Thank you to my Showtime teammates Kareem, Byron Scott, Coop, James Worthy, A.C. Green, Bob McAdoo, Mychal Thompson, Jamaal Wilkes, Kurt Rambis, Mitch Kupchak, Mike McGee, Wes Matthews, Jim Chones, Norm Nixon & many others for embracing greatness & the expectations placed on us. We came back every season expecting not just to win, but to win NBA Championships. We put in the work in the off season, during the season in practice, and in games. The end result was going to the Finals 9 times in 12 years and winning 5 NBA Championships. The Showtime players loved that our Coach Pat Riley had expectations of all of us as individuals and as a team. He pushed us to be great. After the 1987 Finals Coach Riley didn’t even give us time to celebrate what we accomplished because he went in front of all the Lakers fans and guaranteed we would win it again the following year. We as the players embraced what Coach Riley predicted and I, as well as the entire team, came into training camp in the best shape ever. We loved that he put that pressure on us because no team had gone back-to-back in a long time. We were so happy he made that bold statement and we went out and backed it up by winning another Championship. We put high expectations on ourselves, Coach Riley put high expectations on us as a team, and we loved every minute of it!
Magic was without a doubt, the most important player for the Los Angeles Lakers during their Showtime days. Johnson entered the NBA in 1979, and in his first season, led the Lakers to championship success in his rookie year. Johnson helped the Lakers win the 1980 NBA championship, and Johnson was named Finals MVP.
From then, Johnson would help lead the Lakers to 8 more NBA Finals, taking his total to 9 with the Lakers, doing this all in 12 years between 1979 to 1991. During that time, Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers won 5 NBA championships. Johnson was critical to that success, becoming a perennial All-Star and All-NBA player, winning 3 MVPs, and 3 Finals MVPs throughout the 1980s.
Johnson and the Lakers dominated the 80s. In fact, during the 80s, Magic and his fierce rival Larry Bird played in every NBA Finals of the decade. Johnson was incredible during the 80s, helping the Lakers reach the Finals almost every year. The last NBA Finals Johnson played was in 1991, which served as a passing of the torch moment.
Johnson and the Lakers lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1991 NBA Finals, something Jordan said lent him and his Bulls credibility as NBA champions. Johnson would walk away from the NBA the following year.
Johnson’s tenure with the Lakers may not be considered long, especially compared to the superstars we have seen since. But it was wildly successful. Johnson averaged 19.5 points, 11.2 assists, 7.2 rebounds, 1.9 steals, and 0.4 blocks per game throughout his legendary career. Add to this the accomplishments he and the Lakers had, there is no denying that Magic and the Showtime Lakers were the team of the 1980s.