1987–88 NBA season

The 1987–88 NBA season was the 42nd season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Los Angeles Lakers winning their second straight Championship, beating the Detroit Pistons in seven hard-fought games in the NBA Finals, becoming the NBA's first repeat champions since the Boston Celtics did it in the 1968–69 NBA season.

1987–88 NBA season
LeagueNational Basketball Association
SportBasketball
DurationNov 6, 1987 – Apr 24, 1988
Apr 28 – Jun 4, 1988 (Playoffs)
Jun 7–21, 1988 (Finals)
Number of teams23
TV partner(s)CBS, TBS
Draft
Top draft pickDavid Robinson (did not play regular season games until the 1989–90 season)
Picked bySan Antonio Spurs
Regular season
Top seedLos Angeles Lakers
Season MVPMichael Jordan (Chicago)
Top scorerMichael Jordan (Chicago)
Playoffs
Eastern championsDetroit Pistons
  Eastern runners-upBoston Celtics
Western championsLos Angeles Lakers
  Western runners-upDallas Mavericks
Finals
ChampionsLos Angeles Lakers
  Runners-upDetroit Pistons
Finals MVPJames Worthy (L.A. Lakers)
1988 NBA Finals - Game 1 - Detroit Pistons at Los Angeles Lakers 1988-06-07 (ticket)
A ticket for Game 1 of the 1988 NBA Finals at The Forum.

Notable occurrences

Coaching changes
Offseason
Team 1986–87 coach 1987–88 coach
Dallas Mavericks Dick Motta John MacLeod
Phoenix Suns Dick Van Arsdale John Wetzel
Milwaukee Bucks Don Nelson Del Harris
New York Knicks Bob Hill Rick Pitino
Sacramento Kings Jerry Reynolds Bill Russell
Los Angeles Clippers Don Chaney Gene Shue
In-season
Team Outgoing coach Incoming coach
Golden State Warriors George Karl Ed Gregory
Philadelphia 76ers Matt Guokas Jim Lynam
New Jersey Nets Dave Wohl Bob MacKinnon
Bob MacKinnon Willis Reed
Sacramento Kings Bill Russell Jerry Reynolds
Washington Bullets Kevin Loughery Wes Unseld

Final standings

By division

Atlantic Division W L PCT GB Home Road Div
y-Boston Celtics 57 25 .695 36–5 21–20 19–5
x-Washington Bullets 38 44 .463 19 25–16 13–28 13–11
x-New York Knicks 38 44 .463 19 29–12 9–32 10–14
Philadelphia 76ers 36 46 .439 21 27–14 9–32 12–12
New Jersey Nets 19 63 .232 38 16–25 3–38 6–18
Central Division W L PCT GB Home Road Div
y-Detroit Pistons 54 28 .659 34–7 20–21 20–10
x-Chicago Bulls 50 32 .610 4 30–11 20–21 16–13
x-Atlanta Hawks 50 32 .610 4 30-11 20-21 16–13
x-Milwaukee Bucks 42 40 .512 12 30–11 12–29 13–17
x-Cleveland Cavaliers 42 40 .512 12 31–10 11–30 11–19
Indiana Pacers 38 44 .463 16 25–16 13–28 13–17
Midwest Division W L PCT GB Home Road Div
y-Denver Nuggets 54 28 .659 35–6 19–22 18–12
x-Dallas Mavericks 53 29 .646 1 33–8 20–21 20–10
x-Utah Jazz 47 35 .573 7 33–8 14–27 18–12
x-Houston Rockets 46 36 .561 8 31–10 15–26 13–17
x-San Antonio Spurs 31 51 .378 23 23–18 8–33 12–18
Sacramento Kings 24 58 .293 30 19–22 5–36 9–21
Pacific Division W L PCT GB Home Road Div
y-Los Angeles Lakers 62 20 .756 36–5 26–15 23–7
x-Portland Trail Blazers 53 29 .646 9 33–8 20–21 23–7
x-Seattle SuperSonics 44 38 .537 18 32–9 12–29 19–11
Phoenix Suns 28 54 .341 34 22–19 6–35 11–19
Golden State Warriors 20 62 .244 42 16–25 4–37 7–23
Los Angeles Clippers 17 65 .207 45 14–27 3–38 7–23

