Almanac: 1981


Top five athletes
1. Sugar Ray Leonard: Knocked out unbeaten Thomas Hearns in 14th round.
2. Marcus Allen, Southern Cal: 2,342 rushing yards, 23 TDs, Heisman Trophy.
3. Julius Erving, Philadelphia 76ers: 24.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists, NBA MVP.
4. John McEnroe: Won 10 of 20 tourneys, including two majors; 74-10 match record, ranked #1.
5. Isiah Thomas, Indiana: All-American, 16.0 points, Final Four MOP, 23 points in title game.

Top five teams
1. Boston Celtics (62-20). Beat the Rockets for first title of Larry Bird era.
2. Indiana basketball (26-9). Isiah Thomas upends Carolina in title game.
3. Oakland Raiders (11-5). One-time washout Jim Plunkett QBs Raiders to Super Bowl win.
4. New York Islanders (110 points). Second of four straight Stanley Cup titles.
5. Clemson football (12-0). Surprising national champs beat Nebraska in Orange Bowl.

Sports moves

  • New Jersey Nets into Continental Air Arena

    Pop culture trivia
    Oscar winner: Chariots of Fire

    Most popular TV show: Dallas

    Top of the Pops: Bette Davis Eyes, Kim Carnes

    Fiction bestseller: Noble House, James Clavell

    Nonfiction bestseller: The Beverly Hills Diet, Judy Mazel

    Pop culture potpourri: MTV debuts, August 1981 (first video shown: "Video Killed the Radio Star"); Pac-Man, IBM PC debut; Prince Charles and Lady Di get hitched; McDonald's launches "You Deserve A Break Today" campaign; Walter Cronkite signs off of CBS News; Bob Marley dies of cancer; Sandra Day O'Connor becomes first female Supreme Court justice.