Magic was always a winner
May 16, 1980 -- With Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar watching Game 6 of the NBA Finals from his living room, 3,000 miles from tonight's game in Philadelphia, his sprained left ankle propped up on a coffee table, it would take magic for Los Angeles to win the championship. But the Lakers got plenty of Magic, and the result was a 123-107 triumph and a title.
Starting at center for Abdul-Jabbar was the 20-year-old Johnson, normally the point guard. All he did was score 42 points (14-of-23 from the field, 14-of-14 from the foul line), grab 15 rebounds and dish off seven assists. "I don't even know if Kareem could have done things Magic did tonight," said the 76ers' Julius Erving. "The kid's a player."
A player of all positions -- low-post center, high-post center, power forward, small forward, point guard, shooting guard. "Magic is no rookie," said teammate Jamaal Wilkes, who scored 37. "He's a winner, a champion, something very, very special."
It was Magic's third championship in four seasons. As a high school senior, he led his team to the Michigan state title and last year, as a sophomore at Michigan State, he took the Spartans to the NCAA crown.
After tonight's win, the first rookie to be named Finals MVP didn't forget the man he replaced at center. "I know your ankle hurts, Kareem," Magic said, "but why don't you get up and dance, anyway?"
Odds 'n' ends