 1 embarrassment behind Abdul-Jabbar's 30 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, and 8 assists. Laker swingman Michael Cooper helped in the cause by finishing with 22 points on an 8 for 9 shooting performance, including several clutch outside jumpers down the stretch. The series was evened at 1-1.

Game 3

June 2
Boston Celtics 111, Los Angeles Lakers 136
Scoring by quarter: 29–25, 30–40, 26–35, 26–36
Pts: Kevin McHale 31
Rebs: Kevin McHale 10
Asts: Danny Ainge 10
Pts: James Worthy 29
Rebs: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 14
Asts: Magic Johnson 16
Los Angeles leads the series, 2–1
The Forum, Inglewood, California
Attendance: 17,505
  • No. 25 Hugh Evans
  • No. 12 Earl Strom

The Celtics held a 48-38 lead in the second quarter before the Lakers, led by James Worthy, took a 65-59 lead at halftime. The Lakers pulled away in the second half and won the game 136-111. During the game, Abdul-Jabbar became the league's all-time leading playoff scorer. Meanwhile, Larry Bird's shooting slump from game 2 continued. He shot a combined 17 of 42 from the field in games two and three.

Game 4

June 5
Boston Celtics 107, Los Angeles Lakers 105
Scoring by quarter: 28–32, 31–26, 23–26, 25–21
Pts: Kevin McHale 28
Rebs: Kevin McHale 12
Asts: Dennis Johnson 12
Pts: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 21
Rebs: Magic Johnson 11
Asts: Magic Johnson 12
Series tied, 2–2
The Forum, Inglewood, California
Attendance: 17,505
  • No. 4 Ed T. Rush
  • No. 9 John Vanak

The Celtics tied the series in the fourth game with a 107-105 win, as Dennis Johnson hit a jumper as time expired.

Game 5

June 7
Boston Celtics 111, Los Angeles Lakers 120
Scoring by quarter: 31–35, 20–29, 30–31, 30–25
Pts: Robert Parish 26
Rebs: Kevin McHale 10
Asts: Dennis Johnson 17
Pts: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 36
Rebs: Kurt Rambis 9
Asts: Magic Johnson 17
Los Angeles leads the series, 3–2
The Forum, Inglewood, California
Attendance: 17,505
  • No. 10 Darell Garretson
  • No. 11 Jake O'Donnell

In this game, the Lakers stomped out the Celtics by jumping out to a 64-51 lead and stretched it to 89-72 before the Celtics cut the deficit to 4 points, late in the 4th quarter. The Celtics would cut the lead to 4 points several times, but the Lakers answered each time. Magic Johnson made three shots, Kareem added four more shots, and Cooper hit 2 outside jumpers, and the Lakers came away with a 120-111 victory to take a 3-2 series lead. It was the first Game 5 to be played in the 2-3-2 Finals format in which the team without home court advantage hosted.

Game 6

June 9
Los Angeles Lakers 111, Boston Celtics 100
Scoring by quarter: 28–26, 27–29, 27–18, 29–27
Pts: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 29
Rebs: Johnson, Rambis 10 each
Asts: Magic Johnson 14
Pts: Kevin McHale 32
Rebs: Kevin McHale 16
Asts: Danny Ainge 11
Los Angeles wins the series, 4–2
Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance: 14,890
  • No. 25 Hugh Evans
  • No. 12 Earl Strom

In the series clincher the Lakers held the Celtics to just 18 third quarter points to blow open a game tied at halftime. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored 29 points and James Worthy 28 as Los Angeles became the first opposing team clinch a title in the Boston Garden. Magic Johnson dished out a game-high 14 assists. Celtics' forward Kevin McHale scored 32 points and grabbed 16 rebounds--both game-highs--before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Larry Bird's dismal shooting continued as he hit just 12 of 29 shots.

The 37-year-old Abdul-Jabbar was named MVP of the series, his second Finals MVP award and first since 1971, averaging 25.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.5 blocks in the six games. Worthy averaged 23.7 points for the Lakers, while Magic Johnson scored 18.3 points per game to go along with 14.0 assists and 6.8 rebounds. Los Angeles shot 51.2% as a team for the series.

McHale led Boston in scoring (26.0) and rebounding (10.7) while shooting 59.8% from the floor. Bird averaged 23.8 points and 8.8 rebounds on just 44.9% shooting. Celtics' guard Dennis Johnson led both teams in minutes played (247). Boston shot 47.6% from the floor while out-rebounding Los Angeles 259-256.