By conference

# Eastern Conference
Team W L PCT GB
1 c-Boston Celtics 57 25 .695
2 y-Detroit Pistons 54 28 .659 3
3 x-Chicago Bulls 50 32 .610 7
4 x-Atlanta Hawks 50 32 .610 7
5 x-Milwaukee Bucks 42 40 .512 15
6 x-Cleveland Cavaliers 42 40 .512 15
7 x-Washington Bullets 38 44 .463 19
8 x-New York Knicks 38 44 .463 19
9 Indiana Pacers 38 44 .463 19
10 Philadelphia 76ers 36 46 .439 21
11 New Jersey Nets 19 63 .232 38
# Western Conference
Team W L PCT GB
1 z-Los Angeles Lakers 62 20 .756
2 y-Denver Nuggets 54 28 .659 8
3 x-Dallas Mavericks 53 29 .646 9
4 x-Portland Trail Blazers 53 29 .646 9
5 x-Utah Jazz 47 35 .573 15
6 x-Houston Rockets 46 36 .561 16
7 x-Seattle SuperSonics 44 38 .537 18
8 x-San Antonio Spurs 31 51 .378 31
9 Phoenix Suns 28 54 .341 34
10 Sacramento Kings 24 58 .293 38
11 Golden State Warriors 20 62 .244 42
12 Los Angeles Clippers 17 65 .207 45

Notes

  • z – Clinched home court advantage for the entire playoffs
  • c – Clinched home court advantage for the conference playoffs
  • y – Clinched division title
  • x – Clinched playoff spot

Playoffs

1988 NBA Western Conference Finals - Game 1 - Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers 1988-05-23 (ticket)
A ticket for Game 1 of the 1988 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks.

Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Home court advantage does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead the team with the better regular season record; teams enjoying the home advantage are shown in italics.

First Round Conference Semifinals Conference Finals NBA Finals
            
1 L.A. Lakers 3
8 San Antonio 0
1 L.A. Lakers 4
5 Utah 3
4 Portland 1
5 Utah 3
1 L.A. Lakers 4
Western Conference
3 Dallas 3
3 Dallas 3
6 Houston 1
3 Dallas 4
2 Denver 2
2 Denver 3
7 Seattle 2
W1 L.A. Lakers 4
E2 Detroit 3
1 Boston 3
8 New York 1
1 Boston 4
4 Atlanta 3
4 Atlanta 3
5 Milwaukee 2
1 Boston 2
Eastern Conference
2 Detroit 4
3 Chicago 3
6 Cleveland 2
3 Chicago 1
2 Detroit 4
2 Detroit 3
7 Washington 2

Statistics leaders

Category Player Team Stat
Points per game Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls 35.0
Rebounds per game Michael Cage Los Angeles Clippers 13.0
Assists per game John Stockton Utah Jazz 13.8
Steals per game Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls 3.16
Blocks per game Mark Eaton Utah Jazz 3.71
FG% Kevin McHale Boston Celtics .604
FT% Jack Sikma Milwaukee Bucks .922
3FG% Craig Hodges Milwaukee Bucks .492

NBA awards

Yearly awards

Note: All information on this page was obtained on the History section on NBA.com

Player of the week

The following players were named NBA Player of the Week.

