Video, We Reminisce / May 27, 2010 / 3:15 pm

We Reminisce: Magic Johnson plays center, drops 42-15-7 in NBA Finals

You know the backstory: Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals, Lakers superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is out with an ankle injury, rookie point guard Magic Johnson starts at center in Kareem’s place, Magic proceeds to put up 42 points, 15 boards, 7 dimes and 3 steals, Lakers win the ‘chip. Can you see anybody in today’s NBA duplicating this feat, especially as a rookie?

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  • Rafa23

    no way, there is NO ONE able to do this, especially as a rookie against a pretty good team.
    I think its fair to say this is the best performance in NBA Finals history…

  • two times

    With so many rookies being one-and-done college products they enter the ranks of the pros less ready than ballers were back in Magic’s day. But aside from that, no, this is a one-of-a-kind performance. LBJ is the only active guy currently that could play out-of-position like this and even think of putting up these kinds of numbers in a big-time game.

  • http://www.myspace.com/carlifrancis quest???

    well isn’t magic johnson 6-8? it isn’t far fetched that someone his size could play out of position and play center. However this was very impressive and extremely difficult to do.

  • LakeShow84

    Nope once in a lifetime performance..

  • coachmurdog

    @ two times… remember, Magic was a two-and-done player… I don’t think it would be impossible for a rookie to come in and deliver in the NBA Finals, but it’s definitely going to be rare… Magic was a special talent. If a special rookie player (maybe LeBron in ’03?) was inserted onto a team that was in the Finals anyway and had a great supporting cast, he probably could have dropped similar numbers. Magic was way ahead of the game when he came into the league.

  • Rafa23

    Also have to look at the fact that Magic was just 20 years old and entered the nba after only his sophomore year in college.

  • netstar

    lebron, but only in his prime. there is nobody that could ever repeat this, unless it is the second coming

  • JBaller

    @ nestar

    When exactly was or will be LeBron’s Prime?

    He’s been to the finals and hasn’t shown anything like what Magic did here. This is what real legends are made of, not privileged children trying to balance business with basketball.

  • RJ

    Ever think that maybe this is Lebron’s prime and this is as good as he’s gonna get? A player who can amaze us at times with his skill but will never have that killer instinct to win a championship.

  • two times

    Thanks for the hx lesson…I had forgotten.

  • http://www.haywoodplanning.com D.H.

    And this was against Dawkins and Dr. J two half decent players.

  • Diego

    Magic truly was unique. Again, he was a 6’9″ true point guard. And he switched to center for this game, actually borrowing Kareem’s skyhook for quite a few of his points in the game.

    LeBron would be only possible–except (i) he is way too selfish to play point these days, and (ii) I can’t see him mixing it up in the pivot to truly play center in a game.

    LeBron and Dwight Howard = Extraodinary God-given talent, but no development over the course of their pro careers.

  • ahan

    I wasn’t born to watch this game, started to watch basketball when I was 5, which was the Jordan ERA part 2 95′-96′ season, and had only read about this game from writers and my Dad telling me. Honestly I was disappointed, writers all my life made me feel like Magic played more in the post and dominated. I used to have a poster of Magic’s “baby sky hook” on my wall. Maybe this video doesn’t do justice, and I didn’t even know youtube had videos this old. Anyone want to clear this up for me? Did Magic really play as a true Center this game? Anyway Magic is great. Lakers are great. Bring on the Celtics.

  • air99

    Magic really benefited with teaming up with the best (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in his rookie season, his in a right place at the right time. Jordan and LeBron can do it but either of this two doesn’t have any superstar teammate when they enter the league, they don’t even have GOOD teammates to make it to playoffs of to compete to be a contender, know what i’m saying. Magic was lucky man, very lucky dude!

  • JAY

    “Magic was lucky man, very lucky dude!”

    It was kinda tough to read through your post but from what I understood, I’d have to disagree. It was his teammates who were the lucky ones.

    This will never happen again. 6’9″ frame with a true point guard game. Imagine-Steve-Nash-was-6’9″ is the best way I could describe him – but even then it’s not accurate. Dude was incredible.

    Magic started as the center but he played all over the court. He did everything. I’m not saying that it will never be done again but it will take a very, very special player to repeat this feat. Magic was one-of-a-kind. He had a more complete game than anyone that i’ve ever watched play. What other point guard could lead a fastbreak, can throw dimes through traffic and had an unstoppable baby-hook?