Player statistics

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game
Los Angeles Lakers
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 6 6 35.5 .604 .000 .769 9.0 5.2 1.0 1.5 25.7
Michael Cooper 6 0 25.5 .588 .286 .905 2.0 3.7 1.2 0.3 10.2
Magic Johnson 6 6 39.2 .494 .500 .871 6.8 14.0 2.2 0.0 18.3
Mitch Kupchak 6 0 14.5 .550 .000 .643 3.3 0.7 0.2 0.2 5.2
Ronnie Lester 2 0 3.0 .000 .000 1.000 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 1.0
Bob McAdoo 6 0 19.5 .379 .000 .714 3.0 0.8 0.0 0.5 8.2
Mike McGee 4 0 6.5 .500 .600 .667 1.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 4.8
Chuck Nevitt 1 0 2.0 .000 .000 .500 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 1.0
Kurt Rambis 6 6 22.0 .500 .000 .538 8.5 0.8 1.3 0.5 7.5
Byron Scott 6 6 34.7 .395 .286 .556 3.7 2.2 2.5 0.2 11.2
Larry Spriggs 4 0 6.8 .600 .000 .500 1.8 1.5 0.3 0.3 3.5
James Worthy 6 6 39.0 .564 .000 .700 4.5 3.2 0.5 0.5 23.7
Boston Celtics
Danny Ainge 6 6 33.8 .414 .400 .750 3.0 7.0 2.0 0.0 11.0
Larry Bird 6 6 40.2 .449 .333 .850 8.8 5.0 1.8 0.7 23.8
Quinn Buckner 4 0 7.8 .545 .000 .000 1.5 2.0 0.3 0.0 3.0
M. L. Carr 3 0 2.7 .375 1.000 .000 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.3
Carlos Clark 2 0 3.5 .500 .000 1.000 0.5 1.5 0.5 0.0 2.0
Dennis Johnson 6 6 41.2 .382 .000 .857 4.3 9.5 1.7 0.7 16.0
Greg Kite 5 0 8.8 .444 .000 .500 2.0 0.6 0.2 0.0 1.8
Cedric Maxwell 5 0 10.8 .500 .000 .700 1.0 0.2 0.4 0.0 2.6
Kevin McHale 6 6 40.0 .598 .000 .727 10.7 1.3 0.3 1.8 26.0
Robert Parish 6 6 37.2 .481 .000 .771 9.0 2.0 1.0 1.8 17.2
Scott Wedman 6 0 17.5 .611 .636 .556 3.3 1.7 0.8 0.0 9.3
Ray Williams 4 0 9.3 .500 .000 .000 0.3 2.8 0.3 0.0 3.5

Television coverage

The Finals were telecast by CBS in the United States, with its coverage anchored by Brent Musburger. Dick Stockton did play-by-play with Tom Heinsohn as color analyst, working their second Finals together. Pat O'Brien worked sideline duties for both teams.


The Lakers were invited to a reception at the White House with President Ronald Reagan, where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar presented the President with a jersey. The following Tuesday would be declared "Laker Day" by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley with a parade beginning at 9th and Broadway.

Team rosters

Los Angeles Lakers

1985 Los Angeles Lakers Finals roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Ht. Wt. DOB From
C 33 United States Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m) 225 lb (102 kg) 1947–04–16 UCLA
SG 21 United States Cooper, Michael 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 170 lb (77 kg) 1956–04–15 New Mexico State
PG 32 United States Johnson, Magic 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 215 lb (98 kg) 1959–08–14 Michigan State
C 1 United States Jones, Earl 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) 210 lb (95 kg) 1961–01–13 Columbia
PF 25 United States Kupchak, Mitch 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 230 lb (104 kg) 1954–05–24 North Carolina
PG 12 United States Lester, Ronnie 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 175 lb (79 kg) 1959–01–01 Iowa
C 11 United States McAdoo, Bob 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 210 lb (95 kg) 1951–09–25 North Carolina
SF 40 United States McGee, Mike 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 1959–07–29 Michigan
C 43 United States Nevitt, Chuck 7 ft 5 in (2.26 m) 217 lb (98 kg) 1959–06–13 North Carolina State
PF 31 United States Rambis, Kurt 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 213 lb (97 kg) 1958–02–25 Santa Clara
SG 4 United States Scott, Byron 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 195 lb (88 kg) 1961–03–28 Arizona State
PF 35 United States Spriggs, Larry 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 230 lb (104 kg) 1959–09–08 Howard
SF 52 United States Wilkes, Jamaal 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 1953–05–02 UCLA
SF 42 United States Worthy, James 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 225 lb (102 kg) 1961–02–27 North Carolina
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured

Boston Celtics

1985 Boston Celtics Finals roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Ht. Wt. DOB From
G/F 44 United States Ainge, Danny 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 175 lb (79 kg) 1959–03–17 BYU
F 33 United States Bird, Larry (C) 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 220 lb (100 kg) 1956–12–07 Indiana State
G 28 United States Buckner, Quinn 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 1954–08–20 Indiana
G 34 United States Carlisle, Rick 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 210 lb (95 kg) 1959–10–27 Virginia
G/F 30 United States Carr, M.L. 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 205 lb (93 kg) 1951–01–09 Guilford
G 40 United States Clark, Carlos 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 210 lb (95 kg) 1960–08–10 Mississippi
G 3 United States Johnson, Dennis 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 1954–09–18 Pepperdine
C 50 United States Kite, Greg 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) 250 lb (113 kg) 1961–08–05 BYU
F 31 United States Maxwell, Cedric 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 205 lb (93 kg) 1955–11–21 Charlotte
F/C 32 United States McHale, Kevin 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 210 lb (95 kg) 1957–12–19 Minnesota
C 00 United States Parish, Robert 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) 230 lb (104 kg) 1953–08–30 Centenary
G/F 8 United States Wedman, Scott 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 215 lb (98 kg) 1952–07–29 Colorado
G 20 United States Williams, Ray 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 188 lb (85 kg) 1954–10–14 Minnesota
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured


The Celtics made key off-season moves to strengthen its bench and enjoyed a record-setting 1985-86 NBA season. Boston traded Cedric Maxwell and Quinn Buckner and acquired center Bill Walton to spell Robert Parish and shooting guard Jerry Sichting to improve the team's outside shooting. The Celtics won 67 games in the regular season, including both meetings with the Lakers. Larry Bird won his third straight NBA MVP Award and Walton was named the league's top sixth man. Boston's 40-1 regular season home record set a new NBA standard. The Celtics continued their home dominance in the playoffs, going 10-0 in the Boston Garden on their way to a third straight NBA Finals appearance.

The Lakers made changes to its roster, allowing veteran forwards Bob McAdoo and Jamaal Wilkes to depart in free agency. Los Angeles acquired forward Maurice Lucas from Phoenix and drafted another forward, A.C. Green. The Lakers finished with 62 wins, second-best in the NBA, but fell in five games to the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals.

The Celtics defeated the Rockets in six games in 1986, the franchise's sixteenth championship. Bird was named Finals MVP for the second time in three seasons.

The Lakers and Celtics met again in 1987 with Los Angeles winning in six games. It was the last time Magic Johnson and Larry Bird would meet in the NBA Finals. The Lakers and Celtics would not square off again for the championship until 2008.

See also


  1. ^ Associated Press (June 8, 2008). "Stern says Auerbach helped come up with 2-3-2 Finals format". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2008.

External links

1985–86 Los Angeles Lakers season

The 1985–86 Los Angeles Lakers season was the 40th season of the franchise, 38th in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and 26th in Los Angeles. The Lakers entered the season as the defending NBA champion, having defeated the previous NBA champion and rival Boston Celtics in the 1985 NBA Finals in six games, having finally defeated the Celtics in the NBA Finals after having lost to them 8 consecutive times in the championship series. The Lakers looked to repeat as NBA Champions, after sweeping the San Antonio Spurs in three games in the First Round, and then defeating the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the Semifinals in the playoffs, but were unable to defend their title, as they lost to the Houston Rockets in the Conference Finals in five games after winning the first game, but proceeded to lose the following four. The Rockets would go on to lose to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals in six games.