Week Player
Nov. 6 – Nov. 15 Larry Bird (Boston Celtics)
Nov. 16 – Nov. 22 Xavier McDaniel (Seattle SuperSonics)
Nov. 23 – Nov. 29 Clyde Drexler (Portland Trail Blazers)
Nov. 30 – Dec. 6 Clyde Drexler (Portland Trail Blazers)
Dec. 7 – Dec. 13 Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers)
Dec. 14 – Dec. 20 Larry Nance (Phoenix Suns)
Dec. 21 – Dec. 27 Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks)
Dec. 28 – Jan. 3 Karl Malone (Utah Jazz)
Jan. 4 – Jan. 10 Byron Scott (Los Angeles Lakers)
Jan. 11 – Jan. 17 Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks)
Jan. 18 – Jan. 24 Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls)
Jan. 25 – Jan. 31 Bernard King (Washington Bullets)
Feb. 1 – Feb. 14 Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks)
Feb. 15 – Feb. 21 John Stockton (Utah Jazz)
Feb. 22 – Feb. 28 Roy Tarpley (Dallas Mavericks)
Feb. 29 – Mar. 6 Bobby Hansen (Utah Jazz)
Feb. 7 – Mar. 13 Clyde Drexler (Portland Trail Blazers)
Mar. 14 – Mar. 20 Charles Barkley (Philadelphia 76ers)
Mar. 21 – Mar. 27 Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls)
Mar. 28 – Apr. 3 Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls)
Apr. 4 – Apr. 10 Harold Pressley (Sacramento Kings)
Apr. 11 – Apr. 17 Lafayette Lever (Denver Nuggets)
Apr. 18 – Apr. 24 Karl Malone (Utah Jazz)

Player of the month

The following players were named NBA Player of the Month.

Month Player
November Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls)
December Larry Nance (Phoenix Suns)
January Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls)
February John Stockton (Utah Jazz)
March Karl Malone (Utah Jazz)
April Lafayette Lever (Denver Nuggets)

Rookie of the month

The following players were named NBA Rookie of the Month.

Month Rookie
November Mark Jackson (New York Knicks)
December Mark Jackson (New York Knicks)
January Armon Gilliam (Phoenix Suns)
February Mark Jackson (New York Knicks)
March Greg Anderson (San Antonio Spurs)
April Kevin Johnson (Phoenix Suns)

Coach of the month

The following coaches were named NBA Coach of the Month.

Month Coach
November Doug Collins (Chicago Bulls)
December Chuck Daly (Detroit Pistons)
January Wes Unseld (Washington Bullets)
February Pat Riley (Los Angeles Lakers)
March Doug Moe (Denver Nuggets)
April Lenny Wilkens (Cleveland Cavaliers)
1987 NBA draft

The 1987 NBA draft was held on June 22, 1987, in New York City.

This draft is notable for the selection of two future members of the NBA 50 Greatest Players list, David Robinson and Scottie Pippen, as well as fellow Hall of Famer Reggie Miller. Other notable selections include Kevin Johnson, Kenny Smith, Horace Grant, Reggie Lewis, Muggsy Bogues, Mark Jackson, and Šarūnas Marčiulionis. Also in this draft, former Florida Gators men's basketball head coach Billy Donovan (drafted 68th by the Utah Jazz), who led that program to NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championships in 2006 and in 2007.

Note that David Robinson did not join the NBA until the 1989–90 season due to his service commitment with the United States Navy. This was the last NBA draft to go over three rounds, as it was reduced to exactly three next year and later to two since 1989.

1987–88 Atlanta Hawks season

The 1987–88 NBA season was the Hawks' 39th season in the NBA and 20th season in Atlanta, in the U.S. state of Georgia. The Hawks finished third in the Central Division with a 50–32 record. Dominique Wilkins made the All-NBA Second Team, and was selected along with Doc Rivers for the 1988 NBA All-Star Game. In the first round of the playoffs, the Hawks defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in five games. In the semifinals, they took a 3–2 series lead over Larry Bird and the top-seeded Boston Celtics, but lost the final two games thus losing the series. This was the closest Wilkins had ever gotten to advancing to the Conference Finals.