1986 NBA Finals

The 1986 NBA Finals was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1985–86 season, and the culmination of the season's playoffs. It pitted the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics against the Western Conference champion Houston Rockets, in a rematch of the 1981 Finals (only Allen Leavell and Robert Reid remained from the Rockets' 1981 team). It was the second and last NBA Championship Series of the 1980s not to feature the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Celtics defeated the Rockets four games to two to win their 16th NBA championship. The championship would be the Celtics' last until 2008. Larry Bird was named the Finals MVP.

On another note, this series marked the first time the "NBA Finals" branding was officially used, as they dropped the "NBA World Championship Series" branding which had been in use since the beginning of the league, though it had been unofficially called the "NBA Finals" for years.

Until the 2011 series, this was the last time the NBA Finals had started before June. Since game three, all NBA Finals games have been played in June. Starting with the following year, the NBA Finals would be held exclusively in the month of June. It was also the last NBA Finals series to schedule a game on a Monday until 1999 and also the last NBA Finals game to be played on Memorial Day. Until the 2018 series, it was the last to conclude before June 10.

CBS Sports used Dick Stockton and Tom Heinsohn as the play-by-play man and color commentator respectively. Meanwhile, Brent Musburger was the host and Pat O'Brien (the Rockets' sideline) and Lesley Visser (the Celtics' sideline) were the sideline reporters.

1987 NBA playoffs

The 1987 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1986–87 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals. The Lakers earned their 10th NBA championship, and Magic Johnson was named NBA Finals MVP for a then-record third time.

This was the last time the Celtics would appear in the NBA Finals until 2008. Boston only advanced as far as the Conference Finals twice in that stretch: losing the following year to the Detroit Pistons in six games and in 2002 to the New Jersey Nets, also in 6 games.

The Pistons appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals was the franchise's first (and their first Division/Conference Final appearance since 1962). It would be the first of five straight Conference Finals appearances for Detroit. They would make their first NBA Finals appearance since 1956 the following season, the first of 3 straight trips to the Finals (winning the last 2).

The Warriors & Pacers made their first playoff appearances since 1977 and 1981 respectively. The Pacers also won their first NBA playoff game, in Game 3 of their first-round series against the Hawks.

By beating Dallas 3–1, the Supersonics became the first #7 seed to defeat a #2 seed since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1984. They reached the Western Conference Finals, where they were swept by the Lakers. As of 2016, they are the most recent team with a sub-.500 record (39-43) to advance as far as the conference finals. The 1989 & 1991 Warriors, 1998 Knicks and 2010 Spurs were the other 7th seeds to beat the 2nd seed.

One of the most memorable moments of the playoffs occurred in the final moments of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals when, with Boston down 107-106, Isiah Thomas had his inbounds pass stolen by Larry Bird, who passed to Dennis Johnson for the game-winning layup.

The only dent in the Lakers' run to the Finals came in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Warriors, when Sleepy Floyd scored a playoff record 39 points in the second half, with a record 29 coming in the fourth quarter, to seal a 129-121 win. Both records still stand.

2000 NBA Finals

The 2000 NBA Finals was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1999–2000 season, and the culmination of the season's playoffs. The Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Eastern Conference champion Indiana Pacers 4 games to 2. Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the series, his first of three consecutive honors. The series was played under a best-of-seven format, with the Lakers holding home court advantage. Until 2008, this was the most recent NBA Finals where both number one seeds from both conferences faced off in the final.

2008 NBA playoffs

The 2008 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 2007–08 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics defeating the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals. Paul Pierce was named NBA Finals MVP.

The playoffs were noted for the Atlanta Hawks' return after 9 years, taking the #1 seed Celtics to 7 games before bowing out. Also notable was the debut of the Chris Paul-led Hornets in the playoffs after Hurricane Katrina and their 7-game series against defending champions San Antonio Spurs, and the Lakers and Celtics' revitalization of their franchises, most especially after key trades during the preseason and regular season. The Celtics ended up playing 26 playoff games (2 games short of a full length postseason of 28), breaking the 25 game record of the 1994 Knicks and 2005 Pistons by 1 game for the most playoff games in a single season played by 1 NBA team. The Knicks, however, only played a Best-of-5 First Round, and so had 2 fewer games to accomplish that feat. Also, the top seeds from each Conference met in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2000. The 2008 Finals was also the first since 1998 to feature neither Shaquille O'Neal nor Tim Duncan.

The Golden State Warriors won 48 games, more than 5 of the 8 playoff teams in the Eastern Conference. However, all eight qualifiers in the Western Conference finished with at least 50 wins, thus leaving the Warriors out of the postseason.