1987–88 Boston Celtics season

The 1987–88 Boston Celtics season was the 42nd season of the Boston Celtics in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Coming from an NBA Finals defeat to their rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers in six games, the Celtics finished first place in the Eastern Conference with 57 wins and 25 losses, with Larry Bird being selected to the All-NBA First Team. Bird, Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge were all selected for the 1988 NBA All-Star Game. In the first round of the playoffs, they defeated the New York Knicks in four games. In the semifinals, the Celtics trailed 3–2 to Dominique Wilkins and the Atlanta Hawks, but won the final two games. They advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fifth consecutive time, becoming the first team to do so since the 1968–69 Boston Celtics (which reached the previous thirteen). However, they would lose to Isiah Thomas and the 2nd-seeded Detroit Pistons in six games.

1987–88 Dallas Mavericks season

The 1987–88 Dallas Mavericks season was the eighth season of the franchise in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The Mavericks finished second in the Midwest Division with a 53–29 record. They defeated the Houston Rockets four games in the first round of the 1988 NBA Playoffs, then defeated the 2nd-seeded Denver Nuggets six games in the semifinals. The Mavs made their first appearance in the Western Conference Finals, where they pushed the eventual-champion Los Angeles Lakers to seven games. The Mavs were coached by John MacLeod and played their home games at Reunion Arena.Mark Aguirre and James Donaldson were both selected to play in the 1988 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago. This was Donaldson's only All-Star Game appearance in his career.

1987–88 Denver Nuggets season

The 1987–88 NBA season was the Nuggets' 12th season in the NBA and 21st season as a franchise. During the offseason, the Nuggets acquired Michael Adams from the Washington Bullets. The Nuggets finished first place in the Midwest Division with a 54–28 record. Head coach Doug Moe was named Coach of The Year. Alex English and Fat Lever were both selected for the 1988 NBA All-Star Game. In the first round of the playoffs, they defeated the Seattle SuperSonics in five games, but lost to the 3rd-seeded Dallas Mavericks six games in the semifinals.

1987–88 Golden State Warriors season

The 1987–88 NBA season was the Warriors' 42nd season in the NBA and 25th in the San Francisco Bay Area. Head coach George Karl resigned with 18 games left, and Ed Gregory was interim head coach for the rest of the season. The Warriors finished fifth in the Pacific Division with a disappointing 20-62 record.

1987–88 Indiana Pacers season

The 1987-88 NBA season was Indiana's 12th season in the NBA and 21st season as a franchise. This season saw the team draft Reggie Miller out of UCLA with the eleventh pick in the 1987 NBA draft. The Pacers finished sixth in the Central Division, and ninth in the Western Conference with a 38–44 record, losing a tie-breaker for the final playoff spot to the New York Knicks, and the Washington Bullets.

1987–88 Milwaukee Bucks season

The 1987-88 NBA season was the Bucks' 20th season in the NBA. The Bucks finished fourth in the Central Division with a 42–40 record. In the first round of the playoffs, they lost in five games to the Atlanta Hawks. This was also their final season playing at MECCA Arena.

1987–88 Philadelphia 76ers season

The 1987-88 NBA season was the 76ers 39th season in the NBA and 25th season in Philadelphia. This was the first season of the post-Julius Erving era, as the team was now led by Charles Barkley. As a result, the Sixers failed to reach the playoff for the first time since 1974-1975, going 36-46. Matt Goukas was fired in the middle of the season after going 20-23 and was replaced by Jim Lynam.

This was the final season for Andrew Toney, as the former All-Star guard was forced to retire due to foot injuries.

1987–88 Portland Trail Blazers season

The 1987–88 season was the 18th season of the Portland Trail Blazers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Blazers finished 53–29, fourth in the Western Conference, qualifying for the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. It was a four-game improvement over the previous season. In the 1988 NBA Playoffs, the Blazers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight year, this time falling to the Utah Jazz three games to one in the best-of-five series.

Kevin Duckworth averaged 15.8 points per game and was named Most Improved Player of The Year, while Clyde Drexler was selected for the 1988 NBA All-Star Game. Steve Johnson was also selected, but did not play due to injury.

1987–88 Sacramento Kings season

The 1987-88 NBA season was the Kings' 39th season in the NBA and third in Sacramento. Playing under two coaches Bill Russell, and Jerry Reynolds during the season, the Kings finished sixth in the Midwest Division with a 24–58 record. Top draft pick Kenny Smith made the All-Rookie Team. Following the season, Otis Thorpe was traded to the Houston Rockets, and the Kings moved out of ARCO Arena I for ARCO Arena II.

1987–88 San Antonio Spurs season

The 1987-88 NBA season was the Spurs' 12th season in the NBA and 21st season as a franchise. The season saw the team draft future All-Star and 2-time NBA Champion David Robinson with the first pick in the 1987 NBA Draft, but due to his Naval service, he did not join the team until 1989.

Despite inconsistent basketball all year, the Spurs made the playoffs with a low 31–51 record. However, a sweep to the eventual champion Lakers ended the season for the Spurs. Alvin Robertson was selected for the 1988 NBA All-Star Game.

1987–88 Utah Jazz season

The 1987–88 Utah Jazz season was the team's 14th in the NBA. The Jazz finished third in the Midwest Division with a record of 47–35, and qualified for the playoffs for the fifth straight season. In the first round of the playoffs, they defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in four games, but then lost in seven games to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the semifinals. Karl Malone was selected for the 1988 NBA All-Star Game.

1987–88 Washington Bullets season

The 1987–88 NBA season was the Bullets' 27th season in the NBA and their 15th season in the city of Washington, D.C.. After Kevin Loughery was replaced by Wes Unseld during the season, the Bullets finished second in the Atlantic Division with a 38–44 record. In the first round of the playoffs, they lost to the Detroit Pistons in five games. This would be their final playoff appearance until 1997. Following the season, Moses Malone, who was selected for the 1988 NBA All-Star Game, signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Atlanta Hawks.

This season saw the team draft 5'3 Muggsy Bogues with the 12th overall pick in the 1987 NBA draft. He is the shortest player in NBA history. After his rookie season, Bogues left for the 1988 Expansion Draft.

1988 NBA All-Star Game

The 38th National Basketball Association All-Star Game was played on February 7, 1988, at Chicago Stadium in Chicago. The East won the game 138-133 and Michael Jordan (who scored a game-high 40 points) was named the game's MVP.

John Wetzel (basketball)

John Francis Wetzel (born October 22, 1944) is an American former professional basketball player and coach. A 6'5" guard, he played collegiately at Virginia Tech and was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 8th round of the 1966 NBA draft. Over a seven-year career, Wetzel played for three teams: the Lakers, the Phoenix Suns, and the Atlanta Hawks. He later coached the Suns during the 1987-88 NBA season. He served as an assistant for several other teams, retiring from basketball in 2004. Wetzel currently splits time in Tucson, Arizona and Maui, Hawaii.

Kannard Johnson

Kannard Johnson (born June 24, 1965 in Cincinnati, Ohio) is an American retired college and professional basketball player. He was selected by the National Basketball Association's Cleveland Cavaliers with the 41st overall pick (2nd round) of the 1987 NBA Draft.

Johnson, who played college basketball at Western Kentucky University, appeared in four games with the Cavaliers in the 1987–88 NBA season.

At Western Kentucky, Johnson was a key player in the resurgence of the basketball program. He was a four-year starter and led the team to its first Sun Belt Conference basketball championship, a top ten national ranking, a 2nd-place finish in the pre-season NIT, and back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances.

List of 1987–88 NBA season transactions

This is a list of all transactions occurring in the 1987-88 NBA season.

Nikita Wilson

Nikita Franciscus Wilson (born February 25, 1964) is a retired American professional basketball player. He was selected by the National Basketball Association's Portland Trail Blazers with the 30th overall pick in the second round of the 1987 NBA draft.

Wilson, whose nickname is simply "Bun," played at Leesville High School in Louisiana, was a member of the 1983 Parade All-American Fourth Team for High School in the U.S. and college basketball 1983-1987 at Louisiana State University. He saw action in fifteen games for the Trail Blazers during the 1987-88 NBA season, averaging 1.3 points. He has extensive overseas experience, primarily in France.

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1987–88 NBA season by team
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