2010 NBA playoffs

The 2010 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 2009-10 season. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics 4 games to 3 in the NBA Finals. Kobe Bryant was named NBA Finals MVP for the second straight year.

For the 2nd time in 3 seasons and the first time since 2008, all Western Conference playoff teams had at least 50 wins. The 7 games separating 1–8 was tied for the smallest margin, also from 2008.

Cleveland's 61 wins in the NBA was the smallest win total for best record since the Pacers won 61 in 2004. The Cavaliers' second round playoff exit (4–2 vs. Boston) was the earliest for the top seed since the Dallas Mavericks' first round loss to the Golden State Warriors in 2007.

Many teams avenged previous losses by defeating teams who defeated them in recent years. The Spurs defeated the Mavericks, who beat them twice in the previous 4 seasons. The Cavaliers beat the Bulls for the first time since The Shot. The Suns defeated the Spurs, who won the previous 4 meetings in the last decade. The Lakers beat the Suns, who defeated them in the first round in 2006 and 2007. The Celtics defeated the Magic, who eliminated them in 2009. And in the finals, the Lakers beat the Celtics who defeated them in the 2008 NBA Finals.

Game 5 of the Magic-Celtics series was the last game played at Amway Arena (formerly known as Orlando Arena and TD Waterhouse Centre). The Magic, who last year upset the top-seeded Cavaliers in 6 after they went 8-0 through the first two rounds, also went 8-0 through two playoff series, only to suffer the same fate as the Cavaliers last year, losing to Boston in 6. The Cavs loss led to the LeBron James decision to join the Miami Heat. This was the last playoff appearance for the Cavs until 2015 when James returned to Cleveland and, along with Kyrie Irving, faced again his common rivals the Celtics and Bulls.

The Charlotte Bobcats made their first playoff appearance in franchise history, and the first in the Charlotte NBA team's history since 2002. However, they failed to win a single playoff game in a loss to the Magic in the first round.

The Celtics-Cavaliers series marked the first time that each team lost a home playoff game by record margins: Boston lost Game 3 124-95; Cleveland lost Game 5 120-88.

The Oklahoma City Thunder made their first playoff appearance since relocating from Seattle in 2008; the team's last appearance was as the Seattle SuperSonics in 2005. Games 3, 4 and 6 were the first playoff games played at Ford Center (the arena's former tenants, the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, didn't play a single playoff game in the building). They made the most of their debut playoff appearance, pushing the eventual champion Lakers to 6 games.

The Mavericks would hold the dubious distinction of losing 3 first round series while holding the top 2 playoff seeds. They lost to the seventh-seeded San Antonio Spurs in 6. They have also lost a playoff series against the Seattle SuperSonics (1987, as the second seed) and the Golden State Warriors (2007, as the top seed).

2013–14 NBA season

The 2013–14 NBA season was the 68th season of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The regular season began on Tuesday, October 29, 2013, with the Indiana Pacers hosting a game against the Orlando Magic followed by the 2012–13 NBA champions Miami Heat hosting a game against the Chicago Bulls followed by the Los Angeles Lakers hosting a game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The 2014 NBA All-Star Game was played on February 16, 2014, at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Cleveland's Kyrie Irving won the NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award. The regular season ended on April 16, 2014, and the playoffs began on Saturday, April 19, 2014, and ended on June 15, 2014, with the San Antonio Spurs defeating the Miami Heat in five games to win the 2014 NBA Finals.

Bob McAdoo

Robert Allen McAdoo (born September 25, 1951) is an American former professional basketball player and coach. He played 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA), where he was a five-time NBA All-Star and named the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1975. He won two NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers during their Showtime era in the 1980s. In 2000, McAdoo was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

McAdoo played at the center and power forward positions. In his 21-year playing career, he spent 14 years in the NBA and his final seven in the Lega Basket Serie A in Italy. McAdoo is one of the few players who have won both NBA and the FIBA European Champions Cup (EuroLeague) titles as a player. He later won three more NBA titles in 2006, 2012 and 2013 as an assistant coach with the Miami Heat.

Celtics–Lakers rivalry

The Celtics–Lakers rivalry is a National Basketball Association (NBA) rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics and the Lakers are the two most storied franchises in the NBA, and the rivalry has been called the best in the NBA. The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers have met a record 12 times in the NBA Finals, starting with their first Finals meeting in 1959. They would both go on to dominate the league in the 1960s and 1980s, facing each other six times in the 1960s, three times in the 1980s, and two times in 2008 and 2010.

The two teams have won the two highest numbers of championships in the NBA: the Celtics have won 17, and the Lakers have won 16 (11 as the L.A. Lakers and 5 as the Minneapolis Lakers). Together, they account for 33 of the 72 championships in NBA history. As of 2018, the Celtics and Lakers have a .590 and .596 all-time winning records respectively. As of the end of the 2017–18 season, Boston is the only team with a winning overall record against the Lakers.The rivalry had been less intense since the retirements of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in the early 1990s, but in 2008 when the two teams met in the Finals for the first time since 1987, with the Celtics winning the series 4–2. They met again in the 2010 NBA Finals, which the Lakers won in 7 games.

Dennis Johnson

Dennis Wayne Johnson (September 18, 1954 – February 22, 2007), nicknamed "DJ", was an American professional basketball player for the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Seattle SuperSonics, Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics and coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. He was an alumnus of Dominguez High School, Los Angeles Harbor College and Pepperdine University.A prototypical late bloomer, Johnson overcame early struggles and had a successful NBA playing career. Drafted 29th overall in 1976 by the Seattle SuperSonics, Johnson began his professional career as a shooting guard. He eventually led the Sonics to their only NBA championship in 1979, winning the Finals MVP Award. After a short stint with the Phoenix Suns, he became the starting point guard for the Boston Celtics, with whom he won two more championships. Johnson was voted into five All-Star Teams, one All-NBA First and one Second Team, and nine consecutive All-Defensive First and Second Teams. Apart from his reputation as a defensive stopper, Johnson was known as a clutch player who made several decisive plays in NBA playoffs history.The Celtics franchise has retired Johnson's #3 jersey, which hangs from the rafters of the TD Garden, the home arena of the team. On April 5, 2010, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame officially announced that Johnson had been posthumously elected to the Hall. He was formally inducted on August 13. He is considered by several sports journalists to be one of the most underrated players of all time.

Jamaal Wilkes

Jamaal Abdul-Lateef (born Jackson Keith Wilkes on May 2, 1953), better known as Jamaal Wilkes, nicknamed "Silk", is an American retired basketball player who played the small forward position and won four NBA championships with the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers. He was a three-time NBA All-Star and the 1975 NBA Rookie of the Year. In college, Wilkes was a key player on two NCAA championship teams under coach John Wooden for the UCLA Bruins. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and his jersey No. 52 was retired by both the Lakers and the Bruins.

Wilkes converted to Islam and legally changed his name to Jamaal Abdul-Lateef in 1975, but he continued to use his birth surname only for purposes of public recognition.

James Worthy

James Ager Worthy (born February 27, 1961) is an American former professional basketball player who is currently a commentator, television host, and analyst. Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, "Big Game James" was a seven-time NBA All-Star, three-time NBA champion, and the 1988 NBA Finals MVP with the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

A standout at the University of North Carolina, the 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) small forward shared College Player of the Year honors en route to leading the Tar Heels to the 1982 NCAA Championship. Named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, he was No. 1 pick of the 1982 NBA draft of the defending NBA champion Lakers.

John Vanak

John Joseph Vanak (1933-November 26, 2016) was a referee in the American Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association.He was a United States Navy Veteran serving during the Korean War on the USS Roosevelt. He was first employed as a sergeant for the Lansford, Pennsylvania Police Department. Vanak was also the owner of the Vanak Detective Agency for over 30 years. His boyhood nickname was "Punchy". Vanak began refereeing junior high games in 1956 to stay in shape and pick up cigarette money, but it was not until 1959 that he started to officiate in earnest.

Vanak worked in the old American Basketball League (ABL), a league created by Harlem Globetrotters owner Abe Saperstein in 1961 and which lasted less than two seasons. Then he went on to the NBA at a time when the officials were permitted some showing of personality in their profession. He officiated during his first go-around in the NBA from 1962-1969. For half of those years he continued working as a $4,100-a-year policeman and he worked for at the private detective agency.

In 1969, when the upstart American Basketball Association was raiding the NBA for talent, Vanak, along with three other top NBA "lead" referees—Joe Gushue, Earl Strom and Norm Drucker—jumped to the ABA with multi-year contracts paying much higher salaries than NBA officials received. As a result, professional officiating salaries dramatically increased. The ABA battled the NBA for nine years, and eventually four ABA teams were absorbed into the NBA in 1976 to end the ABA. The ABA "merger" effectively modernized the NBA with the 3-point shot, the highlight dunking and fast break game and the advent of free agency. Amidst the drives and dunks and changing dress and hairstyles of the 1970s, was the professionalization of officiating, which had been a per diem profession before then. NBA officials were still being paid by the game into the 1960s, up to $125. Vanek officiated from 1976 until 1988 in his second go-around in the NBA.

Vanak officiated in the 1966 NBA All-Star Game, 1970 ABA All-Star Game, 1972 ABA All-Star Game, 1974 ABA All-Star Game, 1977 NBA Finals, 1979 NBA All-Star Game, 1980 NBA Finals, 1981 NBA Finals, 1983 NBA Finals, 1984 NBA All-Star Game and 1985 NBA Finals.

Vanek was chosen as the league's best official in 1978-79 and reffed a total of 3,028 games in the NBA and ABA, 328 playoff games, 31 finals and seven all-star games.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.; April 16, 1947) is an American retired professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. During his career as a center, Abdul-Jabbar was a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), a record 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA selection, and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member. A member of six NBA championship teams as a player and two more as an assistant coach, Abdul-Jabbar twice was voted NBA Finals MVP. In 1996, he was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. NBA coach Pat Riley and players Isiah Thomas and Julius Erving have called him the greatest basketball player of all time.After winning 71 consecutive basketball games on his high school team in New York City, Alcindor was recruited by Jerry Norman, the assistant coach of UCLA, where he played for coach John Wooden on three consecutive national championship teams and was a record three-time MVP of the NCAA Tournament. Drafted with the first overall pick by the one-season-old Bucks franchise in the 1969 NBA draft, Alcindor spent six seasons in Milwaukee. After leading the Bucks to its first NBA championship at age 24 in 1971, he took the Muslim name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Using his trademark "skyhook" shot, he established himself as one of the league's top scorers. In 1975, he was traded to the Lakers, with whom he played the final 14 seasons of his career and won five additional NBA championships. Abdul-Jabbar's contributions were a key component in the "Showtime" era of Lakers basketball. Over his 20-year NBA career, his teams succeeded in making the playoffs 18 times and got past the first round 14 times; his teams reached the NBA Finals on 10 occasions.

At the time of his retirement at age 42 in 1989, Abdul-Jabbar was the NBA's all-time leader in points scored (38,387), games played (1,560), minutes played (57,446), field goals made (15,837), field goal attempts (28,307), blocked shots (3,189), defensive rebounds (9,394), career wins (1,074), and personal fouls (4,657). He remains the all-time leader in points scored and career wins. He is ranked third all-time in both rebounds and blocked shots. In 2007, ESPN voted him the greatest center of all time, in 2008, they named him the "greatest player in college basketball history", and in 2016, they named him the second best player in NBA history (behind Michael Jordan). Abdul-Jabbar has also been an actor, a basketball coach, and a best-selling author. In 2012, he was selected by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be a U.S. global cultural ambassador. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Larry Bird

Larry Joe Bird (born December 7, 1956) is an American former professional basketball player, former coach, and former executive who most recently served as President of Basketball Operations for the Indiana Pacers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Nicknamed "The Hick from French Lick," Bird has been described as one of the greatest basketball players and greatest shooters of all time.

Drafted into the NBA by the Boston Celtics with the sixth overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft, Bird started at small forward and power forward for the Celtics for 13 seasons. Bird was a 12-time NBA All-Star and received the NBA Most Valuable Player Award three consecutive times (1984–1986). He played his entire professional career for Boston, winning three NBA championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards. Bird was also a member of the gold-medal-winning 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team known as "The Dream Team". He was voted to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame again in 2010 as a member of "The Dream Team".

After retiring as a player, Bird served as head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1997 to 2000. He was named NBA Coach of the Year for the 1997-1998 season and later led the Pacers to a berth in the 2000 NBA Finals. In 2003, Bird was named President of Basketball Operations for the Pacers, holding the position until retiring in 2012. He was named NBA Executive of the Year for the 2012 season. Bird returned to the Pacers as President of Basketball Operations in 2013 and remained in that role until 2017.

As of 2012, Bird is the only person in NBA history to be named Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, NBA Finals MVP, All-Star MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year.

Magic Johnson

Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. (born August 14, 1959) is an American retired professional basketball player and former president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played point guard for the Lakers for 13 seasons. After winning championships in high school and college, Johnson was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA draft by the Lakers. He won a championship and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his rookie season, and won four more championships with the Lakers during the 1980s. Johnson retired abruptly in 1991 after announcing that he had contracted HIV, but returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP Award. After protests from his fellow players, he retired again for four years, but returned in 1996, at age 36, to play 32 games for the Lakers before retiring for the third and final time.

Johnson's career achievements include three NBA MVP Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, twelve All-Star games, and ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations. He led the league in regular-season assists four times, and is the NBA's all-time leader in average assists per game, at 11.2. Johnson was a member of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team ("The Dream Team"), which won the Olympic gold medal in 1992. After leaving the NBA in 1992, Johnson formed the Magic Johnson All-Stars, a barnstorming team that travelled around the world playing exhibition games. Johnson was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.

Johnson became a two-time inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame—being enshrined in 2002 for his individual career, and again in 2010 as a member of the "Dream Team". He was rated the greatest NBA point guard of all time by ESPN in 2007. His friendship and rivalry with Boston Celtics star Larry Bird, whom he faced in the 1979 NCAA finals and three NBA championship series, are well documented.

Since his retirement, Johnson has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex, as well as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, broadcaster and motivational speaker. His public announcement of his HIV-positive status in 1991 helped dispel the stereotype, still widely held at the time, that HIV was a "gay disease" that heterosexuals need not worry about; his bravery in making this announcement was widely commended. Named by Ebony magazine as one of America's most influential black businessmen in 2009, Johnson has numerous business interests, and was a part-owner of the Lakers for several years. Johnson also is part of a group of investors that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 and the Los Angeles Sparks in 2014.

NBA Finals

The NBA Finals is the championship series of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Eastern and Western conference champions play a best-of-seven game series to determine the league champion. The winners of the Finals are awarded the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, which replaced the Walter A. Brown Trophy in 1983.

The series was initially known as the BAA Finals prior to the 1949–50 season when the Basketball Association of America (BAA) merged with the National Basketball League (NBL) to form the NBA. The competition oversaw further name changes to NBA World Championship Series from 1950 to 1985, as well as a brief stint as the Showdown, before settling on NBA Finals in 1986.The NBA Finals was initially structured to harbor a 2-2-1-1-1 format. In 1985, it was changed to a 2–3–2 format to ease the amount of cross country travel until 2013, where the first two and last two games of the series were played at the arena of the team who earned home-court advantage by having the better record during the regular season. In 2014, the 2–2–1–1–1 format was restored. The first two are played at home for the higher-seeded team, and the following two at the home of the lower-seeded team. The following three are played at each team's home arena alternately.A total of 18 franchises have won the NBA Finals, with the Golden State Warriors the current champion. The Boston Celtics hold the record for the most victories, having won the competition 17 times, as well as winning the competition the most times in a row, winning it eight times from 1959 to 1966. The Los Angeles Lakers have contested the NBA Finals the most times, with 31 appearances. The Eastern Conference has provided the most champions, with 38 wins from ten franchises; the Western Conference has 32, from nine franchises.

Ronnie Lester

Ronnie Lester (born January 1, 1959) is an American retired basketball player and basketball executive. Lester was an NCAA All-American at the University of Iowa, leading Iowa to the 1980 NCAA Final Four. Lester was a member of the 1979 USA Basketball team that won the Gold Medal in the 1979 Pan-American Games. Lester was the No. 10 overall selection in the first round of the 1980 NBA Draft. After an injury-filled career, which included winning an NBA title with the 1985 Los Angeles Lakers, Lester worked as a scout for the Lakers, and eventually became the team's assistant general manager. After leaving the Lakers after 24 years, with seven NBA titles in his tenure with the team, Lester was a scout for the Phoenix Suns from 2011 to 2015.

Scott Wedman

Scott Dean Wedman (born July 29, 1952) is an American former professional basketball player who played several seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was drafted by Kansas City-Omaha Kings in the first round in the 1974 NBA draft.

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